Monthly Archives: September 2015

Hello! My name is Julie Chambers and I started the Rios Music Project in my garage. My first instrument was the guitar. During my freshman year in high school I learned some basic chords, some finger picking skills, and was able to put them into action that next summer at summer camp playing songs from the Grateful Dead album “Skeletons From The Closet”. I had so much fun singing with my friends that I learned the whole album on my own, while slowly moving on to other artists such as Graham Nash, Paul Simon, and John Lennon.

My Sophomore year in high school, there was an opening for a bass player in the lowest level of our music program. The band director, Mr. Mark Peabody,  was a bass player himself and offered to teach me the basics if I was interested. I jumped in with two feet, absorbing the bass sounds and all of the lessons as fast as I could. I soon found myself playing in not only the school jazz band, concert band, and “pep” band but in some outside  ska, reggae, pop, and folk bands. If I wasn’t busy learning new bass lines, I was out listing to jazz musicians perform at Yoshi’s in Oakland, or deciphering Miles Davis Sketches of Spain on my car stereo. I was all in.

At the age of 17 one of the bands I was playing with asked me to join them in Hollywood. We played a string of shows at famous venues such as The Roxy and the Viper Room. I was too young to actually go into the bar so I was restricted to the stage and back stage loading area when I wasn’t actually performing.  After one performance, one of the bouncers..a large soulful looking black man told me with much sincerity, that I should, no matter what,  “keep on playin”.

When I got back from playing the Hollywood strip, I was so inspired that I went out seeking even more. I was lucky to be living in the same hometown as many classic rock superstars. Soon after my return from the road, I began working after school everyday as an intern for our San Rafael local rock legend, Carlos Santana. Working with Santana and the Santana Band was an amazingly rich experience. I got to sit beside Carlos’s personal sound engineer for hours at at a time while the band rehearsed. I learned from some of the best artists in the field and took that knowledge back to my personal playing and performing. The band members got to know me and admired my persistence. After each rehearsal I was allowed into their practice space to play around on all of their instruments. From bass to guitar to timbales, I explored the creative Santana Band artistic atmosphere.

On my way out of town and on to college,  Santana’s bass player- Benny Rietveld (Eh hem.. who previously had played with Prince and Miles Davis) asked me what kind of bass guitar I was bringing with me to college. I told him that until then I had been playing the high school’s American Fender jazz bass and didn’t have an instrument of my own. He told me not to worry, that he would order me one from his private bass crafter/builder. I went home from that visit with one of the worlds best musicians with a huge happy grin, only to return the next day to find out that the Santana band was gone, they had left for their European tour.

I really appreciated the gesture from Benny, but didn’t expect him to follow through with his offer. I knew how busy he would be on the road and that he probably only made the offer in passing. I must have read too deeply into it right? Wrong. About a week later I received a phone call from the bass maker. He asked me a string a questions about my playing style, performance location etc. About a week or so after that, I received in the mail a giant box with my hand crafted bass in it.

The instrument was lightweight, made for my smaller female frame.  It had a beautiful pearl finish and a few extra frets so I could extend my creativity a bit wider than most. I loved it.

Once I hit the college atmosphere in Santa Barbara, I quickly realized how much more I knew than most other musicians my age and I began teaching bass lessons in my dorm room. Some students took lessons just to see if I really had chops, others just wanted to learn to be cool. Either way, I repeatedly impressed my peers to the point where I was asked to join a local band that would eventually become the pop/rock  radio band Sugar Cult. I tried, and after realizing that I couldn’t in good faith commit to touring California with them in their band van, I declined. To this day, however, I have a deep respect for their music and what they brought to the pop scene in the 90’s.

At a casual party on a Saturday night I found myself jamming with a few friends in a garage near the beautiful coastal waters of Santa Barbara. I met two friendly musicians and we struck a nice “chord”. Soon thereafter we  formed a band called One Fine Day and proceeded to play almost every living room party and pizza place in town for three years. We has so much fun! My band-mates, however, were a few years older than me and when they graduated and I had a few more years to go, the band dissolved. I finished my degree in Ethno Musicology at UCSB and studied instruments from every corner of the world, only to find how similar they all are. Mostly in the joy they bring to us as a cultural group and as emotional, sentimental beings

I wasn’t a free agent for long, I was quickly introduced to a group of highly talented individuals including my now husband Jaime . We wrote songs, played shows and had lots of good times. When we had a little down time traveled though Europe taking in the sights and sounds. On our return, we were blessed with a pregnancy and decided to tie the knot. Nine months later we had Annabelle and I decided my gigging days were on hiatus, at best. I took up the cello and found a passion I never knew I had. The challenge of playing a fretless instrument with a bow was daunting but exciting at the same time and it rekindled my passion for learning musical instruments.

As a new mom to be, I dove into the art of listening. I listened to my unborn child’s heartbeat, and danced with my pregnant belly to the sounds of Jimmy Cliff and Cat Stevens. My nerves were soothed by the familiar rhythms as they all took on a new meaning. I was happier than I ever new was possible.

Anyone who has had kids can relate to this: after having babies 1 and 2 pretty much everything you did for work/fun/relaxation/hobby goes on hold and you focus mainly on keeping the family fed and bathed. This was my story for about 7 years until Annabelle started picking up instruments, singing songs and dancing all around the house. I knew right away that I had my first official student of the Rios Music Project.

Together as a family we all learn, grow, teach and experience music to it’s fullest. I find more joy in teaching children how to play music than I think I could ever experience in any other profession. I put my heart and soul into my lessons. In return, my students reaffirm to me the joy of learning at every stage. I now happily teach drums, guitar, bass, vocals, songwriting and performance.



We offer group classes at an affordable rate for students of all ages and levels. The class descriptions and details are listed below. All group classes are $45 for a drop in, or you can purchase a series of 5 classes for $160. Students who are placed in a RIOS Band can attend UNLIMITED skills classes. During the Summer Months, one series of classes will extend from Mid May to Mid August, and you can schedule your child's classes for the whole summer.

rios music project ukulele lessons ukulele class

Stepping Stones 1

This class is geared towards preschool and kindergarten age kids. We will explore music, rhythm, movement and singing. Parents can join in the last 15 minutes to learn some musical activities and games to do at home with their kids.

rios music project ukulele lessons ukulele class

Stepping Stones 2

This is a pre-band class perfect for the 1st through 3rd grade mini musicians. We will cover the basics of ukulele, drums, vocals, piano and singing. There will be an emphasis on learning songs from start to finish with a performance goal at the end of the quarter.

rios music project music class for young children

Guitar 1

Perfect for the student who is just starting out on guitar. Emphasis will be on mastering the basic chords and strumming patters, as well as building songbook of favorites.Skills covered include simple chords, strumming patterns, tempo and groove. We will create a custom songbook for each class to take home for practice. Students will learn how to tune and care for their instrument. No previous guitar experience necessary. Ages 7-9

Guitar 2

Perfect for the students who have their basic chords down and are ready for song exploration.

Rios Music Piano Group Class

Piano 1

This group class is perfect for the student who is interested in starting piano for the first time, or just brushing up on their skills.

Rios Music Piano Group Class

Piano 2

This fun, semi-private lesson will consist of 3 students each on their own piano. Students will be introduced to contemporary songs, classical music, theory and technique in a creative atmosphere.

Vocal 1

Perfect for the student who loves to sing and would like to grow their range, technique and repertoire.

Voice 2

This fun group is great for students who are ready to start learning harmony, lead singing, band performance and or musical theatre performance.

Percussion 1

Perfect for the student who is interested in learning drums. No previous drum experience necessary. All kinds of fun percussion techniques and skills will be covered.

Percussion 2

Perfect for the student who has chosen to focus on the drums as their main instrument and is ready to take their skills to the next level.

Bass 1

Perfect for the student who is interested in, or is just starting out on bass. No previous experience required. We will focus on bass skills while allowing time to explore other instruments as well.


Bass 2

Perfect for the student who has chosen bass as their main instrument and is ready to take it to the next level.


Songwriting 1

This class is great for the student who is curious about writing their own works of art for the first time. The class will have an emphasis on songwriting, while allowing for exploration around the studio and all the instruments in it.


Songwriting 2

Perfect who for the student who loves songwriting and would like to take it to the next level. We will cover the nuts and bolts of songwriting, poetry, lyrics, music theory and groove. We will also record and build a Soundcloud account for each student containing all their original works.


Audio/Visual 1

This fun class will introduce students to the technology behind the music. Topics covered include graphic design, web design, Garage Band, Logic Pro, photography and videography.




Amy Hartman

RIOS Music Teacher: Piano, Voice, Guitar

Amy Hartman is a  Rios Music Project Teacher and Band Leader. She is also the lead singer of the L.A based band Dragster Barbie. She has her B.A in Music History from the University of Pepperdine and has completed a 2-year course in Pop Composition at the Grove School of Music in Los Angeles. She also as developed and taught original music method for primary aged children as part of the Malibu Juan Cabrillo after school program.




Julie Chambers

School Director and Teacher: Guitar, Bass, Piano, Voice, Drums

Hello! My name is Julie Chambers and I am an experienced musician with a love of teaching. I am the mother to 2 musical children, and enjoy teaching people of all ages and abilities. I teach many instruments and I feel they all overlap, enhancing the students artistic abilities.



Kevin Erskine

RIOS Teacher: Guitar, Bass, Voice, Piano, Songwriting

Hi! My name is Kevin Erskine and I am a singer-songwriter from San Diego whose music is a folk/jazz blend of heartfelt lyrics and infectious melodies. In 2014, I graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music and I have performed in notable venues such as Carnegie Hall. I love to teach all ages and encourages my students to be creative and expressive with their music. Under my instruction, students can look forward to learning a variety of instruments while furthering their depth of knowledge in theory and musicality.


Inquire directly with the director: (805) 300 2037

give us a shout and lets have a chat


With the guidance of their music teachers students are taught to identify patterns in popular music, incorporate those patterns into their own ideas, and compose meaningful lyrics from the heart. We incorporate our songwriting curriculum into daily music lessons lessons, band practices and host several more intensive workshops throughout the year.


Students will experience the home studio recording experience using some of the best tools around. From setting up microphones, to balancing levels, to using the advanced recording tools in Logic, students works hard putting together their own original works of art.


Our Carlsbad studio is located about 2 minutes off the freeway at the Poinsettia exit. The studio space is modern, bright, air conditioned and full to the brim with instruments. We love our Vessel drum kit, our assortment of vintage and modern amps, and our recording rooms featuring a Neumman U87 for vocals and paino. The teaching staff at Rios can introduce students to all the areas of music in the studio, and when students are ready to specialize in one or tow two things, they are paired up with the correct group, class or private lesson instructor. The studio is situated in the BluWater Crossing complex which is stationed at the Poinsettia coaster stop, and has a patio waiting area and the coffee shop Invita a few steps away.



Violin Lessons

Whether you are just starting out, or need coaching direction on school or orchestra music, Lara brings both her passion and expertise to help you reach your musical goals!

Lara began playing violin 18 years ago and loves sharing musical education with others. She continues to study privately and currently performs with the MiraCosta College Symphony Orchestra First Violin section. Past orchestra experience includes the Primary Strings Ensemble, Strolling Strings, Civic Youth Orchestra, and Carlsbad High School Orchestra. She is a registered instructor through the Suzuki Association of the Americas and combines it with traditional methods to best accommodate every student. With focus on ear training, tone, and developmental repertoire, Lara makes learning to play violin a fun and fulfilling experience.