The Academy of Rock Music: A stepping stone for local talent

Ron Lowder works with a student during a lesson at The Academy of Rock Music. (Photos by Peter Soter)

The Academy of Rock Music, established in 2007, is a locally owned music performance studio with locations in Newport News and Virginia Beach. Owner Ron Lowder, a determined and hardworking individual, spends countless hours each week encouraging both young and adult musicians to achieve their dreams and aspire through music. 

With a passion to make music an endearing part of people’s lives, Lowder strives to ensure his instructors provide the best musical instruction to their students, allowing them to grow with their musical abilities. Operating year-round, the Academy hosts spring, summer and fall sessions when bands are formed and students are taught individual parts, allowing them to work together and make music as one. 

At the beginning of each semester, students are selected for a band, determined by their age and skill level. Each band consists of approximately six to eight students, composed of three to four guitarists, a bassist, a keyboardist, one to two drummers and one to three vocalists. Throughout each semester, bands meet once a week for a two-hour rehearsal period in which they receive musical instruction from a team of highly qualified, multi-instrumentalist instructors, including Lowder. 

When he is not at the studio teaching or running the music program, Lowder enjoys group workouts at the gym and spending time with his family and four children. Outside of family responsibilities, Lowder’s time is spent at the Academy, where he coordinates private lessons as well as band performances to help ensure that each musician is successful. “Aside from being the typical music lesson facility, we offer private lessons as well as help place students into bands based on individual skill level in which they practice throughout the spring and fall seasons, concluding with a public performance at semester’s end,” says Lowder. 

After a slow beginning, it wasn’t long before The Academy of Rock Music had a full band and private lesson schedule, allowing students to build lifelong friendships and to create memories that last a lifetime. “I could never complain about being able to play and teach rock and roll all day. Getting to watch my students grow through their musical abilities is one of the most rewarding experiences, and to have that effect on my students is incredible,” says Lowder. 

Ron Lowder on stage.

Lowder continues, “Though I initially came in as a music instructor and not a business owner, I am far more successful than I initially expected. We were even successful during the pandemic because we could continue private lessons through Facetime and Zoom, keeping the program alive during that time.” 

When asked if he could go back and give himself one piece of advice, Lowder says “Since it took me a while to learn to prioritize private lessons and band schedules when I started, I would tell myself to hire people right off the bat because there is only so much that one person can handle when running a business and holding private lessons.” 

With plans for further business expansion by 2024, Lowder aims to have a Newport News location to house an in-house venue for his program, as well as to woo other local bands to Hampton Roads. “I would like to find a building to house lessons, rehearsals, performances, as well as a good sound system and acoustic treatment in order to be one of the best performance venues in Hampton Roads,” says Lowder. Now slammed with private lessons and band performances throughout the year, The Academy of Rock Music continues to grow, changing lives one by one through music. 

About Kayla Brundick 8 Articles
Kayla Brundick is a senior at Christopher Newport University (CNU) in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in English with a writing concentration. Alongside her academic course work, Kayla is also a social media promoter for the CNU Writing Center, gaining substantial social media marketing and writing skills. Outside of academics, she enjoys reading, writing, spending time with friends and family and traveling to new places. After graduation, Kayla will pursue a career in public relations as well as obtaining a master’s degree in English writing.