cbuzz Episode 10: Dwight Heckelman, Groove U

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Bringing you the best stories from Columbus business owners, cbuzz is presented by the Columbus Chamber in collaboration with the Columbus Dispatch and CD1025. Our host, local comedian Dan Swartwout, talks with entrepreneurs every other week in Columbus’ first business-focused podcast.

Groove U is not your average music industry education program. Founded by industry professional Dwight Heckelman, Groove U is changing the landscape of music industry education one student at a time right here in Columbus. Following an approach that is unique for the Higher Ed level, Heckelman has created a program at Groove U that has seen great success with its job placement rates for graduates, due in large part to the Ohio native’s will to go against the grain.

“We graduated our first class last year and had 100 percent employment in the field with them,” Heckelman said.

Groove U’s students have greatly benefited from the level of involvement that they have in the Columbus community.

“A big part of what we do is putting our students out in the Columbus community every month doing different events,” Heckelman said. “They’re always out there so that hopefully gives us a little bit of credibility.”

A two-year program that largely differs from most four-year music programs at larger institutions, Groove U is all music, all the time. Offering five majors for students ranging from production to independent, Groove U gives its students a tremendous ability to get in the music business and make valuable connections while still in school.

“Unlike a lot of industries that are formally credentialed, the music industry isn’t one,” Heckelman said. “The music industry is interesting in that, while it’s hard to kind of get in, once you’re in, you develop a very unique skill set, you’re kind of always employable.”

Starting the program in 2010, Heckelman consulted with industry professionals to create a unique curriculum for Groove U.

“When we started the program, you know I wanted to shake off my own conceptions or misconceptions about Higher Ed,” Heckelman said. “The way we did that was before we built curriculum and opened the doors or even had a building, I put together an advisory panel of industry people and we asked them one simple question and that was ‘if it’s 2013 or 2014 and we are graduating a class, why would you hire them?’

“They told us what they wanted and the sort of people they would work with and from that we built the curriculum.”

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Coming to the creation of Groove U after spending a year at the legendary Berklee College of Music in Boston, Heckelman made a career move that not many in the industry would have the courage to make.

“People told me ‘You’re nuts, people work their whole lives to get to Berklee, why are you doing this?’” Heckelman said of his decision to leave Berklee and create his own program.

Coming to Columbus to start Groove U, Heckelman has been impressed with the level of activity and interaction that exists within the community, and especially on the music scene.

“Columbus is so cool, it’s young and it’s highly collaborative as a city,” Heckelman said. “I can’t ever say for the most part that I feel alone in this. That’s the great part about Columbus; the support network here is great.”

Groove U has become a staple in Columbus’ music industry, and we are very fortunate to have them right here in the heart of it all.




Published on:
November 4, 2015

Dan Swartout, Host; Dwight Heckelman, Groove U

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