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Visible Music College

By: David Lyda (From: Volume 1 - Issue 2)

In 1999, Ken Steorts, the original guitarist for the Christian rock band Skillet, left the band to pursue his dream of establishing a Christian music college. Thus began Visible Music College, now located in downtown Memphis, TN. Through his involvement in the Christian music scene, Ken found that there was a great need for both musical and spiritual training.

Visible Music College focuses on equipping students to serve in various ministry positions. They are trained in their craft, strengthened in their faith, and made to be “visible” in this world as Christians. Founder and President, Ken Steorts, shared more about the college and his life in a recent interview with Greenville In One Accord.

GIOA: Finding one's calling from God is a struggle that many Christians face. How does Visible Music College help students focus on what their particular calling may be?

Ken Steorts: We give students the technical and thinking skills to prepare for their calling, whether in church or in mainstream music. We also get students right into their degree without gen(eral) ed(ucation) courses at start for more focus and success early. Then they stay focused with a college of 132 music minded people going for God and going for music excellence - collaboratively, not competitively!

GIOA: What type of jobs/roles/positions are students being prepared for upon completing a degree at the college?

Ken Steorts: Music, music production, and music business are our three majors. Musicians, teachers, and worship leaders in the first one; producers and engineers of music in churches or studios in the second one; and managers, booking agents, venue managers, or publishing for the third one.

GIOA: How varied are the skill levels of the musicians joining your school?

Ken Steorts: Pretty wide, but they have to pass two auditions and be recommended strongly. The biggest gap is in theory knowledge. Some will come from band class, some will have no theory knowledge, but they have to want to learn.

GIOA: How often do you have students with playing experience without much knowledge in musical theory or in reading music?

Ken Steorts: To some degree all of them have some lack in theory, at least formally. Maybe 50% have had no training at all in theory, and we have to pre-teach them into the program during the summer before.

GIOA: How do the teachers handle this learning curve?

Ken Steorts: We have levels and bring those behind up to a new level, and we care at an intimate level about their progress.

GIOA: What do students often find most surprising about the school?

Ken Steorts: The real sense of community and that we really mean it when we say "one on one" and "in your life" spiritually. Accountability and relationships are real at Visible.

GIOA: Reading the website's statements about faith and the college reflect the joy that is in Christ. What differences do you see between Visible Music College and other music colleges because of this?

Ken Steorts: A comprehensive integration of Christian kingdom community with academic and professional learning is paramount here, not just in word or incidentally. We mean it, and we remain hard focused on our relationship with the Lord.

GIOA: Many Christians are afraid to be visible in the world, and that can be especially true in the music industry. Musicians can often find themselves watering down their message or even compromising their beliefs to appease their audience. How does Visible Music College work with students to make them bolder for Christ?

Ken Steorts: We give them a foundation in the Word and with other believers to challenge why they believe what they do. Then we build confidence in a safe environment sprinkled with a lot of mainstream exposure to practice saying what they are called to say when they are called to say it.

GIOA: Are many students trying to just "make it big" by connecting with the school?

Ken Steorts: They don’t last long in the audition process and if they make it in here, they are miserable cuz it is about relational ministry, daily worshipful life, and service attitude.

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