Columbus Chamber cbuzz: Dwight Heckelman of Groove U

While the post-high school education process it supposed to go something like go to school, earn a degree, get a job using said degree, it’s not always the case. Unless you go to Groove U. Then that best-case scenario is real-life.

The two-year music industry career school at 1300 Forsythe Ave. in Victorian Village is taking a hands-on approach to higher education and seeing some major results.

“We graduated our first class last year,” says Groove U Founder Dwight Heckelman. “We had a 100 percent employment in-field with them.”

With five areas of study including audio production, live sound, video, interactive and build-your-own, Groove U is building its credibility as school and as a startup.

Credibility in the music industry is something Heckelman himself doesn’t lack. He has always carried an interest in the commercial side of music. But, when he told his high school music teacher he wanted to pursue the industry, he was presented with three options – get good at technique and join the orchestra, get good at theory and compose for the orchestra, or teach.

“I thought, I don’t want to do any of that,” Heckelman says.

So he did what anyone interested in the industry would do. He joined the Navy. Wait…what? After a four-year stint, Heckelman would make his way back to music, and eventually into the powerhouse that is Capital Records.

Along Heckelman’s career path he learned how the industry really worked – apprenticeship, apprenticeship, apprenticeship – and how big institution music programs weren’t necessarily preparing graduates for jobs.

Heckeleman would parlay those insights into the core of Groove U. He put together a board of industry-insiders to drive the curriculum.

“We went to the industry and asked them what we should teach,” he says.

Now, Groove U is using their hands-on programming to send ready-to-employ graduates out into the field, which are the main outlet for bolstering the school’s credibility.

Listen to Heckelman’s full podcast to hear all the ways music and entrepreneurship collide.

“Being a musician is being an entrepreneur,” he says.

The founder also discusses the fact that while they are a school they face may of the same challenges as any other startup, like marketing and funding.

Finally, Heckelman answers the question of, ‘Why Columbus?’

“Columbus is so cool,” he says. “Columbus is so highly collaborative as a city.”

Listen to the full podcast below:

The Columbus Chamber and CD102.5 have partnered to bring the first business-themed podcast to Columbus. During cbuzz, host and local comedian Dan Swartwout will speak with local business owners and entrepreneurs and allow them to tell their story and highlight their organization, while further inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit that is buzzing in the city.

Want to hear more? Visit for new podcasts every other week.

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