Michelle Grace Hunder

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Meet the Music Teacher You Wish You Had in School

What can aspiring teachers learn from the iconic film 'School of Rock'? According to music teacher Aidan Prewett, a lot.

In Partnership with the Australian Government

Music is everything. 

That’s the answer Aidan Prewett gives when asked what music means to him. “Music is life. It’s sharing,” he says. “Music is taking something that you love and not just giving it to other people, but letting them experience it, play with it and mould it to be their own thing. That’s magic.” 

For Aidan, music goes beyond just being his profession. It’s his passion. From his relaxed vibe, quirky shirts, and pure love of music, it’s easy to see how Aidan takes inspiration from the fun-loving teacher in School of Rock

Just like Mr. Schneebly from School of Rock, he doesn’t only teach his students about song structure and techniques, he shows them how music can shape their life beyond school – from building confidence to finding their voice. 

This is the story of how Aidan became the rockstar educator every student wishes they had.

1. Embrace Unconventionality

The first time Aidan saw the movie School of Rock, he was glued to his seat. “I sat there in that theatre and the credits were rolling and I just had to stay in that seat until the ushers came and kicked me out,” he remembers. 

So, why was he so drawn to the unconventional character teaching a bunch of kids about ‘sticking it to the man’ through Rock ‘n’ Roll? Turns out, it’s less about the music, and more about the real connection with students. “[Mr. Schneebly] is an inspiration. The way that he connects with those kids, I take that into my life every day.” 

In fact, it’s the first thing he sees as he walks into his classroom each day. “My memento is this poster from School of Rock,” he says, pointing to a larger-than-life promo of the film. It serves as the centrepiece of Aidan’s educational philosophy. “It changed my perception of what a teacher could be. I wanna be like Jack Black.” 

2. Inside a Music Lesson

After 16 years as an Instrumental Music Teacher at a secondary school in Melbourne, Aidan has his daily class schedule down pat. 

“We rock up around 8.30am, head in, and set up the classroom. Wait for the school bell, then off we go,” he starts. Each lesson begins with a bit of theory, before diving into practical performances, which Aidan admits is “one of my favourite parts.” 

“It’s always different. There’s never two performances that are the same and seeing how each different group of people forms their own dynamic and attaches themselves to a song is pretty magical.” 

3. Making the Classroom a Home

Imagine a classroom where Mozart meets Metallica, where Beethoven and Beyoncé coexist. That’s Aidan’s arena, where students don’t just follow the curriculum – they curate it. There’s no blank walls or stacks of books, either. “I started putting records up on the walls and thought, when someone tells me to stop, I’ll stop.” Nobody ever did, so he kept adding. “They gave me a little bit of budget and I was like, record player, perfect.” 

For Aidan, it’s all about creating a space that feels like home, both for himself and his students. “This place is my home,” he says. “I feel like this is where I belong. I can’t really imagine ever leaving. It’s just a beautiful place to be.” 

By creating a space where students feel free to express themselves, Aidan not only amplifies their voices but also tunes into their individuality. “It’s about letting them experience music and mould it to be their own thing,” he explains.

4. Building a Legacy Through Music

According to Aidan, a teacher’s impact lives on long after their students leave school. He’s all about setting his students up for the future, whether that’s in music or not. “Some of them are going to go off and do music, some of them aren’t,” he says. “But all of them are going to take a little bit of our classroom with them into their life… and that’s pretty cool.” 

For those kids who do take off in music, like one of Aidan’s star students who was signed by Universal Music in the US, there’s an immense pride in knowing he played a part in their education. “She’s done an album and it’s now got 75 million Spotify streams,” he says. “And she started with me, that’s amazing.” 

That said, Aidan finds equal joy in witnessing shy students taking their first steps on stage, embodying the belief that teaching is about facilitating small yet significant victories in students’ lives. 

It’s clear: Aidan Prewett doesn’t just teach music, he lives it. And his students are all better for it. 

Watch our video with Aidan Prewett and learn about becoming a teacher in Australia at BeThatTeacher.gov.au. Already a teacher? Share your own story in the Online Teacher Gallery

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