Woodbury’s Aspire Music Academy started taking shape in July 2016, when owner Lori Sager was directing a series of musicals with local students. The cast had so much fun with the production that Sager knew there was potential for doing more.
Aspire “started out with all youth group performers…in a show choir format. Our first term was in fall of 2016,” Sager says. Since then, its popularity has boomed, making it clear that the academy fills an important niche for Woodbury residents. In the beginning, Aspire had about 50 performers and has seen significant growth since then.
“We’ve added other groups and opportunities for performers of all ages,” says Sager. “Last fall, we launched our first adult performing group called Encore, and for this most recent term, Aspire has about 150 performers registered. I’m truly humbled and excited to see how far we’ve come.”
Sager attributes part of Aspire’s success to the unique opportunities it provides. “It gives people a chance to perform together outside of their usual church or school groups…while also gaining skills that make those same performers leaders wherever they go,” she says. The goal, Sager adds, is to help performers identify their strengths and bring those skills with them as they move to different auditions or choirs.
The academy is organized into recreational groups and performance groups; the latter require auditions, while the former are open to anyone who registers.
The Sparks and Crescendos groups are both recreational and best for those in elementary school. Momentum is a girls-only recreational group best for junior high- and early high school-aged girls, while Impact is a co-ed performance group for junior high and early high school students. Adrenaline is a performance group for high school boys and girls, and Encore is the adult mixed recreational group.
In the summer, performers can find either a summer camp or an intensive camp to “hone skills, work on new material and get ready for the start of a new performing year,” says Sager. Aspire has also been busy with the creation of Summer Stock, a program Sager created for performers in grades six through 12. The Summer Stock cast performs one of Sager’s original musical medleys at the end of the season.
“My goal ... has always been to have as many people enjoy a performing experience as possible, while growing skills, making friends and having way too much fun,” Sager says. “Aspire Music Academy is that place for me and now for so many others.”
And the academy’s appeal is reaching beyond Woodbury proper. “Our high school performers come from every high school in the South Washington County school district and many neighboring districts,” Sager says. Of course, K-12 students aren’t the only focus; Aspire currently has students from age 6 to age 80.
For those who are interested in more traditional voice or instrument lessons, versus musical theater, Sager also offers voice and piano lessons from her private studio, which she’s run for almost 20 years. Miss Lori’s Studio currently hosts over 100 students of all ages and skill levels (you can learn more about Miss Lori’s Studio via the academy’s website).
Sager looks back with fondness and excitement over Aspire’s first couple of years. She plans to keep up the momentum, helping Woodbury kids and adults hone their skills and enjoy making music together.
Miss Lori’s Studio