December 6, 2023

Update From Director Marty Fort!

Read the latest update from Director Marty Fort:

Happy June, Academy families!

This year, we are thrilled to celebrate significant milestones at our schools. The Columbia Arts Academy commemorates its 20th anniversary, the Lexington School of Music marks its 10th anniversary, and the Irmo Music Academy celebrates its 5th anniversary! It feels like just yesterday when I returned from a brief stay in Los Angeles to be with my wife, Valerie, whom I've now been happily married to for 18 years. Back then, it was a tough decision between California and Valerie, but I chose love and embarked on a journey to share my passion for music.

I began by seeking out guitar students, and our first commercial location was a small space generously rented to me by Jay Matheson of the Jam Room, next to his recording studio. Jay gave me a valuable opportunity, providing affordable commercial space that required significant renovations. I invested around $60,000, maxing out credit cards to build walls, install HVAC, and create a welcoming environment. With only myself as the sole teacher and 30 students, we laid the foundation for what would become a thriving music school.

Today, the Columbia Arts Academy offers a diverse range of instruments, including piano, guitar, voice, bass, drums, ukulele, banjo, and more. We are proud to be the largest private music school in the state of South Carolina, consistently earning recognition as the best music school year after year in numerous publications across the Midlands.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Midlands community for their unwavering support over the past 20 years. I also extend my sincere thanks to our incredibly talented teachers, dedicated office staff, and, most importantly, our students and their parents. As a devoted KISS fan, I've always resonated with Gene Simmons' words that without the fans, there is no KISS. I’ve always said that without our students, there is no Academy, so a big thanks to everyone for making us the largest and most award-winning school in the state.

To show our appreciation, the Columbia Arts Academy will be hosting a special 20th Anniversary Celebration from Friday, August 4th to Sunday, August 6th! We invite and encourage the public to join us at any of our locations in Columbia on Rosewood Drive, in Lexington on Barr Road, or in Irmo on Lake Murray Blvd.

We have all kinds of great stuff planned for the community! There will be food trucks, face painting, an instrument petting zoo, and we’re going to be raffling off a free year of lessons! We’re just throwing a big party to express our gratitude and celebrate an incredible 20 years, and we sincerely hope to see all of you there. Here's to 20 more years of musical excellence!

In addition to our anniversary celebration, I am thrilled to share that this July, a number of our talented students will be representing the Academy at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall! This marks the first time our Academy has performed at such a prestigious venue, and we are bursting with excitement for this exceptional opportunity. The response we received from our students during the auditions was overwhelming, and we look forward to organizing more performing events in the future.

Admittedly, I'm a little nervous to perform at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Being from Columbia, starting out playing in Five Points at the age of 15 at Rockafellas, and now being on that stage in New York City, it's pretty surreal. But I'm thankful for the experience, the staff, teachers, students, and parents for all being a part. It's a key part and the perfect way to help our 20th Anniversary for Columbia Arts Academy.

I'm very excited about the program. We've got performers from age 7 to 65 performing piano, violin, voice, guitar, drums, and it's a real eclectic mix. We're performing everything from Chopin to KISS, and that says it all. We've had some great adventures going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Guest House at Graceland, the Koger Center for the Arts, but Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall - that's another level.

I'm also happy for our students to help them build their resumes and career experience. Not only will this give them a real-world education on how to perform at one of the top halls in the world, it will also help them with college applications, job applications, and all kinds of great benefits for Columbia Arts Academy students.

To our students, families, and teachers, thank you once again for an extraordinary 20, 10, and 5 years of making beautiful music together. We are truly excited about the future and the incredible musical experiences that lie ahead!

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 June!


Summer Break | Closed

July 3rd, 2023 to July 6th, 2023

Labor Day | Closed

September 4th, 2023

Thanksgiving Break | Closed

November 21st, 2023 to November 26th, 2023

Winter Break | Closed

Dec 22nd, 2023 to Dec 31st, 2023

It's easy to take the first step.

Ready to start? You have nothing to lose.

Sign up is easy and parent-friendly, with helpful staff at the front desk seven days a week to serve you. Because we only offer lessons on a month-to-month basis, there are no large upfront payments, no complicated contracts, no annual material or performance fees, and no semester minimums.

Lessons are first come, first serve, so contact us today to arrange your first lesson!

$34.50 / 30 minutes

Lessons are available seven days a week, and scheduled once a week. A one-time registration fee is $25 (due only at time of registration).

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