SOUTH Brisbane’s favourite music teacher has been named one of Queensland’s most inspiring educators.
St Laurence’s College music and English teacher and renowned music director Anthony Young received the Queensland College of Teachers Excellence in Teaching award on World Teachers’ Day, October 30.
More than 30 colleagues, school leaders and former students wrote letters to the QCT “praising his work”.
The humbled recipient said music had been in his bones since his early days on the piano under the tutelage of the Presentation Sisters at St Francis Xavier, Ballina.
“I started in first class at school learning piano from the nuns,” he said.
“And by fifth class there was a whole set of us who were taught to play the organ for Mass, so that was in that era, that is what happened in that part of the country – the young musicians would be trained to play.”
By secondary school, the talented musician started learning chorale and eventually conducting.
“Fr (Paul) Pidcock, one of the Marist priests at our school, used to take the choir and I started conducting the choir when he gave out Communion,” Mr Young said.
But an interest in law saw him gain a Law degree and Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in English before working as a clerk until the 1991 recession.
“I suppose, too, as a result of that I was doing lots of bankruptcies, and winding up of companies, and it wasn’t a very nice thing to be doing for a living,” Mr Young said.
“Then I asked my piano teacher and said maybe I would enjoy teaching better, and he said, ‘Oh, of course you would’.”
After receiving his Diploma in Education, Mr Young worked at a state school before finding work at St Laurence’s College, where he has been for the past 18 years.
He said the boys at St Laurence’s learnt the entire spectrum of Catholic music, from rock-influenced worship all the way to Gregorian chant.
“Yes, of course we teach actual units of work at St Laurence’s which means by the time a child finishes their school here, they know music, they can sing Salve Regina but also a full-on rock Hillsong piece and perform it, and analyse it and write about it,” Mr Young said.
The influence of the nuns and Marist Brothers has also inspired the award-winning teacher to share the faith through music.
“I just think that teaching the music of the faith is the most important thing we can do in a Catholic school because I look back to my childhood and we sang church music all the time,” Mr Young said.
“I think it’s a really important job for music teachers … to give students songs in their hearts that will console them in times of troubles and also that they can celebrate with in good times.
“So I suppose that’s where I see church music is a really powerful means of evangelisation.”
His main concern now is producing more music teachers.
“If we are going to have strong Catholic schools, well Catholic schools need to be producing strong Catholic teachers because if we don’t do it, who’s going to?” he said.
“I think that also means we need to respect teaching as a profession, because people don’t realise perhaps what teachers do and what we expect of teachers.”
By Emilie Ng