She sees her future teaching music to young students


Hong Kong native Ashley Leung, third-year Idyllwild Arts Academy junior music major, is the next Idy Talks speaker. The long-standing

Ashley Leung, Hong Kong native and Idyllwild Arts Academy music major, is the next speaker at the Idy Talks series sponsored by IAA. Ashley spends one week each summer in rural China teaching music to underprivileged students in grades one through six.
Photo by Marshall Smith

speaker series, once done in conjunction with the Idyllwild Community Center, is now a solo series produced by IAA.

An accomplished violinist, Ashley is preparing to become a teacher with the specific goal of inspiring young musicians — teaching in areas where music, as an educational component, is becoming less available.

Ashley will talk about her journey, as a ninth-grade music student, from her home in Hong Kong to Idyllwild and the academy, and the growth that migration has produced, both musically and culturally.

Although she will discuss the challenges any ninth grader would face journeying halfway around the world to an arts boarding school, she also will discuss her mission to help educate young music students in areas where musical opportunities are limited.

Beginning in 2015, Ashley organized, with the help of her father, a project to teach music one week every summer at Song Zi WenJiaHe Primary School in impoverished Hubei Province in central China. “My father donated a small computer lab with 20 desktop computers for the school in 2012,” she related, noting how her connection with the primary school began. “They have basic academic subjects and a few art classes, but no music.

“Each year, I invite four or five students who attend Idyllwild Arts to come with me to teach music and art to these underprivileged students.

Called “Teach Music for China,” its mission statement captures Ashley’s personal goal of offering music instruction in areas where it is not readily available. “Our mission statement is ‘to enrich and cultivate music education as a form of self-expression in an underprivileged school in China. Music is a powerful tool to transform lives.’”

As the core of her program, she and her volunteers teach violin and piano. Their students are in grades one through six. “We also teach recorder and play games to make the experience fun.

“There are many ways to become a musician, but not in an impoverished town. That is why we do what we do — to bring music to these young students.”

Ashley had to fund the program and obtained a grant and other contributions to do so. She continues to fundraise online to sustain the program. “I really like teaching,” said Ashley. “I love it seeing kids learn something in a different way. Growing up in the safe environment in which I did allows me to go outward, explore more, and to give more. Coming to Idyllwild Arts has made me aim higher. I thank God for this chance to start over and grow as a person and as an artist. I take things more seriously here at Idyllwild Arts because of the talent all around me. My teachers have exposed me to new ways of learning.

“There is this concept and demand at Idyllwild Arts that everyone needs to perform in class, to be fully present and engaged. And being in Idyllwild is perfect — far enough from city life to not be distracted and yet close enough to cultural events in Los Angeles.”

Ashley has studied violin, piano, flute and dance. Her talk is at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 at the Town Gallery on North Circle Drive.