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VOL. 127 | NO. 6 | Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jeremy Park

Visible is Music To Memphis’ Ears

By Jeremy Park

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Last week we highlighted Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis, which is providing a “home away from home” for families that are in Memphis while their child is receiving treatment for cancer or another catastrophic illness at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

This week let us spotlight an educational institution that is working to train and equip artists, technicians and business professionals in skill and character for effective service in the music industry and the church: Visible Music College.

Having worked in the music business out in Los Angeles, I can speak from experience that there is a large gap between having a dream, having the skill set and having the business acumen to succeed.

One of the toughest learning curves for most musicians (or really any creative professional) is embracing the fact that the music business is indeed a “business.” When it comes to formal training, the gap seems to widen because most schools tend to focus on theory and skills with little recognition of enterprise and entrepreneurialism. With such a rich legacy in the music industry, it is only fitting that a college breaking the mold would be based here in Memphis.

Visible Music College was founded in 2000 by Ken Steorts, who is a classical guitarist and one of the original members of the Christian rock band Skillet. While receiving his college education and traveling on the road with his band, he noticed the gap and decided to act. What he has built over the last 12 years is truly impressive.

Visible Music College ties in the three major categories of music production, music business, and modern music, which encompasses worship leadership, songwriting, vocal, guitar, bass, keyboard and percussion.

The school offers a three-year accredited bachelor’s degree program for 120 students per year. Approximately 450 students have been served thus far, but an even greater metric is that 88 percent of the students are from outside Memphis and 55 percent remain in Memphis after graduation. So, in its own way, Visible Music College is becoming a wonderful asset for Memphis to recruit and retain some of the best and brightest musical talent from around the world.

In keeping with the theme of this column, I appreciate that Visible encourages students to become engaged in Memphis. You will find them around town performing in churches and various venues, as well as pitching in with more than 4,000 hours of community service.

There are many ways we can help their efforts, as well. Take a tour of their beautiful new facility at 200 Madison Ave. or catch one of their concerts. Hire students for local performances and corporate events. Purchase their Christmas CD, which is definitely a great gift idea for the future. Learn more by visiting www.visible.edu or contacting Ken Steorts at ken@visible.edu for more information and suggestions.

Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com.

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