Meagan Hunt – Chief Executive Officer (She/Her)
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
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 (She/Her)
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.
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
Elyse Carmichael – Communications & Marketing Lead (She/Her)
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.
What was your first concert/gig? My mum bought me tickets to Kelly Clarkson
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
Asami Koike – Program Manager and Registered Music Therapist (She/Her)
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.
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 (He/Him)
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.
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
Rodney Pollak – Registered Music Therapist (He/Him)
I’m a registered music therapist who is passionate about finding ways for people to connect to themselves and to others through music. I love supporting people to explore what they’re capable of and love witnessing them to reach their potential. I have worked in various contexts including mental health, homelessness, community and other health settings. I currently also work in palliative care when I’m not working at Aardvark Music. I have been in various bands over the years that covered various genres from rock’n’roll, folk, to an electronic music funk/soul band.
What is your favourite thing to do when not working? Anything involving being in a state of flow – swimming in the bay, skiing, surfing, running, riding my bike, hiking, cooking/eating, meditating and music – playing music, listening to music and dancing to music
What was your first concert/gig? Savage Garden at Rod Laver in 1994, but the first concert that I look back at fondly is Michael Jackson at the MCG in 1996What are your top 5 artists/bands? The Beatles, Silverchair, Radiohead, Supertramp and Michael Jackson What is your favourite instrument? Guitar What is your favourite place to visit? Anywhere with snow
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.
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.
Marty Ydema – Resident Song Writer
I am a vocalist, composer, producer and workshop facilitator. I am also big a music technology nerd, so you’ll find me happy when I’m playing around with a new gear set up, trying a new experimental audio plugin, or learning a new music software. My goal is to help make music technology less intimidating, and to break down the barriers for people to join in music writing, music making and music production. I am excited to be a part of the Aardvark sessions as the supporting songwriter.What is your favourite thing to do when not working? Camping, hiking, going to gigs by local artists, listening to music and making music myself. What was your first concert/gig? I can’t remember exactly, but Caro Emerald (in Amsterdam, 2011) must have been one of the first ones in a big concert hall. What are your top 5 artists/bands? Fever Ray, Björk, Jenny Hval, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Pauline Oliveros. What is your favourite instrument? My laptop! What is your favourite place to visit? Rivers, especially ones that you can swim in.