December 3, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio (December 3, 2013) — A one-of-a-kind school is making noise locally, specializing in teaching students how the music industry works, and how to start a career in the competitive field.

The two-year GROOVE U program is intense, but the goal is for students to have a job by the time they graduate.

"What we do here is basically teach them the business and the technical and all the other aspects of the music industry that will actually help them make it," said Dwight Heckelman, director of GROOVE U.

Heckelman founded the school because he found that other institutions weren't teaching what the music industry wanted. He transformed the old Columbus City Schools International Elementary School into a $1.3 million state-of-the-art facility.

"Our students learn how to build web portfolios. They learn how to market themselves. They learn how to write business plans," Heckelman said.

All students take private music lessons in addition to 25 to 30 hours of classroom time, 20 hours of lab time, and two internships.

Keisha Lige-Steele is one of five CCS students on a full scholarship at the school. She said the school helped her build relationships with people in the music industry.

"So it's not like I have to sit here for two years and wait and go knock on the music industry's door and then try to meet somebody. You are doing that in the process. It makes you well-rounded," she said.

Other students like Aaron Dill were able to find their niche before instead of after graduation.

"I am moving more towards the business route. I am actually working as an independent concert promoter right now, and I manage two bands on the side," Dill said.

Even though no one has graduated from the school yet, Heckelman said he has high hopes.

"Gold and platinum records, I should say, hanging on the walls in a few years from our graduates. You know, we think big, and we set them up for big things," he said.