Music was already a big hit in remote learning at Wodonga Primary School, and then pop superstar Tones and I showed up.
The Aussie songwriter, Toni Watson, had just told teacher Aaron Silver he was one of four finalists in the 2021 Telstra ARIA Music Teacher Award.
"She is an ambassador for the ARIAs ... I didn't know it was going to be her, so that was a big shock," Mr Silver said.
"I told the kids there would be a special guest in class, she popped up and the kids went wild."
Tones and I congratulated the musician-turned-teacher on his innovation and his 'Dad jokes'.
"He keeps it going, he keeps it fresh and he keeps it new - and I think the kids are really lucky to have him," she said.
Mr Silver, who trained in trumpet, teaches music to all 42 classes at Wodonga primary and sent through videos of his lessons to the competition earlier this year.
"I don't know who did that initial tapping on the shoulder; I got an email to say I'd been put forward," he said.
"It's quite funny to get a message from the chief executive of the ARIAs.
"I wanted to celebrate teachers and raise awareness for music education.
"Something like three out of four students in Australia don't have music in their school, which as a music teacher and seeing what a difference that it makes to a school, is hard to know."
Mr Silver, originally from Melbourne, has been in the job at Wodonga for six years and when remote learning started, became a student again himself.
"It started off with just me experimenting ... I learned how to use GarageBand and iMovie," he said.
"Zoom added all these new functions and you can use PowerPoint presentations as a virtual background.
"People might not have instruments, or they have parents who are working full-time, so a lot of the stuff I did was using either found objects or involved just watching and keeping their interest in music.
"The nomination is a great morale boost at a tricky time.
"Every teacher has been absolutely working their butt off to try keep the kids engaged."
Principal Damian Duncan said music lessons had created joy for families in lockdown.
"Mr Silver's online lessons broke all our social media and online records through the number of hits," he said.
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"We got feedback from all our community members to say they were hanging out for their child's music lesson online that week.
"Mr Silver is a valuable asset to Wodonga and we couldn't imagine the place here without him."
Voting, at www.aria.com.au/vote closes at midnight on November 17.
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