Visible Music College

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Visible Music College
The college's new logo as of March 2011
Motto "See Yourself, See God, Be Visible"
Established 2000
Type Private
President Dr. Ken Steorts
Students approx. 120
Location Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Campus Urban
Colors Lime Green and Black
Website www.visible.edu

Visible Music College is a music college based in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, along with a teaching site in the Chicago area and a proposed site in east Dallas set to launch in August 2015. Its mission statement is to train and equip musicians, technicians, and business professionals in skill and character for effective service in the music industry and in the Church.[1] The three main arms of the college are spiritual (Visible), professional (Music), academic (College).

Visible Music College is authorized for operation as a post-secondary educational institution by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, offering four-year Bachelor's degrees in Modern Music Ministry,MMM Music Production Ministry,MPM and Music Business.MBM.

As of November 5, 2009, Visible Music College was awarded Accreditation as a Category II institution by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).[2]

Visible Music College was founded in 2000 as Visible School by Dr. Ken Steorts, founding guitarist of the Christian rock band, Skillet. The idea for the college's name, "Visible School" came from the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship. Here is an excerpt from college's academic catalog:

Did you know that “visibility” is all about being seen or discovered, that it’s about something that’s noticeable? Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes Christian believers as a “visible community”[3] infiltrating the darkness, bringing a light into the world that cannot be hidden. Wow! That is who we are called to be, lights in the darkness, both individually and corporately.[4]

History[edit]

2000-2001[edit]

Visible School was created in the spring of 2000, after Dr. Ken Steorts, founding guitarist of the Christian rock band Skillet (band), had left the band to travel to Coventry, England to view a Christian music college resembling the idea of Visible School. After visiting the Nexus Academy of Music website, he began Visible Community School of Music and Worship Arts[5] as a ministry of Grace Covenant Church, also located in Memphis, Tennessee. The 2000-2001 school year began with twenty-one students and four full-time faculty.

In August 2001, more than forty students arrived after a summer of marketing the school at Christian music festivals and events. The school leased fifteen units at a local apartment complex and began to seek official recognition apart from Grace Covenant Church, which later changed its name to Lifelink Church. The faculty increased to eight members to handle the larger student body.

2001-2002[edit]

During the 2001-2002 school year, the school formally separated from Grace Covenant Church, now Lifelink Church, and became an incorporated and authorized school of higher education in the state of Tennessee.[6] In August 2002, the school grew to sixty-nine first and second year students, and partnered with Crichton College for accredited coursework through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The school also formalized relations with Days Inn, Lakeland, Tennessee for dormitory housing, creating a campus for the institution. The faculty increased to twelve and programs increased to match student and faculty growth.

2003-2004[edit]

In the fall of 2003, Visible School increased again to seventy-nine first and second-year students, twenty faculty members, and added a School Board. Working towards institutional accreditation through TRACS, Visible School is nearing all of its original intended goals of one hundred new students per year, and programs in the arts to minister worldwide.

In the spring of 2003, faculty and staff decided to gain independent accreditation from Crichton College through TRACS. Throughout the summer of 2003, investigation into several arts accrediting bodies and various Christian accrediting bodies was completed. The decision to pursue TRACS recognition was made, and the school moved forward.

Contact with TRACS administration in early Fall 2003 culminated with Visible School being accepted as an applicant for accreditation status with TRACS. Visible School’s objective of offering competent, personal, and professional courses of study for undergraduate students was one step closer to reality.

During Applicant status for accreditation with TRACS, Visible School began the Self-Study documents,[7] completing mid-2004 and hosting a visiting TRACS Evaluation Team in the early Fall of 2004. This Team gave a report with 27 recommendations and 32 suggestions for improvement to Visible School, as the institution sought accreditation. As the President and Director of Academic Development stood in front of the Accreditation Commission with two months of prepared response to the recommendations and suggestions, the College received report from the TRACS Commission that the status of the College’s attempt to receive accreditation was “deferred” until April 2005. The staff and leadership of the college worked over the next six months to correct and amend the items that were in the Recommendations and Suggestions and received Candidate Status in the Fall of 2004.

2005-2006[edit]

In the summer of 2005, Visible School ended its relationship with Crichton College. Visible School, now able to receive United States Department of Education (DOE) Authorization for Title IV aid, stood alone as a college for which students could get loans and aid directly. However, the Department of Education denied Visible School the ability to obtain aid for its students due to low ratio scores financially. Expected enrollment of 100 became 65, with the course load of 35 students paying in cash and unsecured loans. Financially the budget shrank, and many of the faculty took part-time hours and pay cuts to balance.

In the winter of 2005-2006, a single donor stepped up to cover the costs of running the school for the remainder of the 2005-2006 academic year. Visible School was able to hire a full-time Librarian and continue offering full course loads to students as a result of the TRACS accreditation process. The faculty continued to receive training. Many assessment processes began, as the College matured in planning, executing, and assessing the results of student education.

The summer of 2006 saw an increase in enrollment and positive audited financial statements, bringing 65 full-time students, and with tight financial restraint and budgeting, a successful enough year to receive DOE authorization for the spring term. This in turn, granted financial aid to all students in any economic situation.

2007-2010[edit]

In the spring of 2007, the student body number rose and the school focused on International Programs and Recording Projects, such as Visible Media Group; an artist development facet of Visible School, and VMI;[8] a national and international week-long music training program. The Executive Council expanded to include all the Directors, including the new Director of Institutional Development. The College improved, with consolidated offices, technological updates, and reduced faculty workload. The focus of TRACS requirements link, coupled with the ongoing assessment and response with TRACS that had begun years before combined to give Visible School 70 new students.

In February 2008, the student population rose again. With more fundraising and spending, the financial success of the school is beginning to materialize. A healthy student body and faculty relationship is the hallmark of Visible School, and that connection has returned and grown through the initiatives of the school over the 2007-2008 school year. Expecting 80 full-time students in a reduced number of courses and major programs, Visible School has had the most successful year of its history in 2008-2009, culminating in a decision by second Self-Study, a TRACS Self-Study Team visit, and a TRACS Commission decision to grant Accredited Status to the College in 2009.

2011-2012[edit]

The New urban campus in Downtown Memphis

*Visible Music College moved in 2011 after receiving a 3 million-dollar matching grant to move the campus into Downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Moving into the downtown area of Memphis now acts as a home base for students to become more visible to the Memphis community. The new urban campus is located in the renovated C&I Bank Building on 200 Madison Avenue, in Downtown Memphis.

  • On April 7, 2011 Visible School announced its official name change to Visible Music College.[9] “The decision to rebrand after 10 years wasn’t an easy one, but we are all excited with the new direction and feel that Visible Music College offers a straightforward name and a clearer picture of who we are,’” said founder and president Ken Steorts.
  • In 2011, the college launched Madison Line Records,[10] signing six artists into 2012 and creating numerous music projects annually since.
  • According to a 2012 interview with Christian magazine "Greenville In One Accord," President Ken Steorts stated his desire for the future of the college as, "A series of small campuses around the world bringing worship leadership, music training, and equipping young people on every continent in groups of less than 140 students and 20-30 staff in each location serving."
  • Former director of the Stax Music Academy Dr. Ashley K. Davis joined the college's music staff.
  • Percussion instructor Simon Alexander joined the music staff from the UK.
  • Student Sarah Simmons was a finalist on NBC’s show “The Voice
  • The Visible Community Atrium was renovated and opened as student space and public event space.

2013-2014[edit]

Artist's rendition of the new Campus in Lansing, Illinois

*Work began on the first US satellite campus in Lansing, Illinois and opened in August 2014 as a Teaching Site, bringing more talent, notoriety, and funding to the Memphis main campus.

  • Memphis Gospel Alliance held a Songwriting Symposium with multi-stellar awarded guest speaker Martha Munizzi on May 18, 2013
  • Downtown Memphis Commission awarded Ken Steorts with the 2013 Vision Award for moving the college downtown.
  • In 2013, Madison Line Records launches partnership with Sycamore Pictures to offer students opportunities for songwriting for films.
  • In December 2013, held Christmas Rock n Roll show was held at the Canon Center for Performing Arts due to a significant increase of supporting patrons attending the show.
  • Karina Mia auditioned live on national television on NBC's show The Voice
  • Renovations were completed on the basement level, now functioning as a Music Industry Underground. This level houses the Music Production and Music Business Departments, while also hosting the college's record label, Madison Line Records. Back in the 1970's the old bank vault contained the original tapes of Stax Records.
  • Dr. Jason McKinney, front man of the Jason Lee McKinney Band became adjunct Music Business professor in 2013 and was named Chair of the Music Business Department in 2014.
  • Dr. Corey Latta was added to the staff in the capacity of VP of Academics as he released his second book, "When the Eternal Can Be Met", nationally.

The future[edit]

With the new urban campus in Memphis well underway and the Chicago campus up and running for the 2014-2015 academic year, Visible Music College is continuing to expand and grow. Future plans of beginning a teaching site in Dallas, Texas is anticipated for the Fall 2015 term.

Notable alumni[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]