Celebrating music education

Home > News and Events > 2020 > June > Celebrating music education

Michael Perryman who has been anonymously entered into the 2020 Telstra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award.19 June 2020

St John’s Regional College, Dandenong, is celebrating music teacher Michael Perryman who has been anonymously entered into the 2020 Telstra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award.

The award recognises the profoundly positive influence that music teachers and mentors can have on the development and education of children, who can experience benefits in their wellbeing, social connections, literacy and active engagement in school.

The nominees will be announced in October and the competition is strong but, for Michael, it’s about the strength of the music program that they are developing as a team at St John’s. He emphasises the other key figures, like principal Tim Hogan and deputy Janine Biggin, as well as the other staff and fantastic students. ‘Just to be acknowledged is nice’, said Michael, ‘and I think it’s good not only for St John’s, it’s good for Music Australia, it’s good for the De La Salle and Presentation Sisters schools, it’s good for Catholic Education Melbourne’.

His efforts to discover who put his name into the pool of entries continue in vain. The community is so appreciative of his contribution that it could have been anyone. On the school’s Facebook page, one parent wrote: ‘You’re an amazing music teacher, so grateful for all the encouragement and support you have given to our daughter and all students at St John’s.’

The three-phase music program they are building is based on a strong classroom curriculum using the Kodaly singing method, and supplemented by an instrumental program and opportunities for ensemble. Michael’s own experiences as a music student and session musician playing all over Melbourne inspire him.

‘I really try and make sure that the Year 12 VET music classes get a real-world industry exposure as much as possible’, said Michael. ‘The two best ways that I’ve done it so far have been last year’s musical School of Rock, so they were the all-student band and that was a massive task that they did really well, and also at St John’s Regional we have the pleasure of having a fully functioning restaurant. So I had a bit of a chat with the food and hospitality department and we struck up a deal where we have the senior students perform when service is happening. People from the community come in and dine and enjoy the food that the chef and hospitality students prepare and serve, and also you have some great live music in the background. It’s a fantastic experience for the community and for the students. It’s been a bit of work to get there, but it’s going really well. It doesn’t feel like work because it’s just so fun.’

‘Michael is an outstanding young teacher’, said Mr Hogan. ‘He has been a strong advocate for the way music and creativity help improve education standards, wellbeing and a stronger connection to school life for our students. He is aware of the benefits that it brings for learning, what it can do for the brain.’

‘He started a virtual choir during remote learning and took people from all different levels of ability. He has a gift of encouragement. He is very encouraging and creative with students and staff. Great energy. One of the parents on the school board who has children involved in the music program spoke really highly of Michael and what he has achieved in quite a short amount of time. We’re very lucky to have him as part of our community.’