Music teacher ARIA recognises influential educators

TEACHING: Launceston College vocal coach Travis Hennessy believes music can build self-confidence. Picture: Piia Wirsu
TEACHING: Launceston College vocal coach Travis Hennessy believes music can build self-confidence. Picture: Piia Wirsu

Australian music awards, the ARIAS, has recognised the role teachers play in inspiring musicians by announcing the inaugural ARIA music teacher of the year award

The new ARIA will shine the spotlight on music teachers who are igniting fires in the bellies of their students

Travis Hennessy has been teaching music for 10 years at Launceston College as a vocal tutor, and is known for “inspiring” work. 

“We want to be able to encourage [the students] and tell them that anything is possible in terms of music,” he said.

He believes music is vital to developing the self-confidence of young people. 

“That's for heaps of reasons, there’s lots of studies to show it helps with your basic literacy skills, in terms of your english and mathematical development, but in terms of self confidence it gives you so much,” Hennessy said. 

Research shows increased academic performance and confidence and drops in absenteeism in students who study music, however only one in four Australian students have access to a music program.

“There are very few subjects or areas that you will learn or that you will teach that are about self expression and that's really important for youth,” Hennessy said.

“Especially these days where a lot of the expression they’ll find or they’ll experience is in cyber space … actual genuine connection to something and self expression and then connecting to their peers or an audience is a very unique experience and music does that in a way that sometimes has words and sometimes it doesn’t so it’s a very primal thing.

Having that level of expression always improves people’s confidence because they feel like they're valued.

Travis Hennessy

“Having that level of expression always improves people’s confidence because they feel like they're valued, which is really important.”

Hennessy himself comes from a musical family and has been making music since he was three years old. 

His cousin and his own teacher at Launceston College when he was a student stand out as particularly influential in his musical development. 

“When you were at college you had a lot more ownership ... about the material you were able to sing and it was through there that I started composing a lot more,” he said. 

To nominate your music teacher for the ARIA visit www.ariamusicteacheraward.com.au.