January 20, 2022

Update From Director Marty Fort!

Read the latest update from Director Marty Fort:

Hi everybody! It's Marty Fort here, director of the Columbia Arts Academy, the Lexington School of Music, and the Irmo Music Academy, with another video update.

If you're not familiar with it, we are the home and founders of the Musical Ladder system. Musical Ladder system is something I created in 2014. It's got multiple design patents, and we just got a utility patent for our software and the Musical Ladder system, and we got 129 schools around the world that use that system, over 40,000 music students use it, but it was made right here in the Midlands at Columbia Arts Academy, Lexington School of Music, and the Irmo Music Academy. I'm always trying to improve the Musical Ladder, and being a dad myself of a young child, I know how it goes. The kids love stuffed animals. What do parents want? Parents want their kids to practice more. Of course, teachers want their students to practice more. What we come up with is a new program called the Practice Buddies.

This is a flyer you'll see with all the different Practice Buddies, but basically the way it works is this is all free for you, our students. After your child passes their first apprentice test, which is a 90 day mark, they get their Practice Buddy of their choice. They come to the lobby, they can take the one they want, and the concept is they take it home, they bring it to lessons. At home, one of the tip for you parents is say, "Hey, go get your Practice Buddy. They're going to be sad if you don't play for them, go and play." But, we're really excited about this. I think it's really going to motivate the kids to practice even more and get better at learning music. Check out the Practice Buddy program, Musical Ladder system at any of our three locations.

Once again, we're so excited for the return of live music, and in February, we're going to be doing our recitals at the Koger Center for the Arts in the large orchestra room in downtown Columbia. Be sure to join us for some great live music. We got five full days. There's going to be over 1,000 performances of all ages, all instruments. Come down to check it out this February at the Koger Center for the Arts.

I want to give a shout out to our teachers, a lot of which are celebrating their anniversaries with us. Next year is going to make 19 years in business for the Columbia Arts Academy, which I started just by myself with just me and 30 students. We've now grown to become South Carolina's largest school with 1,600 students, 80 teachers, full office staff at each location, and so I want to give a shout out to all of our teachers, many that have been with us for 17 years, 15 years, 10 years. Congratulations, teachers, and here's to many, many more. Also want to give a shout out to all of our new teachers. In the past 30 days, we want to welcome the 15 new amazing teachers we brought on. As director, I love seeing new talent come in, new teachers come in. They're fresh, excited to be here, so welcome to all of our teachers that are celebrating their anniversaries with us and the ones that are brand new.

All right, so keep us in mind this spring for Girl Scout cookies. We're going to be teaming up with some of the Irmo Girl Scout chapters, and we're going to have at our facility at Irmo Music Academy Girl Scouts cookies sales. If you want to get your Girl Scout cookies, we'll have more information coming up, but keep us in mind, and get ready and get hungry to eat some Girl Scout cookies.

Don't forget about our referral program. If you refer a friend or family member to us, we'll give you your choice of one of three gift cards: $25 to Target, $25 to Amazon or $25 to the movies, whichever you prefer. We'll also do the same for the person that you referred, and both of you get entered into the big drawing that right now we're doing for an Apple iPad. Be sure to refer your family and friends, and thank you for your referrals.

We were blown away by the response to our Irmo Music Kids Day. We had over 75 people show up. It was an amazing event, and we're going to be doing it at our Lexington School, we're also going to be doing it at our Columbia School for Lexington Music Kids Day and Columbia Music Kids Day, so watch out for the dates coming up, but it's a really cool event. It's free. It's on a Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00. We have face painting, we have a balloon artist, free mini lessons, demos with the teachers, we have an instrument petting zoo. The instrument petting zoo is always a huge hit. We're giving tours and we're raffling off all kinds of great door prizes, free lessons, instruments. Come down, bring your kids to the Lexington and Columbia Music Kids Day coming up soon.

Having run the schools for almost 19 years now, but having been a teacher for 35, student safety is of paramount importance to me, so when I founded the schools and created the schools, even laid out the rooms, it was very important that we had safety in mind to keep the students safe. I've come up with a new initiative, it's nationwide, called the FamilySafetyPlan.org. You can check it out. Basically what it is, is my school and other music schools around the country pledge to do certain protocols to keep our students safe. Namely, security cameras in every room, background checks on every teacher, have an office staff present at every time there's a lesson going on. That's big one. Glass windows in every door. Check us out at FamilySafetyPlan.org and know at my three schools, we're always dedicated to keeping our students safe.

I want to give a big shout out to our teachers. Our teachers are working very hard seven days a week. They're doing a great job. They're getting the Musical Ladder test going, they're getting everybody ready for the recitals in February, so teachers and thank you for all that you do.

Want to thank our office staff that's also working very, very hard seven days a week, and I greatly appreciate all of them. Jordan, Alyssa, Amanda, Hailey, Sarah, Rebecca, and Marissa, we appreciate you so greatly. We're one of the only schools in the Midlands that has full time office staff all the time there're lessons going on. They do an amazing job, so thank you office staff.

Finally, of course we want to thank our students. I've said this many times, but I'll say it forever, really. I'm a big Kiss fan. Gene Simmons from Kiss always said without the fans, they're nothing. Without the students, I've always said, we are nothing. Thank you, students, for sticking by us, for referring your friends and helping us get to 2,000 students, all three locations. God bless you guys, and we'll see you next time at the Irmo Music Academy, the Lexington School of Music and the Columbia Arts Academy.

Musical Ladder System® Achievements!

The Columbia Arts Academy, Lexington School of Music & Irmo Music Academy are the only music schools in the Midlands that gives their students the opportunity to earn special color wristband bracelets (kids and teens love them!), trophies AND certificates for passing musical tests with the Musical Ladder System®. It was actually created by academy Director Marty Fort. It has been awarded multiple patents and is being used by schools nationwide.

Do other schools offer trophies and certificates? A few. But none of them inspire their students with smiling faces by giving them full color, really cool "Musical Ladder System®" wristbands that they can show off to their friends.

Welcome New Students!

Please Welcome the our new students who registered in January!

Is Your Teacher Sold Out?

Many teachers have sold out. If you need a schedule change or would like to be added to a waiting list for a particular teacher, day or time, please contact any of our office staff team and they can add you to the waiting list. If you are not a student yet there are still limited lessons spots available.


Spring Break | Closed

April 13, 2022 to April 19, 2022

Memorial Day | Closed

May 30, 2022

2022 Summer Recitals

June 15, 2022 to June 19, 2022

Koger Center for the Arts | Large Rehearsal Room

Summer Break | Closed

July 3rd, 2022 to July 7th, 2022

Thanksgiving Break | Closed

Nov 22nd, 2022 to Nov 27th, 2022

Winter Break | Closed

Dec 22nd, 2022 to Jan 1st, 2023

2023 Winter Recitals

Jan 18, 2023 to Jan 22, 2023

Koger Center for the Arts | Large Rehearsal Room

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