December 6, 2023

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 update.

In case you missed it, check out our interview on WIS Soda City Live talking about our summer lesson program, recent performances at Graceland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and our upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall in July 2023!

It’s time to sign up for our June 2023 Recitals! Our recitals are always invitational, and never mandatory, but we would love to see you perform! The June Recitals will be held at the Koger Center Orchestra Room in June. To make it easier for you, we have created an entire recital page with the sign-up form, dates, and other general information including parking information and maps. Visit:

Students will be able to sign up for recitals from March 1st through March 31st. After March 31st, the online signup form will close! The official recital schedule will be released in April. Please note that students need to be actively enrolled in continuous lessons for March, April, May, and June to be eligible to perform to ensure they have ample time to prepare. Please let us know if you have any questions, and we look forward to seeing everyone perform in June!

We'll be celebrating St. Practice Day during the month of March with the St. Practice Day Challenge! Fill out your St. Practice Day Bingo Card in March and turn it in during your lesson to get your St. Practice Day sticker, certificate, and wristband! Ask your teacher about St. Practice Day at your next lesson!

I want to give a shout out to our teachers, many are celebrating their anniversaries with us. Next year is going to make 20 years in business for the Columbia Arts Academy, which I started just by myself with just me and 30 students. Also want to give a shout out to all of our NEW teachers. As director, I love seeing new talent come in to teach. They're fresh and excited to be here, so welcome to all of our teachers whether they are celebrating their anniversaries with us or the ones that are brand new.

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.

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 came up with is a new program called the Practice Buddies.

This is all free for you, our students. After your child passes their first apprentice test, which is a 90 day mark, they get the Practice Buddy of their choice. The concept is they take it home and they bring it to lessons. At home, one of the tips for you parents is to 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.

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.

In case you missed it, we’re doing a new thing with Pets Incorporated in that we’re going to be sponsoring once a month medical fees for one animal. You literally can impact an animal’s life to help them get the medical attention they need and then maybe adopt them. So, be checking that out and watching our Facebook page and watching our emails. 

I’ve run the schools for almost 20 years now, but having been a teacher for 35 I will say that student safety is of paramount importance to me. 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 nationwide initiative, called the and I encourage you to check it out.

Basically, my schools and other music schools around the country pledge to do certain protocols to keep our students safe. Namely, glass windows in every room, security cameras in every room, background checks on every teacher and staff member, and we have an office staff present at every time there's a lesson going on. Check us out at and know at my three schools, we're always dedicated to keeping our students safe.

We're one of the only schools in the Midlands that has full time office staff. I want to thank our office staff that's also working very, very hard seven days a week, and I greatly appreciate all of them: Julia, Finn, Jennifer, Sarah, Ashley, Sydney, and Marissa. If you see them at the desk, and they make your day, let us know!

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 for 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.

Meet Our March Pet of the Month!

Our March Pet of the Month is a kitten named Cow! Cow likes to put in hours working the desk at the Lexington School of Music. He lives with his owners Kylea and Matty.

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 March!


2023 Summer Recital Signups

March 1st, 2023 to March 31st, 2023

Makeup Day from Closure on 12/15/22

Thursday, April 6th, 2023


Spring Break | Closed

April 6th, 2023 to April 12th, 2023

2023 Summer Recitals

June 16, 2023 to June 24, 2023

Koger Center for the Arts | Large Rehearsal Room

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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