The Academy of Rock Music was founded in the fall of 2007 by Berklee College of Music alum and local resident Ron Lowder Jr. Lowder chose a cozy 700 sq ft office space within the Port Warwick section of Newport News to serve as a rehearsal hall for young musicians to try their hands at rock classics we all know and love. AoRM’s first semester began with a total of 13 students and grew to 25 before the program’s debut performance at Bay Haven Grille in Yorktown, VA on December 15th. On that Saturday afternoon six student-led groups thoroughly entertained over 250 screaming fans at the local restaurant. With AoRM’s first performance a smashing success, Lowder knew he had something special on his hands. His dream to combine his love of rock ‘n’ roll along with his ambition to teach the next generation of young musicians how to perform like consummate pros was being realized.
Through word of mouth and some great press, AoRM blossomed to more than 45 students by May of ’08. It was around that time Lowder formed a relationship with Eddie Hancock, owner of Alpha Music in Virginia Beach, and his wife Debbie. The three agreed that having the Academy program on the southside would be a great opportunity for young musicians as well as the local community. Along with the help of fellow music instructor and UVA alum Vasili Simmons, AoRM started classes at Alpha’s spacious performance hall in July of ’08.
AoRM is now home to over 120 young musicians in the Hampton Roads area. Students have performed at several clubs and festivals all over the peninsula and southside in front of thousands of fans. The prospects are very exciting with new talent continually coming through the doors of AoRM.