A hub for both art and industry, this highly progressive school provides one of the most comprehensive curriculums to be found anywhere in the country with a holistic approach that develops both passion and practical skills.
Housed in the Lakehouse Music Building—which also serves as HQ for two world-class recording studios, rehearsal rooms, and Russo Music—the academy offers students of all ages and every level access to a complete, lifelong education. Case in point: the academy’s Artist Program, which takes students through the creation of an entire album. “It’s more than just developing skills as a musician or singer,” says founder Jon Leidersdorff. “They’re learning how to produce, write, promote an album, develop a social media presence… we want to develop them into professional artists.”
From day one, the team has been dedicated to sharing those opportunities with kids all over Asbury Park. Partnering with the local Boys and Girls Club and Asbury Music Foundation, they set up a Hip-Hop Institute, teaching classes on everything from audio engineering to dance.
Other community programming includes the Beat Bus, a studio and classroom on wheels that offers kids the chance to learn about music software and editing (kicked off last year with some help from Wyclef Jean)—and The Big Gig, a free three-day concert series, in which all of the academy’s 70-plus bands showcase their skills, while raffles and giveaways raise money for nonprofit initiatives.
“We’re all musicians first,” says Leidersdorff. “I didn’t go to college, but I was able to have a career as a professional musician. The one thing I’ve always wanted is to be able to create those opportunities for others—to fast-track them towards their goals.”