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 – Executive Director

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 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

Board

Board

Board


Mary Robb

Vice Chair

Mary is an experienced community development practitioner who champions, leads and drives change. For over 30 years Mary has worked across a wide number of organisations, groups, local government and the education sector to achieve systemic change, build capacity, create opportunity and achieve equity. Mary is passionate about working in communities, facilitating and enabling people to work together and decide how to move forward. Mary loves to create opportunities for people to shape the ways in which their community responds to the needs and aspirations of local people. Mary is an experiential learner and strategic thinker whose skills and knowledge include community governance, facilitation, project management, negotiation, consultation, influence and partnership management. Some recent projects Mary has worked on are: The design and introduction of strategic community place based engagement programs at the University of Melbourne, to achieve social, economic and cultural impact and a successful state-wide Neighbourhood House campaign, achieving a recurrent budget increase of over 100% and the first capital works allocation for purpose built facilities and upgrades.

What is your day job?  Associate Director, Indigenous Partnerships, University of Melbourne.

Why did you become an Aardvark board member? I was introduced to Aardvark by a family member and I was impressed with the philosophy and innovative approach of the program, the quality of the people working for Aardvark and what the organisation was achieving. I enjoy working with grassroots organisations and I felt that my experience in community governance could contribute to the organisations aspirations to grow and reach more young people.

 What was your first concert/gig? Electric Light Orchestra

 What are your top 5 artists/bands? Waifs, Missy Higgins, Leonard Cohen, Paul Kelly, Norah Jones

 What is your favourite instrument? Cello

 What is your favourite place to visit?  Ardyloon, Djarindjin, Lombadina and Beagle Bay – Dampier Peninsula – North West Coast of WA
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Board


Andrew Deane

Board Member

Andrew Deane is the Associate Director, Development & Partnerships for Asia Society Australia.
Andrew is passionate about listening to and working with individual and corporate stakeholders to understand values and interests as the best way to identify opportunities for exciting, meaningful and long-term partnerships. He is also passionate about ensuring greater equity of opportunity for young people, especially when it leads to young people finding their own voice.

Andrew’s professional experience stems from 10 years in fundraising and relationship management in the tertiary education and not-for-profit arts sectors in Melbourne and Sydney, in addition to 10 years of previous project management experience in Australia, Japan and China across in education, research and legal services.

Graduating from the Australian National University with a double degree in Economics (Economic History major) and Asian Studies (Japanese major) highlights Andrew’s interest for Asia and Asian languages and culture. Andrew has lived some 6 years in both Japan and China, and has studied and speaks fluent Japanese, highly functional Chinese (Mandarin) and basic Indonesian.

Given his interest in people, Andrew became a Commonwealth registered marriage celebrant in 2018.

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What is your day job? Associate Director, Development & Partnerships for Asia Society Australia.

Why did you become an Aardvark board member? Sarah Summers. I also have a passion for young people having access to opportunities that help them thrive and expand their world view.

What was your first concert/gig? C&C Music Factory in 1991

What are your top 5 artists/bands? Kylie Minogue, Eartha Kitt, Soul II Soul, George Maple, Dolly Parton

What is your favourite instrument? Piano

What is your favourite place to visit? Supermarkets and grocery stores when travelling interstate or overseas.
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Board


Andrew Dillon

Board Member

Andrew is the General Counsel and General Manager of Legal, Integrity & Compliance for AFL Victoria. Andrew Completed Articled Clerkship at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and then worked as an in-house legal counsel at Village Roadshow Limited prior to joining the AFL in August 2000. Was appointed AFL General Manager Legal & Business Affairs in June 2004 with responsibility for legal and business operations of the AFL. From November 2011 to July 2013 was AFL General Manager – National and International Development & General Counsel before taking us his current role in July 2013. Current board member of Champion Data Holdings Pty Ltd, AFL Northern Territory, Australian Football League (Victoria) & AFL Sports ready.

Why did you become an Aardvark board member? Being heavily involved in sport for a job at community level and seeing what it can do to bring communities together and assist people I was really interested to see how music can do the same and to play a small role in enabling that.

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What was your first concert/gig? U2 – 1984 at the sports and entertainment Centre in Melbourne (now Collingwood’s training venue).

What are your top 5 artists/bands? U2, Rolling Stones, Kiss, Hilltop Hoods.

What is your favourite instrument? Saxophone (can’t play it though)

What is your favourite place to visit? Broome, WA

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Meet the Board


Chris Klingbeil

Chair

Founder and Managing Director of Touchstone Consulting Executive Search, Chris Klingbeil is one of Australia’s leading senior executive search consultants. Chris has worked with several top 100 and multinational corporations, federal government departments, and not for profit organisations in Australia and the USA. Chris holds a BA – Comm from Washington State University, USA. Chris is a dedicated music fan, a guitarist and hails from the grunge music capital of the world, Seattle. Chris has been part of Aardvark’s board since its inception and Touchstone Consulting not only donate to Aardvark annually but have also provided office space for over ten years and ongoing mentoring of Aardvark’s staff.

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Chris:
What is your day job?  Business Owner/Executive Search Consultant

Why did you become an Aardvark board member?  When I saw that Aardvark was delivering something incredibly unique, I had to be a part of it.  I love music and I love watching young people realise their potential, so it was a great combination!

What was your first concert/gig? The Beach Boys (I think)

What are your top 5 artists/bands?  Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Tom Petty, James Taylor, Foo Fighters

What is your favourite instrument? Guitar

What is your favourite place to visit? The Corner Hotel band room.  Or Seattle if you want a city
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Board


Cameron McFarlane

Board Member

Cameron is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of The Bucha of Byron. He has 23 years global marketing experience in FMCG food and beverage companies including Bacardi, Fosters, Heinz, Nestle, General Mills. Cam’s last role in corporate was as the Regional Marketing Director – APAC for Bacardi, based in HK. Cam has also spent two years working in a health and well-being start up brand.
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What is your day job? I run a Kombucha business

Why did you become an Aardvark board member? I had long heard about the program through my friend Chris and greatly admired the work. I have always loved music and to see Aardvark harness it to genuinely change people’s lives for the better was inspirational.

What was your first concert/gig? INXS – Listen like Thieves

What are your top 5 artists/bands? Radiohead, Ween, Foo Fighters, Eminem, Violent Soho

What is your favourite instrument? Guitar

What is your favourite place to visit? Tokyo

Board


Sophie Coleman

Secretary

Sophie is a lawyer who works with Save the Children Australia, one of Australia’s largest aid and development agencies dedicated to helping children. Sophie made the move from a commercial law-firm because she believes that every child has the right to be protected from harm, and to access quality education and health services. Sophie holds a Bachelor of Arts/Law with Honours from Monash University, and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Melbourne Business School (University of Melbourne). In 2011, Sophie co-founded School’s A Gift, a not for profit organisation helping to increase school enrolment and attendance in deprived areas of Ethiopia. In her spare time, Sophie is an avid and long-suffering Melbourne Demons supporter, who is cautiously pessimistic about their chances in the next few years.
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Sophie:
What is your day job? Lawyer and Company Secretary at Save the Children Australia

Why did you become an Aardvark board member? I love being able to assist wonderful organisations that support young people who are having a tough time. And I love music. It’s a win-win.

What was your first concert/gig? Pink Floyd 1988 at the Tennis Centre. I was 6 years old.

What are your top 5 artists/bands? Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Old Crow Medicine Show, Beethoven, Mike Oldfield, Daft Punk (yes I’m aware that’s 6)

What is your favourite instrument? Cello

What is your favourite place to visit? Wilson’s Prom

Board


Alistair Brown

Treasurer

Alistair is the CFO for Save the Children Australia. A finance executive with over 25 years experience in a variety of senior finance related roles in Australia and internationally, particularly Asia. Alistair spent the first 10 years of his career in Chartered Accounting at Deloitte, has a Bachelor of Commerce and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia. Alistair also enjoys playing keyboards with his band Epstein’s Mother.
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What is your day job?  CFO, Save The Children

Why did you become an Aardvark board member?  Great way to mix my passions for music, helping others and finance (as Treasurer). What Aardvark does really hit the sweet spot for me.

What was your first concert/gig? First concert – Elton John 1979 at Festival Hall, with just him and, for the second half, his percussionist. I don’t think I truly appreciated what I was seeing at the time.

What are your top 5 artists/bands?   Van Morrison, Ray Charles, Dr John, Stevie Wonder, HER

What is your favourite instrument? My Kawai Grand Piano!

What is your favourite place to visit?  Any good beach, preferably with nice waves.
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“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

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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