Simone Collins is employed as the WAMTA Secretary / Treasurer / Office Administrator 12 hours a week, and is also the PR Coordinator. She teaches piano, electronic organ and theory in Canning Vale.
When and where were you born?
I was born in Perth in the 1970s.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional tennis player, an archaeologist, a professional musician, and when my parents nixxed that, an astrophysicist. I did actually complete a degree in the latter at university, but it was no where near as interesting at it sounded!
Where have you lived?
Aside from a 6 month stint in Argentina, where my ex husband is from, I have lived in Perth all my life.
How would you describe your cultural identity?
I am a 5th generation Aussie on both sides of my family. I took an Ancestry DNA test and it sadly had no surprises - the most exciting part is the Viking component of our very UK-centric heritage!
What is your favourite hobby?
I enjoy doing puzzles. These days I tend to do them in apps, which saves on buying puzzle books all the time.
What is your favourite travel destination?
To relax, I prefer going somewhere warm, preferably tropical! My last holiday was to Port Douglas 6 years ago - we'd love to go back to far north Queensland again.
What kind of pets do you have, if any? What are their names?
I have a 16 year old cat called Ruby.
What was your first job?
I started working as a medical receptionist when I was 16.
Have you changed careers? What was your first career?
I completed two science degrees with majors in Physics, IT Systems and Maths, and ended up in the IT industry for many years. First in computer support, then programming, and eventually wound up in website development. I later retrained in natural therapies, and ran my own natural therapy clinic for a number of years as well.
Why did you choose to work as a teacher?
My own music teacher, Jan Veal, encouraged me to start teaching when I moved out of home at 19. I taught while I was studying at University, but took a break while I worked in the IT industry. While I worked at UWA, a few people did ask me to give family members some lessons, and I ended up getting back into some teaching then. When I had my first child, I started advertising myself as a teacher again, as it seemed to have the most flexibility and reliability of income whilst raising my children compared to the other work I have done.
Why do you like your job?
It's wonderful to be able to share your passion with others. I really enjoy seeing children grow both in terms of their skills and their interests (and as people in general!) and I feel immense pride at seeing how my students progress.
How would you describe your career in three words?
Varied! Rewarding. Fun!
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
As a musician, I was the youngest ever in WA to progress through to the State Finals of the Yamaha Electone Organ Festival at 10 years of age.
As a music teacher, I was thrilled to be nominated for the first ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award.
Describe a time that your career was rewarding.
I regularly find my teaching to be rewarding. I felt immense pride at an organ student completing her Associate level diploma with Honours at the beginning of this year. This week I've equally felt pride at a 7 year old boy confidently sight reading a series of new pieces and showing great enjoyment in the process, after having been a very challenging student whose attendance had fallen to an average of 40% and struggling to retain much with the initial lack of commitment (and on more than one occasion I wondered why his family were bothering with lessons!).
What is a valuable lesson you learned in your career?
Regular professional development is invaluable, even if it's informal learning by chatting to other teachers over a coffee about what they do. I've picked up so many useful apps and strategies from other teachers, and I've been able to pass those ideas on to others.
If you could give a younger person career advice, what would it be?
Seek mentors! Learning is lifelong, even as a teacher. Take as many opportunities as you can to expose yourself to other ways of doing things, both from a pedagogy perspective but also with the business side of running your own business.
What do you think is the key to professional success?
Always looking for how you can improve and add value.
What do you enjoy most about the music industry?
Music can universally be enjoyed by everyone at all stages of their life, and it's such a wonderful way to connect with people on an emotional level.
What is your favourite memory from your career so far?
I don't have one particular favourite memory, but my 16 year old daughter is also a keen musician and I really treasure being able to spend time together sharing our mutual love of music. Although her primary instrument is the drum kit, she does tinker on the piano, and I enjoy hearing her play arrangements I've written for her.