Hands-on approach earns ARIA nod

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ARIA Music Teacher of the Year nominee Bel Skinner with Montaigne.
Camera IconARIA Music Teacher of the Year nominee Bel Skinner with Montaigne. Credit: Supplied

A lifelong passion for music has culminated in an ARIA Award nomination for a local lecturer.

North Regional TAFE music lecturer Bel Skinner was recently announced as one of four nominees for the publicly voted ARIA Music Teacher of the Year award, going up against teachers from the east coast.

Ms Skinner said the nomination was the most amazing thing that had ever happened in her life.

“I feel very humbled by it because I have been doing this for a very long time and I’m passionate about what I do,” she said.

“At the end of the day I’m just Bel from Broome and to be recognised in the industry at a national level is just mind-blowing.”

When nominations were announced, Ms Skinner was visited by Sydney-based musician Montaigne, something that was surreal and led to the photograph on our Happenings front cover.

“That was the day my life changed,” she said.

“It was also great to see her work with the students and be really down-to-earth and hands-on when she visited for a day. I hope I see her at the awards ceremony in Sydney, which will just be icing on the cake.

“I’m very excited to go on the red carpet and mingle with my idols in Australian music.”

Ms Skinner’s nomination makes her the sole music teacher from WA nominated.

“I’m a very passionate advocate for WA music so I’m happy to be waving the flag for WA this year,” she said. “It would be awesome if I win but just being nominated is life-changing.”

Ms Skinner’s passion for teaching music stemmed from moving to Broome 23 years ago when she was writing her PhD on music in Broome.

“I ended up not going back to Sydney and I got involved at a community level by organising events for kids and teaching privately,” she said.

“Then North Regional TAFE wanted to start a music course and I got the job with Peter Ghouse, a icon of Kimberley music, so we started with getting some funding to work with indigenous youth at risk with just three acoustic guitars and it all just took off from there.

“We ended up in the shed at Goolarri Media with egg cartons on the walls for the first five years but we got great gear and it’s just grown from there.

“I always thought I’d be an academic so it wasn’t something I was expecting to happen but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“It’s so amazing working hands-on with the emerging artists and musicians across the Kimberley and Pilbara and helping them to build their careers which is so satisfying.”

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