Latest News

ARIA Winning Teacher’s Views on Music Education

Renee McCarthy and Josh Pyke ARIA Winners

In 2017, The Song Room partnered with ARIA to bring you the inaugural ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award, sponsored by Telstra. The Award recognises the important role music teachers play in increasing education outcomes and building the confidence and resilience of students.

Renée McCarthy, from South Australia, was our first ever winner of this award. We asked Renée for her tips on best practice music education and what her experience as an ARIA award winning teacher has been like…


2017 was an incredible year for me. In June my Year 12 Music Captains secretly nominated me for ARIA Music Teacher of the Year and a few months later I was listed as an ARIA finalist and mentored by ARIA award-winner artist Josh Pyke. I had no idea that The Song Room and ARIA had collaborated to recognise the value of ‘music education’ and after fun-filled months involving performances, television and radio interviews, I was announced as the inaugural winner of ARIA Music Teacher of the Year.  I still can’t quite believe it.

Throughout the journey I was often asked ‘why is music education so important?’. As Director of Music at Woodcroft College in South Australia I consider myself very lucky. Despite the fact that Woodcroft is situated in a low socio-economic area, our music students are making their own mark on the world. My teaching philosophy is simple –

  • Get to know your students.
  • Value their contribution.
  • Inspire them to start their own music journey.
  • Show them your own love of music.
  • Maintain high expectations (not to get the top marks but to be their best).
  • Take an interest in their development as musicians.
  • Praise them whenever they improve and
  • welcome them into your “Music Family”.

ARIA Award Winner Renee McCarthy

There are enormous benefits from Music education. Research shows that learning an instrument can increase your comprehension and improve your math skills, coordination and even your memory. Playing music makes learning easier. Music training develops the same muscles that assist in time-management, organisation and concentration, and, learning an instrument teaches perseverance, discipline and responsibility.

Most importantly and my favourite…music has amazing social benefits. Students who join an ensemble or band develop a sense of belonging and purpose when they are actively involved in positive outlets. And, last but not least, music is a creative outlet for the soul that touches the emotions. Playing music makes people happy!

I was incredibly excited to meet Josh Pyke last year. He spoke openly with my students about the fact that he didn’t get to study music in his Senior years of high school and his journey in establishing his amazing career. I am very excited to chat with Josh about the value and importance of music education and share our experiences with the audience at the Australian Music Vault. What an incredible journey this has been!




Renée will be joined in by ARIA Award winning musician, Josh Pyke, at the Australian Music Vault for the ARIA Music Teacher of the Year in Conversation event on May 24th at 6:30pm in Melbourne. Limited tickets available

Renée is also holding FREE Masterclass for pre-service teachers at 2pm on May 24th at The Channel. Both events are presented on behalf of the Arts Centre Melbourne.


Newsletter subscription

Enter your name and email below to receive instant notifications on our developments

[gravityform id="2" name="Join newsletter" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"] ×