About Thrive Music Academy

Bringing a passion for music and young people to our community

Meet The Team!

Lisa Harper

Lisa Harper

I am so excited to bring a new music school to the Hanover area! As a native of Hanover County and a graduate of Atlee High School, I have deep roots in this community. Having been in choir and taken piano lessons since a young child, I knew music was the career path for me. I spent the last 14 years teaching music and the last 13 years as the choral director at Chickahominy Middle School. When I decided to open a local music school, I couldn’t help but remember the days of taking piano lessons as a kid. I always dreaded practicing music that I didn’t care for, and I was only motivated to play the music I liked. As a parent myself, I don’t want my own children or my students to have this experience. I want to see my children and students reach their full potential, and I know music makes this possible because of the many years of seeing it happen with my own eyes. At Thrive Music Academy we help our students grow and cultivate a passion for music. We give them the tools to reach their full potential by learning and playing music they love!

Aaron Zarrow

Aaron Zarrow

Aaron is a big fan of cultivating strong fundamentals  – technique, reading, time, feel, and so forth. He has been playing the drums for over 20 years, and earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of the Arts in Jazz Performance. Whether Jazz, Rock, Pop, RnB, Reggae, or Metal, it’s always fun dissecting the building blocks of what makes these styles sound the way they do. He has toured around the country playing Southern Rock and Funk, performed at weddings and private events, and has been teaching for nearly five years. Aaron is passionate about the drums and enjoys passing that energy along to his students.

Alyssa Downing

Alyssa Downing

Alyssa graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Vocal Music Education. While at JMU, she was the music director of her acapella group and directed one of JMU’s studio musicals. After graduating, she taught middle school choir in the Manassas area. Born and raised in Richmond, she participated in dance and theater at an early age, which was the beginning of her love of performing. She began playing classical guitar at age 11, and also participated in school choirs and musicals throughout her education. She has had a passion for music her entire life, and enjoys playing and singing a variety of different styles of music including jazz, pop, indie, and classical. Alyssa is excited to offer voice and guitar lessons at Thrive Music Academy.

Chris Chorney Cello

Chris Chorney

Chris is a cello player and multi-instrumentalist who has played on numerous Grammy-Award Winning tracks with such artists as Kanye West and Jay-Z. He plays the cello solo at the start of the song All Of The Lights, which has garnered over 250 million views on YouTube. He is the owner of Analog Rock Machine Studio in Honolulu, Hawaii which has produced numerous albums for a diverse array of local musicians. He currently resides in Richmond Virginia and is excited to share his unique perspective on music and cello playing with the students of Thrive Music Academy!  

Doug Ritcher

Doug Ritcher

Doug is a pianist from Harrisonburg, VA. After studying music education at James Madison University, Doug has spent time in Richmond teaching and playing music. Two of his specific passions in music are composition and improvisation. This has led to his collaboration with artists creating classical, jazz, country, rock, and hip-hop music. Doug strives to bring this creative collaboration into his classes. He is excited to continue teaching in a city that offers such a great diversity of musical experiences. 

JoAnne Whitlow

Forrest Burtnette

Forrest grew up in Hampton Roads but has lived in Central Virginia for over 20 years. He majored in music at JMU in the 1990s and has toured extensively with bands such as Wisher, Sun Domingo, Bicycle and locally as a bass player in South River Strings. He is a professional songwriter who has been signed to Famous Music Publishing and Capricorn Records. Forrest now runs his own small publishing company called Hookhunters, with his co-owner Marcus Behrens. Forrest is separated with two children, loves reading, biking, foreign languages/traveling, and his chocolate lab named Cassidy.

JoAnne Whitlow

JoAnne Whitlow

JoAnne is a native of Virginia Beach and started playing the violin at the age of 6 through the Suzuki Violin method. She attended the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, VA and moved to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University where she earned a Master of Music degree in Music Education. She has been teaching music for over 20 years in a variety of different roles. JoAnne was a private strings teacher at Swift Creek Academy for the Performing Arts in Brandermill, orchestra director at Oak Knoll Middle School and Hanover High School, and she taught group and private strings as well as a group piano using the Music for Young Children method at the former Talent Developing Studio. She has spent the past 6 years as a stay at home parent and music teacher for her three daughters and is eager to share her skills and talents with the students at Thrive!

Rachel King

Rachel King

Rachel is a violinist and violist. She began playing musical instruments at the age of 10 and has since been involved in multiple orchestras and received several awards and recognitions for her achievements. She has assisted in teaching and tutoring beginning orchestra students, and has led high school-level students in small groups and rehearsals.

Music Lessons We Offer

learn more by selecting an option below

Group Lessons

Private Lessons

Preschool classes

Rock band ages 4-7

Rock band ages 7-11