Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney is a practitioner and researcher focussed on enhancing human potential and wellbeing through the arts from a historical perspective. A singer, educator, community outreach facilitator and trans-disciplinary researcher, she splits her time as co-Director of the Music Engagement Program, and Friends' Lecturer and Curator of the Classics Museum at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia.
Georgia began her musical training at age 4 in what was originally called the Music Education Program, an elite training program for children based at the Canberra School of Music. Georgia trained in music theory, voice and harp, until, like so many others, she eventually gave up all music making by the age of 14. Her final years of high school shied away completely from the creative arts, instead focussing on languages including Chinese, Japanese and English studies.
At age 17 Georgia finally was helped to overcome her lack of music making by spending a year in New York training in voice with Susan Burghardt Diamond and Claire Alexander (former voice coach to Frank Sinatra) and studying outreach arts methods at the Institute of Music and Health with founder Dr John Diamond (2002). The outreach approaches she learned helped her to regain confidence and gave her a purpose and intent with which to use her creative skills to help others.
Upon returning to Australia, Georgia became heavily involved in theatre and film, starring in stage shows and short films over the next decade. Most notably, in 2008 Georgia received the Best Actress (Leading Role in a Musical) Award at the Canberra Area Theatre Awards and a Canberra Critics Circle Award for her performance in the title role of Thoroughly Modern Millie with Canberra Philharmonic Society. She also won the Helen Wilson Memorial Award for Best Comedic Performance for her portrayal of Miss Mable Chiltern in An Ideal Husband with Canberra Repertory Society.
Throughout this period of performing Georgia completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Law and Classics at the Australian National University (2006), falling in love with studies of Ancient Greece in particular under the tutelage of Prof. Elizabeth Minchin. Georgia also worked at this time as a live-in carer for a woman who had suffered brain damage as a child, and through this experience Georgia came into contact again with the music program of her childhood. Dr Susan West, the founder of the program, had since adapted outreach philosophies to the school system, including passing on ideas and resources to teachers and communities within the Australian Capital Territory. Georgia was astonished by the enthusiasm and lack of fear displayed by the children of the newly developed outreach program, so starkly contrasted to her memories of strict instruction. This inspired her to complete a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education through Monash University (2009) majoring in the subjects of History and Studies of Society and Environment.
Georgia subsequently became a full-time employee of the Music Engagement Program, by then a part of the School of Music at the ANU, eventually undertaking the role of Convenor from 2011-2018. She graduated with her doctoral thesis in 2017, under the supervision of Dr West and Prof. Minchin at ANU. Her thesis developed a transdisciplinary framework encompassing history, ancient world studies, etymology, pedagogy, philosophy, and the origins of music in human society, for application to the everyday practice of music in classrooms and communities.
After leaving the School of Music in 2018, the MEP became a privately run organisation, of which Georgia is Co-Director with Dr West. Georgia's research shifted to the College of Health and Medicine from 2018-2022, where she undertook a range of research roles and fellowships within the ANU Medical School and the Centre for Mental Health Research. Her research during this period included projects concerning mental health peer work, medical education during COVID-19, and the impacts of music outreach in a range of contexts including those living with Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and its application in Occupational Therapy. In 2022 Georgia returned to her roots in the Centre for Classical Studies, as Friends' Lecturer and Curator of the ANU Classics Museum, funded through the philanthropic support of the Friends of the ANU Classics Museum. This role involves the development of new outreach and education programs for teachers, students and communities across the ACT and further afield.
Georgia has presented at International conferences across Europe, the UK, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. One such presentation resulted in the Program’s inclusion in the United Nations Compendium of Music as a Natural Resource (2013 and 2015), which is made available to members of the UN General Assembly. In 2016 Georgia was presented with a Children's Week Award by the Governor General of Australia for her work with Cranleigh School, a specialist school for children living with significant disabilities. A guest seminar at the University of Edinburgh's Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (2017) led to her appointment as External Examiner to the University of Aberdeen's Community Music degree program (2018-2020). In 2020 Georgia won a Research Fellowship with the National Library of Australia, exploring the community singing movement in interwar Australia (completed in 2022). In 2022 she is collaborating with colleagues at the ANU School of Music and the Royal College of Music (London) on an International Network for Musical Care, involving practitioners and researchers from across the globe in inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural sharing and development.