New music industry program opens in Short North

You want a two-year degree that will prepare you for a career in the music industry? Then prepare to get your Groove U on.

Yes, that is horrible, but Dwight Heckelman's concept is not. The nearly-20-year music industry vet is opening the college this fall in the Short North. Based on his experience in a variety of positions within the industry -- record labels, journalism, teaching -- and adapted from a curriculum he developed, the final pieces for Groove U came together following a series of roundtables with other industry vets at which Heckelman sought out shortcomings folks were seeing in the way people were being trained to work in the music industry. He said his "lightning-bolt moment" came in 2009 at a conference at Berklee College of Music, where he worked for a year. "All these presentations talked about how the industry in changing. I had heard the same thing 10 years before when I was a student at Belmont (University in Nashville)." Heckelman is a northeast Ohio native and his teaching credentials, in addition to Berklee, include developing a music industry program at Hocking College and a current adjunct position at Otterbein University. His roundtable sessions led him to create a list of six specific concepts that a modern music industry program would include. He then spent some time researching existing programs, and, he said, discovered none met all six, and only 15 met five of six – this from among 238 programs in the country. A big key, Heckelman said, is practical experience. "In all my years in the industry, no one has ever asked to see my diploma," he said. GrooveU, Heckelman said, is not really an alternative to the classical conservatory training. Performance, composition, conducting – these are things for which GrooveU isn't designed. "This is for people who see the technical side and need to know more, for people serious about having a career on the commercial side of the industry." Find out more at

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