About
Us

Aardvark Music is a Melbourne based not for profit organisation that provides song-writing and music opportunities for young people aged between 14 and 24 who have a passion or talent for music. Music therapists, musicians and youth mentors work with young people to write, record and perform original music together in groups while creating a community to stay connected to.

Aardvarkians (the program participants) are young people, experiencing adversity due to chronic illness, mental health challenges, unstable homes lives or experiencing acute personal adversity. Participants are referred to Aardvark from a range of youth support services, who have identified in them a passion and aptitude for musical connection with others.

Founded in 2007, by a group of Melbourne musicians, young people and music therapists, Aardvark Music was designed to fill an identified need for young people who were musical, had a need to connect with a like-minded community and share their stories, but were often unable to access mainstream music opportunities. Aardvark Music sits within the music and health industries and programs combine the expertise of performing musicians and music therapists, who co-facilitate to offer a dual focus on music skills and personal development.

Aardvark Music’s Guiding Principles

  • We are a fun, friendly, proud and bold community of young people, recording artists, music therapists and music lovers who believe in equal access for all
  • Our programs are facilitated by both recording artists and music therapists as musical, social and emotional development are all important to us
  • We are inspired and directed by the insights of our young community and involve them at all levels of our organisation
  • We believe in creative expression and its power to connect, inspire and transform
  • We produce incredible, professionally recorded original music every year.
  • We provide opportunities for continued learning and pathways through our regular ongoing programs and gigs.
  • We forge deep friendships, support one and other and foster a sense of belonging
  • We love how creating beautiful music together in a safe and supportive place can allow confidence to grow and thrive.
  • At our core we aim to improve lives through music

Meet the Team

About-us-Meagan

Meagan
Hunt

Sarah
Summers

About-us-Asami

Asami
Koike

Yeo-aardvark

Yeo
Choong

About-us-Morgan

Morgan
Jacobs-Leahy

Elyse-Carmichael

Elyse
Carmichael

Meagan Hunt – Chief Executive Officer

For the past 17 of the 22 years I have been a music therapist I have worked with vulnerable young people specialising in group work, program development and leadership. I am passionate about the use of music and creativity to assist young people to find their full potential. I believe all young people should have equal access to music opportunities and skills development. I first heard about Aardvark in 2008 from the father of a patient I was working with. I then met Founders Sarah Summers and Bel Harper and I was hooked. I wanted to be involved from then on.

I have many career highlights but a few that stand out are; having been involved in the development of Aardvark Music since 2008 first as a Board member, then as the music therapist and now the Executive Director; Leading a volunteer project in Romania at just 24 yrs old; Developing and implementing a Music As Therapy project at a home for young people with disabilities Working with a group of young Sudanese refugees to investigate the use of music therapy to foster a sense of belonging for my research master’s degree, completed in 2006; and  successfully convening five National Music Therapy Conferences and one Australian Association of Adolescent Health Conference

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What is your day job?
Executive Director of Aardvark Music and Program Manager of the Chronic Illness Peer Support Program, Royal Children’s Hospital
What was your first concert/gig? U2 Zoo TV Tour on my last day of year 12 in the front row!
What are your top 5 artists/bands? Queen, Bill Withers, Amy Winehouse, Debussy, Mozart
What is your favourite instrument? The piano
What is your favourite place to visit? Any bush or forest surrounded by nature with my little son.

Sarah Summers – Co-Founder, Partnerships Director

I am a musician with a Bachelor of Performing Arts and Music Composition. My musical pursuits have included composing for film and stage, writing and recording albums, teaching piano and voice and performing my own original contemporary music. For a number of years I worked as Captain Starlight for the Starlight Foundation entertaining hospitalised children across Australia with poorly executed magic tricks and silly dancing. My passion for this role and the inspiring young people I met, combined with my musical background and observation of the amazing work of music therapists, led me to become a Co-Founder and then Artistic Director of Aardvark. After having time off raising two little ones I’m happy to be back at Aardvark Music as Partnerships Director and am excited about where the future will take us.

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What is your day job? Partnerships Director at Aardvark Music
What was your first concert/gig? My Dad’s bush band!
What are your top 5 artists/bands? Elbow, Tori Amos, Imogen Heap, Pearl Jam, Bjork, Bach (sorry cant narrow it down to 5!)
What is your favourite instrument? Piano
What is your favourite place to visit? Wye River on The Great Ocean Road

Asami Koike – Music Therapist

I am a registered music therapist and yoga teacher who is passionate about the role of creativity and movement in our health and wellbeing. I love working with young people and have worked in the youth homelessness, developmental trauma and youth mental health contexts prior to Aardvark Music. I am passionate about delivering therapy in both a trauma-informed and culturally-responsive manner to support those affected greatly by the many systemic injustices that exist in our society today.

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What is your day job? I am the music therapist at Aardvark Music and a music therapy tutor at The University of Melbourne
What was your first concert/gig? I think my parents took me to the Billy Joel x Elton John concert when they toured together!
What are your top 5 artists/bands? Lauryn Hill, No Doubt, Boards of Canada, Beyonce and Taylor Swift
What is your favourite instrument? Voice
What is your favourite place to visit? Japan

Yeo Choong – Resident Song Writer

My career began when I released my first record independently, as a teenager in 2006. Six albums later, I’ve toured Australia countless times and my skills as a songwriter, producer and performer have taken me to incredible places all over the globe including Canada, Ecuador, Japan, the United States, Iceland and Singapore. I’ve since had the pleasure of working as the musical director for Emma Louise, playing piano for Lisa Mitchell and bass for Mo’ju, brandishing a keytar on ABC’s Spicks and Specks and triple j’s Like A Version, and singing with Peking Duk and Hermitude in front of 20,000 screaming kids at Splendour and Big Pineapple festivals. I’ve spoken at panels to share my skills and advocate for diversity and equality at events run by Face The Music, Music NSW and Music Victoria. I truly enjoy working to strengthen the talent of those who aren’t naturally granted the same industry opportunities as everyone else. It’s with these values that I find myself proudly at Aardvark Music as the resident songwriter.

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What is your day job? Producer, songwriter, session musician, DJ and musical director.
What was your first concert/gig? Silverchair, the Diorama tour
What are your top 5 artists/bands? Mariah Carey, Timbaland, Rihanna, Joji, Kehlani
What is your favourite instrument? Bass guitar
What is your favourite place to visit? Cycling through rural Japan in cool autumn or sweltering summer 

Morgan Jacobs-Leahy – Youth Support Lead

I started in Aardvark as a participant back in 2016, and have been mentoring and volunteering my time to the program ever since. I am now lucky enough to officially become a member of staff as Aardvark’s first ever Youth Support Lead. I have a great passion for assisting young people and watching them grow. I also have a love of music, with my main instrument being drums. I also love to mess around on guitar and keys, as well as write songs for myself and my band. I believe everything you do in life has to have at least a little bit of fun involved, so I try to bring this to everything I do.
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What is your day job? I work in retail in the CBD.
What was your first concert/gig? Ed Sheeran! He is still one of my
favourite artists to this day.
What are your top 5 artists/bands? Mallrat, Twenty one Pilots, Declan
McKenna, Jack Stauber and Shawn Wasabi.
What is your favourite instrument? Even though I’m a drummer, I have found
a new love for the Kalimba!
What is your favourite place to visit? There’s a small park on my street
that I love to go to, especially to write or listen to music.

Elyse Carmichael – Marketing and Engagement Lead

Starting off as a musician and music lover at an early age, I am passionate about the role that music and performance has in creating safe, healthy and fun places for young people to express their creativity and passion for the arts. With a diploma in Music specialising in Voice from the Australian Institute of Music and further degrees in Entertainment Management, specialising in Digital Marketing, Public relations and Communications, my speciality lies in creating content driven marketing campaigns, social media and digital platform management, and communications and copywriting services all tailored specifically towards the entertainment and arts industry.
Additionally, I can also be found vocal directing the young cast at Players Theatre Company for their musicals and the Junior Theatre Celebration, as well as serving as a committee member and teaching singing, piano and music theory at my home studio. I am extremely excited to be working with Aardvark Music as Marketing Lead and look forward to contributing to the growth and success of such a special organisation.

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What is your day job? Marketing Lead at Aardvark Music and Digital Marketing Specialist at Interact Hub Group
What was your first concert/gig? My mum bought me tickets to Kelly Clarkson which was my first stadium gig but I went to a lot of musicals and performances before that also with my family.
What are your top 5 artists/bands? Just 5 is so tough! Sara Bareilles, Queen, Adele, Thomas Newman, Etta James
What is your favourite instrument? Voice or Piano
What is your favourite place to visit? Memphis for the blues music on Beale St or Apollo Bay with my family

“Aardvark made me happy when I was the most unhappy I’d ever been. Not only did Aardvark encourage me to express myself, it allowed a space where judgement and self- criticism did not impede that expression”

Eva – Aardvark Participant

Meet the Board

click here to learn more
Chris Klingbeil
Chris Klingbeil
Founder and Managing Director of Touchstone Consulting Executive Search
Mary Robb
Mary RobbVice Chair
Associate Director, Indigenous Partnerships, University of Melbourne
Alistair Brown
Alistair BrownTreasurer
CFO at Save the Children Australia
Sophie Coleman
Sophie ColemanSecretary
Lawyer and Company Secretary at Save the Children Australia
Andrew Deane
Andrew DeaneBoard Member
Associate Director, Development & Parnterships at Asia Society Australia
Andrew Dillon
Andrew DillonBoard Member
General Counsel and General Manager of Legal, Integrity & Compliance at AFL Victoria
Cameron McFarlane
Cameron McFarlaneBoard Member
Managing Director and Co-Founder at The Bucha of Byron
Elly Scrine
Elly ScrineBoard Member
Registered Music Therapist and Lecturer at the Univesrity of Melbourne

Our Supporters

We would like to thank our wonderful supporters for allowing us to deliver our work with confidence knowing our community is held into the future. Read more about what a partnership with Aardvark Music means…

Find out More

Our Ambassadors

ambassador-stonefield

Gotye

Wouter “Wally” De Backer known professionally as Gotye is a Belgian-born Australian multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. Wally’s musical projects are varied and eclectic and his talent is formidable. Wally has topped charts and won awards worldwide, including multiple ARIAs and Grammys. In 2011 Wally co-facilitated the Aardvark Sessions with Monique Brumby and has since been involved with Aardvark as a sponsor and an official ambassador. Wally’s talent and generous and relatable character have bought so much to the Aardvark Sessions program and the organisation as a whole. We can not thank Wally enough for his continued involvement and support.

“Aardvark is a fantastic program and it has resulted in a really brilliant CD that I’ve been privileged to be part of, making music with an amazing bunch of young folks. I’ve seen them do incredible things as they’ve become friends and come out of their shells and written amazing lyrics, melodies and chords and put together songs I think are fantastic and I’ve really enjoyed being part of it.” Wally De Backer (Gotye)

watch the video

Stonefield

Stonefield is an Australian rock band made up of four sisters: Amy, Hannah, Sarah, and Holly Findlay. Stonefield is from Darraweit Guim, a small town in rural Victoria. The band won the 2010 Triple J Unearthed High contest in 2010 and was subsequently placed on high rotation. Since then they have gone from strength to strength performing far and wide from the famous Glasonbery festival in the UK to the MCG in Melbourne. Stonefield’s third album ‘Far From Earth’ will be released in April 2018. Stonefield have been working with Aardvark since 2014. They began by visiting the young people at the Aardvark Sessions, helping the Aardvarkians shape their songs. Later on, Hannah and Sarah joined the Aardvark Board until their touring and band commitments saw them on the road a lot more. We are delighted now to have Stonefield as our Ambassadors and look forward to working with them into the future.

watch the video

Monique Brumby

Monique Brumby is a much celebrated, Aria award winning singer-songwriter and producer. Monique began as volunteer facilitator with Aardvark in 2011 with Wally De Backer. She gave an incredible amount of her time and talent to the program and had an extremely positive impact on the young people she worked with. Monique then moved to Creative Director, lead Songwriter and Facilitator between 2013 and 2015, again taking the organisation from strength to strength. Monique is now a wonderful Ambassador to Aardvark and her passion and commitment contributes greatly to our community.

watch the video

Visiting Artists

Many performing artists make an invaluable contribution to Aardvark Music by running workshops and master classes in their areas of expertise. This allows Aardvarkians to build their music skills and learn from the lived experience of professional musicians working in the music industry.

We’ve had Missy Higgins sharing a few songs on the baby grand and then chatting about her experience with music growing up, Ben Abraham jamming with us, David Bridie giving production tips in the studio and Beatrice Lewis sharing her incredible journey as a musician through different genres and career paths!

If you are a performing musician and would like to volunteer with Aardvark as a visiting artist please get in touch, we would love to have you involved. We welcome volunteer artists but also employ guest artists to run workshops based on their unique skills and industry experience. We appreciate the dedication of the following artists that have chosen to contribute their time and share their knowledge with participants.

Missy Higgins, Ecca Vandal, Liz Stringer, Beatrice Lewis (haiku Hands),Ben Abraham, Tanya Cavanagh, Rebecca Barnard, Tully Sumner, May Johnston, Spiderbait, Imogen Heap, Paul Dempsey, The Living End, Sol Nation, David Bridie, Cameron Tapp

If you are a musician and would like to share your skills, we would love to hear from you.

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