Columbia music teacher patents teaching reward system

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Marty Fort wanted to create a system that helps motivate and reward his music students, so he created a process called the Musical Ladder Systemthat received nine patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in August.

‘This is a reward system for a private class, not a group class, not where the group sports team gets awards, like in baseball or karate,’ said Fort.

As the director of the Columbia Arts Academy, South Carolina’s largest music school, Fort saw the need for an award system for students in private lessons and created the system in 2014. The system aims to help music teachers motivate students to practice more, focus and gain positive feedback.

More than 100 schools in the U.S., Canada and Europe have adopted the Musical Ladder System, according to Fort, with more than 25,000 students using the program.

Fort said that similar to how there are different colored belts to earn in karate, the Musical Ladder is a way for students to get excited about progressing their music skills. When schools sign up to use the system, they are sent personalized prizes to give to students and the software for teachers to use.

Laura Davis’ daughter used the Musical Ladder System at Columbia Arts Academy and now her granddaughter, Rosalee, uses it to learn how to play the ukulele.

‘It gives them something to work towards, you know,’ said Davis. ‘It helps with even like their school work with having to learn the music notes and memorizing things.’

To move up the ‘ladder,’ students take a music test with their teachers and designed by their teachers every few months. If they pass the test, the students are rewarded with wristbands, trophies or certificates by their teachers. The software creates an easy place for teachers to keep track of where their students are on the ladder and gives parents a portal to monitor children’s progress as well.

‘And for me, as a teacher myself, that was a missing piece for a long time, which is why I think it resonated in Slovenia, Canada,’ Fort said.”

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