Helen Tuyl has always loved music, so it's fitting that she has spent the past 40 years following her passion.
She has taught thousands of students across Maitland in that time and her devotion to giving them a music education has earned her the TMB Teacher Recognition Award at Sydney's Festival of Instrumental Music.
It was the icing on the cake for Ms Tuyl, who took her students from Millers Forest and Gillieston public schools to perform at the event.
They were among 4500 public school students from across the state who performed in combined recorders and string ensembles and were supported by individual items from instrumental soloists, vocalists and ensembles.
It's something she has been doing for 15 years and during one of those years she had five Maitland schools involved. She is just as passionate about the program now as she was when it began.
"I enjoy the whole experience, it's not just about taking the children to perform at the Sydney Opera House - it's also about their parents coming and watching a live performance where their own children are on stage," she said.
"The concert is professionally done and is an experience in itself. The recorder group plays three songs, one at the beginning, the middle and the end of the concert. In between there are many other different performances.
Ms Tuyl was humbled to receive the award and she still had no idea who nominated her.
"Music is an important subject for all young children," she said.
"It leads to better brain development and connects children of all ages and abilities and helps build self-esteem.
"I have found that children don't see music lessons as stressful and to see the enjoyment and satisfaction when they have learnt and performed a piece well is the reason I love teaching music in schools."
Her students started preparing for their Opera House performance in February and took to the stage in July.
Ms Tuyl teaches one day a week at Gillieston, Millers Forest and Branxton public schools.