Originally posted in the September 4th issue of the Severna Park Voice
Severna Park Guitar Teacher Rick Jewer Propels Students To Stardom
More than 28,000 students are currently learning to play an instrument at one of 140 Music & Arts stores across the country, and one Severna Park teacher is responsible for two of the most prolific musicians who have entered the program. Rick Jewer mentored Severna Park residents turned nationally successful guitarists Billy Martin of Good Charlotte and Dru Decaro, who has performed with Miguel, John Legend and Faith Hill among others. With more than 20 years of teaching at Music & Arts in Park Plaza, the Pasadena native has carved out a rewarding and accomplished career.
Known for his guitar prowess, Jewer played drums and bass before he received his first guitar, a Gibson Les Paul, when he was in middle school. “I dove into guitar as much as I could,” Jewer acknowledged. “I’ve been in bands since high school, everything from rock to top 40 and wedding bands.”
The skilled musician has played in a duo with his wife, Regina, for 15 years. The two met when Regina tried out as a singer for one of Jewer’s bands. When he realized he could sustain an income by teaching during the day and performing at night, Jewer found a niche that allowed him to share his passion for music with others.
“When I start somebody, I have to get to know them,” he said. “It’s individual, not by the book, and no student comes in intimidated or scared. I had a 10-year-old girl start recently, and she had a star on her shirt, so I told her, ‘You’re going to be a superstar.’ If the teacher is passionate about music, the student will be passionate about it.”
Billy Martin was about 15 years old when he stumbled into Music & Arts and cultivated an obsession with playing guitar. Martin said Jewer dissected songs to explain how a melody and chords fit into a scale, or how a picking technique made a song sound cool.
“Like most kids with a guitar, I wanted to be a rock star,” Martin recalled. “I didn't want to learn theory or boring stuff; I just wanted to be able to play songs. So, in order to keep my interest, the first few lessons were mostly Rick teaching me how to play songs I liked. I remember being blown away that he could just listen to a song and within minutes be able to play it.”
Jewer quickly realized how serious Martin was and began teaching theory and technique to the youth. While other students are not as eager to learn theory, Jewer is adept at helping students develop.
“Everything you need to learn is in the songs – scales, timing and chords,” Jewer said. “I will teach my student a Taylor Swift song and when they walk out, I will chuckle and think, ‘You just learned quarter notes, eighth notes and the D scale.’”
In the late ‘90s, Jewer met a 12-year-old boy named Dru Decaro, who would spend five years at Music & Arts before moving to Los Angeles to become a Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter, singer and guitarist. “When I started going to Music & Arts, I figured out my purpose,” Decaro declared.
Decaro noted that he has had many instructors during his career, but Jewer was different. “He is in the top three most influential, and you know, I went to college for music and went to some of the best schools with some of the best teachers around. Rick is not the type of dude that is so well learned that he gets lost in the tradition of it. He knows how to relate to both the oldest jazz vocabulary and the new energetic thing all at the same time.”
Although he has mentored the two most famous guitarists from Severna Park, Jewer is quick to point out that there are a number of local talents he has had the pleasure of working with. He teaches people from all professions and ages, from police officers and doctors to business owners and kids.
“We have these success stories, not just Billy and Dru but other local kids,” he said. “Cory Howard just played lead guitar in Severna Park High School’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival. Steve Fine’s band, Asleep With the Lights On, was featured on 98 Rock’s Noise in the Basement. I taught four of the five members of Sun Club, who are now touring, and several of my students have made CDs.”
As an instructor who teaches 45 lessons a week and has mentored more than 2,000 pupils, Jewer finds happiness in the success of his students. He has made multiple visits to First Mariner Arena to watch Decaro perform and has seen just about every Good Charlotte show in the Baltimore area since the band signed. He even gave Martin piano lessons in between tours.
“I am blown away that Dru is winning Grammy awards and Billy and Good Charlotte made records that sold 5 million copies, and it all started in this little shop in Severna Park,” Jewer observed. “I’m glad I was a part of that.”
To learn more about Jewer’s band or to find information about one of his upcoming shows, visit www.rickandregina.com. For information about Jewer, visit www.musicarts.com or attend one of Music & Arts’ open mic nights, held on the last Friday of each month.