Beating to Her Own Drum
Meet the Young, Up-and-Coming Musician and Vocalist Who Opened a Much-needed Music School in Her Community
New York-based, multi-talented musician turned-entrepreneur Ashley Keiko Chambers believes her life’s mission is to provide the disenfranchised youth of her community the access to the prestigious musical education that she didn’t have while growing up. So, she opened the first music academy in the heart of Queens Village, New York.
Ashley Keiko Chambers has been very, ahem, instrumental in cultivating art, history, linguistics, community, and multi-cultural influence in her urban hometown of New York. Chambers may only be 25, but with her illustrious resume, one would think this talented pianist, saxophonist, and vocalist has already lived a lifetime.
Having earned her master’s in Music and Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, the founder, president, and faculty member of Keiko Studios Music Academy also studied abroad at The Arts College at Xiamen University in China, where she gained indispensable knowledge of the myriad of ways arts, culture, and language interconnect in a multicultural/trans-cultural world. The busy student and professional performer also managed to find the time to earn her bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Her illustrious background includes performing at the historic Apollo Theater, Wollongong University in Australia, and for host Steve Harvey on the long-running game show, Family Feud.
Playing it Forward
As the lead saxophonist for Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem, Chambers continues to perform, educate, innovate, and advocate. Through hard work and fundraising, she unveiled Keiko Studios Music Academy in January 2018 in Queens Village, New York for both adults and children as a way of exposing music, culture, and artistic expression to a community where musical education had been disproportionately limited. And, the digs are pretty stellar. Her studio boasts state-of-the-art equipment and sophisticated technology, with a diverse curriculum of classes in all instruments, including strings, piano, guitar, percussion, brass, and even vocals. Comprehensive courses also encompass requisite lessons in music history, music theory, sight-reading, and creative composing, including staged recitals and other exciting performance opportunities at the semester’s end. Group and private classes are offered for all ages, including unprecedented piano lessons for the visually-impaired that are taught exclusively by a classically-trained, visually-impaired pianist. Room rentals are offered for local bands and solo performing artists. The extensive staff of select, skilled instructors includes Chambers herself. Students of all levels can even sign up for private, one-on-one lessons with Chambers. With the help of Kickstarter.com, supporters have pledged for additional rental rooms, equipment, instruments, renovations, staff, classes, and more. Chambers’ goal is to establish a “one-stop-shop” musical academy, facilitating the learning and development of all musicians of all ages, levels, and on all instruments.
Tooting Her Horn
Chambers has been immersed in the music scene since childhood, where she started studying classical piano-playing at the age of 10 and the alto saxophone by the age of 15. The accomplished musical maven maintains the beauty of music not only exposes one to different cultures and traditions but can be truly transformative and ultimately, life-saving. On opening her musical academy, “It is such an important cause, because when I was young, music pulled me through some tough times... Music was, and still is, my number one outlet to express myself and be creative in ways that no other activity allows me to be.” She is resolutely intent on inspiring the youth in her community – and beyond – to turn to the power of music to heal, to grow, to express, and to empower.
Now, that’s music to our ears.