Press Release

March 1, 2017

Cousin Simple Wins GROOVE U’s Annual High School Battle of the Bands Competition!

COLUMBUS, Ohio (March 1, 2017) - Every year students at GROOVE U host Instaband, central Ohio’s premier high school battle of the bands. The winner of the 5th annual Instaband competition is Cousin Simple, an alternative band from Columbus, Ohio with members Mitchell Whittaker, Will Hoag, Ryan Ulibarri, and Luke Hamrock. The band will be receiving a recording contract complete with a studio EP, music video, concert booking and gift card from D’Addario’s. The group will also be presented with a guitar by Director of GROOVE U’s revolutionary music industry career program, Dwight Heckelman, at Saint Charles Preparatory School.

This year, Instaband was able to raise $3,000 to donate to WCBE 90.5. Threat Level Midnight, the second place finalist, won a Harbinger sound system from Guitar Center. Inner Reflection won third place and was awarded a Magic Mountain prize package which includes three performance opportunities and all day passes. 

Over 900 people attended the overall competition including both East and West Semifinals. 350 people were in attendance at the finals at Skully’s Music Diner on February 23rd. GROOVE U students completely ran the event from lights and sound to admission and parking. Students also recruited bands and sponsors. Instaband is a vital part of GROOVE U’s hands-on training program that prepares students for careers in the real world. 

GROOVE U is grateful to all the partnerships and collaborators who helped made Instaband great. Judges include Joey Hendrickson (CSA), April Muscular (Playing to Vapors), Ryan Getz (Tuned Up), and Lucas Harris (Playing to Vapors). The judges provided feedback and guidance to high school talent. And our partnership with Skully’s which provides high school students a platform to perform their own original music at a legitimate music venue. 


“GROOVE U encourages local teens to create original music, and Instaband provides a platform for them to perform on a much larger scale,” said Dwight Heckelman, Director of GROOVE U’s revolutionary music industry career program. “Our students produce Instaband from start to finish, providing real-world, hands-on experience, just one of the many GROOVE U advantages that we deliver every day on our creative campus.”

Pictures to the 2017 Instaband Final can be found here. Currently, GROOVE U is preparing for it’s annual trip to SXSW. Learn More about enrolling at GROOVE U at our upcoming visit day, on Wednesday, March 29th.


GROOVE U is a revolutionary music industry career program located in the Short North Arts District of Columbus, Ohio. The two-year program uses a career-centered approach to learning developed by active industry professionals, and is guided by the philosophy that the music industry is creatively engaged, apprenticeship-based and relationship-driven. Classes are small and personalized and offer both broad, foundational knowledge and specialized areas of music study in: production, live, business, video and interactive. With a 4:1 lab:class ratio, students have plenty of hands-on opportunities to hone in their skills. Students can directly plug-in to both the local and global music communities through trips to music conferences, on-campus speakers and two guided internships.

The school opened its 30,000-sq. ft. creative campus in September 2012, and is currently enrolling for Fall 2017. Want to connect with us? Please contact GROOVE U if you have internship opportunities, would like to sponsor a student or want to be considered as a guest speaker. To learn more, schedule a campus tour and one-on-one meeting today.