Despite being easily distracted by sound, Visiting Professor of Music Lee Chambers has taken to leaving his office door open so the sound of music from the practice rooms down the hall can drift in.
For as long as he can remember, Chambers has loved music. He began singing in his church at the age of three in Detroit. His father, the church’s pastor, played the piano and his mother the clarinet.
“We weren’t really given a choice about whether to be in a band,” he said. “We were given the choice of what instrument to play.”
Chambers has known he wanted to spend his life making music ever since he discovered a rap album as a fifth grader in 1989. He took up the saxophone and kept singing. After studying voice performance as both an undergraduate and graduate student, he began teaching music, first privately and then at a community college where he taught a course on music appreciation. The content of that course set him on his current track: musicology, or the study of musical history and philosophy and learning why music sounds the way it does.
“That is the most important and simple question about music: Why does it sound like that?” he said.
In order to find a way to integrate the academic with the applied, Chambers went on to pursue a Ph.D in musicology and a graduate certificate in early music performance.
This idea of integration attracted him to Knox. He was impressed by the ways students here are encouraged to ask questions and apply what they learn. Chambers believes it empowers students to take what they have learned and meet the needs they see in the world.
Alongside teaching, Chambers has undertaken extensive research in various topics of musical study, all with the intention of learning what people think about music and how that fits in with their lives as well as seeing how their opinions impact the way they engage with music and what the music then sounds like, for musicians and listeners both. He has written papers on Alice Cooper, KISS and a myriad of African operatic pieces.
Chambers is currently teaching two introductory music and voice classes, as well as one music history class.