Ashley Chambers and her adorable students need a new school. Let’s make it happen.
What up, Drooble people? Don’t answer that, I’ll tell you what’s up. Ashley Keiko Chambers is an amazing musician, a great music teacher, an awesome human being and a real friend to her many and, as the title clearly states, adorable students. She’s been teaching for some time now, but Keiko Studios, her music academy, is currently operating from the back room of her parents’ martial arts school in NYC. Now stop reading for a few seconds and imagine trying to teach the piano to a little girl while in the next room a bunch of people are punching, kicking and throwing each other around, screaming at the top of their lungs. On top of that, the space triples as a girls’ changing room. Not cool, right? Well, the good news is that Ashley is not only beautiful and talented but also has the spirit of a real entrepreneur. She’s moving to a new location soon and needs some financing to renovate the place and turn it into a dream school for herself and her students, which are – I can’t stress this enough – the most adorable things you’ve ever seen. Seriously.
Ashley has created a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to spread the word and help make that new space exactly what it should be – a place of music, fun and love. I think it’s become quite obvious by now how big a deal this is, but if you still need convincing that Keiko Studios are worth your time and attention, maybe I should just show you this:
See what I mean? ADORABLE! Now, I know all of you are reaching for your purses and wallets at this very moment so I’ll tell you what to do next: support the campaign. Obviously.
Good. Now that you’ve done the right thing and have helped a talented and ambitious young lady and her little angels bring more music into the world, it’s time to introduce you to Ashley herself, which did us the honor of answering some questions for you guys.
Hey Ashley! When and how did your relationship with music start?
My relationship with music started in elementary school when I saw a friend of mine playing the piano in the auditorium of P.S 107. I was inspired and wanted to play the piano just like her. I asked my parents if I could take music lessons and they put my sister and I into organ lessons. I actually hated it when I first started because it was very hard, but once I began to understand it more I loved it! By the time I got to Junior high school I had developed a skill on the piano and wanted to play it in the band. Piano wasn’t option though, so I chose to play saxophone.
What instruments can you play and do you have a favorite one?
I can play the piano, saxophone, and flute. My two favorites are the piano and saxophone. They are two very different instruments and I love playing them both equally, but for different reasons. I love the piano because I can do so much at one time; bass, treble, melody, harmony, etc. I love the saxophone because it is so easy for me to improvise on it! Also, the timber is comparable to the human voice and I can evoke so much emotion through my horn because of that.
The most important thing I always try to instill in my students is the importance of expression through music and having fun. Sometimes music can be frustrating when you can’t get something right, and the music field can be very competitive. I never want my students to be turned off because of these things. I want them to express themselves freely through music, have fun, and not worry about what people think.
What have you learned from your students?
I have learned so much from my students; a majority of it non-musical! I not only learned that patience is a virtue, but it is something that is learned and can get better with practice. I also learned how to be a better teacher. Over the years, while teaching many different children I’ve picked up on what they respond to and what not to do.
Has music changed you? How?
Music has changed me into a person who is confident, expressive, and outgoing. Although I’ve been playing since I was a little girl, I wasn’t also this way, but through performing, composing, and becoming a better musician I have learned a lot about myself and figured out how to open up and express myself in new ways.
How is a musician different from a non-musician?
I believe a musician is different from a non-musician in the way we use our brain. We are so used to multitasking and using all parts of our brain in creative ways that when it comes to everyday tasks we approach things differently.
I want to build a music school because I want to give back to my community which lacks music programs. Music is such an important part of everyone’s life. Whether you’re a listener or a practitioner, music affects everyone’s life in some way. Music programs are unfortunately being cut from schools and children are not getting exposure to this important art form.
How did music education impact your life?
Music has been a driving force in my life since I was a little girl. If I didn’t have music I don’t know where I would be! Although it may have seemed like a small decision for my parents to “put the kids in piano lessons” along with the other various activities we were enrolled in, that decision completely shifted the course of my life. That small decision led to bigger opportunities, gave me an outlet to express myself and break out of my shell, (because I’m a very shy person!) and to not only make a living, but touch the lives’ of others.
How do you feel about music education being taken out of schools?
It is such a tragedy that music programs are underappreciated and therefore being cut from schools. The education system is doing a disservice to our children who would benefit from it so much! Music is one of the very few activities that activates, stimulates, and uses the entire brain. Not to mention it can be such a great break from the academic classes that the students take, and gives them a chance to be creative and use their brains in a different way.
How do you feel your music school would help your community?
I think having a music school in my community will give the children another avenue to explore themselves and their creativity. There are not many places in the community where children can go after school to participate in extracurricular activities, let alone music lessons. My school can be a place for children to spend their time constructively.
Do you think a place where musicians from all parts of the world can connect, support one another and exchange ideas is truly missing? Can Drooble be that place?
I think Drooble is an amazing platform for musicians to connect in an increasingly technologically advanced world. With Drooble I can easily find musicians to play with, speak to, and learn from. In some communities in the U.S this is not as easy as it sounds. I have been very fortunate to have many musicians around me in NYC, but not everywhere is like that. And even though I’m in NYC, Drooble allows me to connect to people around the world who are playing different styles of music that can influence my music in really cool ways!
If you still haven’t, don’t forget to support the Kickstarter campaign and tell all your friends about it!