North Regional TAFE music lecturer receives ARIA nomination

Bel Skinner nominated for the ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award.

One of North Regional TAFE’s talented lecturers has been named an ARIA Award finalist, in what is a first for the vocational education and training sector. NR TAFE’s very own Broome-based music lecturer, Bel Skinner, is in the running to take out the 2019 Telstra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award!

In September NR TAFE celebrated Bel’s outstanding and innovative achievements with a special guest appearance from talented Sydney artist and ARIA Award winner, Montaigne, who flew across to Broome to announce the lecturer’s nomination. Bel's career has seen her journey from remote music lecturer to Western Australian Trainer of the Year and now ARIA Award finalist. Bel’s passion for music emerged at the age of five when she started formal music lessons. In her adult years, she went on to complete a Bachelor of Music (Honours) at the University of New South Wales. Her studies are ultimately what drove her to pack up and bring her love for the music industry to the remote town of Broome.

Bel’s inspiring story really kicked off back in 2002 when she commenced work at NR TAFE and began delivering the Certificate II in Music Industry with only three guitars, limited classroom space and five indigenous youth at risk students. Bel has since built the music program from the ground up and now delivers to her students in a state of the art studio, with regional and remote delivery of Certificate II, III, IV and Diploma in Music Industry across the North West. While working as a music lecturer at NR TAFE, Bel — a musician in her own right — also dedicates her time to artist management and loves sharing opportunities and industry knowhow with her students, to help them achieve their goals as individuals.

“By bringing music education to isolated students, my programs are able to consistently engage disadvantaged youth from diverse cultural and socio-economical backgrounds, building literacy and numeracy, and self-esteem, and promoting increased school attendance in the remote communities that I travel to. I believe that music and music education play a key role in engagement and social change in Indigenous communities across the Kimberley and Pilbara regions and I take great pride in being able to offer this to young people through my training,” Bel said.

In 2014, Bel went on to write and launch completely online delivery of the Certificate III in Music Industry, the first of its kind in Australia.  This innovative course has provided students across Australia, particularly those in regional and remote areas, with access to music education and has opened them up to pathways into the music industry and further education. Bel was also the creator of a juvenile justice intervention program, which involved working with groups of teenagers to write and produce their own original songs, while also building on language and literacy skills throughout the creative process.

Bel’s achievements did not come easy, and were met with a number of challenges over the years. “Of course, the tyranny of distance is a significant factor. I drive thousands of kilometres to deliver training, however I use this time creatively to reflect on my programs for continuous improvement." Bel says. "A lack of available music resources, particularly instruments and equipment in remote locations, is a continuous challenge. I address this by seeking to develop partnerships with local organisations such as job service providers and community radio stations to create a training environment. I also work with the organisations and students to access funding to build infrastructure. I embrace individual differences and customise each program to meet the individual learner needs.” 

The talented music lecturer took the opportunity to reflect on her passion for music and teaching ahead of the awards. “I truly love every aspect of what I do to bring positive change through music into people’s lives. I’m passionate and committed to working with every student to meet their individual needs and develop their music skills and knowledge to achieve great outcomes,” Bel said.

We wish Bel all the best for the ARIAs, and congratulate her on this wonderful achievement.

To watch this year’s ARIA Awards, tune in to the Nine Network broadcast, live from The Star Event Centre in Sydney on Wednesday 27 November 2019.

You can vote for Bel at ariamusicteacheraward.com.au/Vote

Or visit the website for more information: ariamusicteacheraward.com.au 

If music is your passion and you would like to study in this area, find out what courses are available across the whole State using the course search.

Main photo: Bel Skinner (second from left, top) with some of her music students at NR TAFE — photo by Ben Houston Photography

Bel Skinner with her music students