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Lexington School of Music: Changing Music Education One Musical Ladder Step at a Time

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We first worked with Lexington School of Music last summer to share with you all they offer from a mom’s point of view. So when they contacted us again about the Musical Ladder System®, I was more than happy to help share their cool story and awesome system! Spoiler alert: As a mom, I think the system is brilliant! As a business owner, I love Marty’s story and how he’s run with his idea!

Click here for our review of Lexington School of Music from 2015.
Lexington School of Music: A Mom’s Logistical Dream! An Unconventional Review

 

Photo Credit: Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

Photo Credit: Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

You’ve seen Shark Tank, right? Mark Cuban, Dallas Maverick’s owner and legendary business investor, along with other judges, listen to an entrepreneur’s pitch and offer their opinions, advice, guidance. Some of the more, shall we say, brusque responses from Cuban are YouTube gold. But the man’s crazy smart and busy, so he’s allowed to be abrupt while dispensing his nuggets of golden insight.

Imagine being a business owner and having that small window of opportunity open for you? Lexington School of Music and Columbia Arts Academy owner, Marty Fort, had just that opportunity and jumped on it! After hearing Cuban speak at the Inc. Magazine, Grow Co conference in Nashville, TN, Marty was one of many attendees who were able to take a picture with Cuban in the lobby. This was Marty’s window, and he (smartly) used his genuine appreciation for the cable channel AXS, which Cuban owns, and the tribute band show on AXS to crack that window open.

 

Marty Fort, owner of Lexington School of Music and Columbia Arts Academy, by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

Marty Fort, owner of Lexington School of Music and Columbia Arts Academy, by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

Marty tells the story best:

I was nervous to approach Cuban as he can be harsh, but I knew this was my one shot. He was taking photos with conference attendees in the lobby, and I went up to him, and at first he was stand offish. But once I mentioned AXS and the tribute band show, he was totally cool. We talked about the show, Gene Simmons (who he tells me is a big fan of it) and knowing my time was limited, I showed him a screenshot of the Musical Ladder System® that I use in my schools.

It’s a student achievement systems that uses really cool colored wristbands and ‘levels’ (with unique names that I created) for the students when they pass a test in their lessons. They also get a certificate and at certain levels a trophy.

When Cuban saw it, his eyes lit up, and he seemed to be really excited about it saying that he thought it was a great idea and then gave me a Shark Tank moment of my own.

He said that I needed to patent it and license it to others. I was blown away that he would take his time to dispense his advice. Now keep in mind, I had only designed this for my own school’s use. But that ‘lightbulb’ came on when he, in short order, (just like the show) was able to take the concept from just one school to the masses.”

And that’s just what Marty has done!

Musical Ladder System created by Lexington School of Music owner Marty Fort

Musical Ladder System created by Lexington School of Music owner Marty Fort

So WHAT exactly is the Musical Ladder System®?

Just like Marty said, it’s a system that uses really cool colored wristbands, certificates and, depending on the level, trophies to reward student for meeting a goal and passing a test.

You’ve probably seen pictures on Facebook of your friends’ and neighbors’ kids receiving their new awards for levels like “Apprentice”, “Rockstar”, “Maestro” and many more. It’s a fun way they add even more recognition to the kids’ hard work and is a great way for families to share with their “people”.

But HOW do they earn the wristbands and certificates?

THIS is one of my favorite parts about the Musical Ladder System®! It is completely individualized to YOUR student by their teacher. Not every kid is going to be in exactly the same place after x amount of days or months or years of lessons. It doesn’t necessarily mean one is working harder than another. Kids are different. They have different strengths and different weaknesses. Marty created a system that not only recognizes this but embraces these differences. The Musical Ladder System® is set up for the teacher to be in charge, not the system itself.

All we are doing is amplifying the teacher and student’s great work.” -Marty Fort

Display of Musical Ladder System trophies and awards in Lexington School of Music lobby

Display of Musical Ladder System trophies and awards in Lexington School of Music lobby

WHEN do they pass a level and move up?

While the plan is to work on a 90 day schedule, there are no specific “test days”. There are students taking tests on any given day. Again, this is where the teacher is in charge. They will pick the test day and set the goal with the student. And if life happens, you can work with the teacher to reschedule. You don’t have to wait for the next “test day” to roll around.

So how do I KNOW what’s going on and when?

And now we get to my other favorite part about the Musical Ladder System®: The communication aspect! Marty has contracted to have a custom computer program created that will include a Parent Portal. But it’s more than just logging in to check on your student’s next test date. Parents and students will be able to see their test dates, access lesson notes written by their instructor and much more! And no worries if you are like me and need more reminders, the system can even be set up to send you automatic email updates and notifications. No more wondering how lessons are REALLY going. (I love that because my kids are just as likely to give me one word or vague answers if it’s going great or if it’s going not so hot.) The Parent Portal helps you easily take the music lesson experience to a new level.

Photo Credit: Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

Photo Credit: Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

From my personal Mom perspective and in addition to the individualized approach and communication aspect, I love the accountability of the Musical Ladder System®. Accountability can sometimes be a scary word. With what Marty has created, I think it helps shift much of the accountability back to the child. Hear me out here.

As moms, we often feel like a broken record saying “You need to practice” and “Have you worked on your scales” among other things. Sadly, kids can get into a rut with wanting to practice if they feel like it’s not fun or there’s no carrot at the end of the stick. But the Musical Ladder System® is so much more than a carrot at the end of the stick. It’s a tangible goal and reward for hard work. Kids mesh well with tangible goals and natural consequences. Now the goals and consequences are way beyond what Mom has to come up with. What 3rd grader doesn’t love a cool wristband and certification and (with your permission) getting their picture taken? Shoot – I’d love that some days for “adulting”! There’s a reason martial arts schools use belts. Like Marty said, “All we are doing is amplifying the teacher and student’s great work.”

Photo Credit: Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford - Lexington SC

Photo Credit: Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford – Lexington SC

From a business perspective, I also love Marty’s story. In addition to creating an awesome system, he’s changing music education for schools and families around the world!

Musical Ladder System® is federally trademarked, has patent pending status and is currently being used by 70+ schools in US, Canada and Australia. He’s also built a complete trophy manufacturing company to service his licensees with a full line of trophies and engraving along with hiring two full time employees for the new Musical Ladder System® office in Irmo to facilitate customer service and customer orders.

And it all started by recognizing a need for music students and their families then taking a small window and busting it wide open 🙂

Photo Courtesy of Lexington School of Music

Photo Courtesy of Lexington School of Music

 

Lessons at Lexington School of Music

For more information or to schedule your child’s first music lesson, visit www.lexingtonschoolofmusic.com

Or give them a call at (803) 996-0623

Lexington School of Music is located at 226 Barr Rd in Lexington, SC.

info@lexingtonschoolofmusic.com

Click here for our review of Lexington School of Music from 2015:
Lexington School of Music: A Mom’s Logistical Dream! An Unconventional Review

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