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Newcastle teacher Daniel Wilson excited by ARIA nomination


He is one of just four music teachers from around Australia to be nominated for the 2021 Telstra ARIA Music Teacher Award.

If he wins, the Lambton High School teacher says it’ll be a win, not just for himself and his school, but for the whole of Newcastle.

His name is Daniel Wilson and he is the Creative and Performing Arts teacher and Assistant Principal at the Womboin Road education hub.

He is also the only NSW candidate in the nationwide Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) competition.

And, on 24 November he’ll learn if he is one of the best music teachers in the country.

“Yeah, that’s pretty exciting I have to be honest.

“I just turn up for work everyday and do something I love doing. This is like a massive wild ride on top of that.”

The humble educator is one of a record-number of entrants in this year’s competition.

His nomination, delivered virtually, was courtesy of former student and country music singer Morgan Evans.

“Morgan’s doing phenomenal things at the moment. He’s playing in front of tens of thousands of people in his concerts, so to see him pop up on the screen was amazing.”

Mr Wilson is also the musical director of Star Struck, a NSW Department of Education annual performing arts event for school students in Newcastle, the Hunter and Central Coast.

He had performed in the annual event himself in 1983.

“Star Struck has quite a number of kids who’ve gone on to be nominated for ARIAS, or doing really high-profile stuff in the music industry,” he said.

Star Struck has produced local musical identities such as Kirsty Lee Akres and Michelle Davidson.

“As soon as I became a teacher I jumped onboard the [Star Struck] music team because I’d had such a great time doing it and it had stayed an important part of my life,” Mr Wilson said.

His role within the musical production platform developed from vocal director to assistant director, until in 2008 he took over as music director.

The former Kotara High School student admits he’s committed much of his spare time in the past 21 years to the voluntary role.

“This music education program is done outside school hours,” he said.

“Some people think that’s madness but we’ve got an amazing team and we love what we do together. It’s like catching up with friends. 

In 2022 Star Struck will celebrate its 30th anniversary.

The show, Mr Wilson reveals, will be called Iconic.

So what is it that this teacher of 21 years hopes will be his legacy?

“I hope I’ll be remembered for making a difference,” he told Newcastle Weekly.

“It’s lovely when students tell you that you made a difference in their lives.

“It’s not what I set about doing, but when they come back the year after they’ve graduated or five, or ten years down the track, and they say ‘you made a real difference to me’, and they thank you for what you did, I think that’s amazing.”

Music itself can be life-changing, Mr Wilson says.

“A lot of kids have gotten in touch to say music was such an important part of their life, even if they’re not doing it anymore, they say it gave them strength and confidence, a positive experience and it influences what they do today.

“It means some teacher in their high school ignited a passion for them, and that’s powerful.

“One of the philosophies of The Song Room is about the mental health and wellbeing benefits of music.

“To have music education for young people helps to develop their positive outlook on life and makes them feel good.

“When you’re feeling down, if you put on a piece of music it can just brighten your day, let alone actually picking up an instrument and creating your own music.

“Music is really, really important.”

The 2021 Telstra ARIA Music Teacher Award, Mr Wilson adds, highlights the need for continued support within the music education sector.

“Telstra and The Song Room are looking to shine the light on music education in Australia.

“They’re looking for inspiring people who are doing amazing things in the realm of music education because behind every great ARIA artist, is probably a music teacher.

“It’s great that everyone’s getting behind it. 

“Now we just need everyone in Newcastle to vote.”

Voting for the 2021 Telstra ARIA Music Teacher Award closes on 17th November, winners announced 24th November.

Go to to vote.

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