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UNK graduate turns musical passion into educational tool

Five years ago, Drum Angle was just a bunch of ideas scrawled in a tall stack of notebooks.

But the founder of the drumming tutorial website, Luke Oswald, said it’s an idea that came from 22 years of loving to drum.

“I’ve always been intrigued (with drumming) since I can remember,” said Oswald, who was raised in Lincoln and started drumming at the age of 12. “It’s something you try at a young age and you find that you’re, for whatever reason, good at … I was not good at sports, but drumming and music just resonated with me.”

His mother, Sandy Oswald, still remembers her son drumming on upside down pots and pans in their kitchen.

But he didn’t start out playing the drums. Oswald chose the trumpet in fifth grade when it came time to pick an instrument. It was the instrument his father, Jon, had played.

However, Oswald’s interest quickly turned to the drums after a family friend stored a drum set at Oswald’s house and he started experimenting. Needless to say it wasn’t long before his attention turned to the drums full time.

“It really became his passion and where he wanted to put his time,” Jon Oswald said. “Almost to the point of obsession.”

As a child, Oswald remembers being intrigued by the drummer in the church worship band. Every Sunday Oswald sat in a strategic seat to see the drummer’s every move.

It’s this childhood experience, coupled with his love of teaching, that prompted him with the idea for DrumAngle.com.

The website functions as a teaching tool that gives drummers of all skill levels the ability to learn from Oswald’s HD video tutorials — all of which are taught from nine different camera angles.

“I learn a lot more when I can see and hear what’s going on,” Oswald said. “I really wanted to create a visual experience for people to see everything they need to learn.”

Drum Angle includes in-depth drum lessons, performance videos, technology tutorials and supporting articles related to Oswald’s drumming experience.

Oswald said there are about three other websites that have similar offerings as Drum Angle, but each has its own twist.

On his site, the videos utilize the latest drum sample and acoustic drumming technology and give users access to Oswald’s exclusive content library.

“If there had been something like this around when I was younger I would have gone crazy for it,” Oswald said.

The journey to start a business

Oswald has played in bands since high school and attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he received a degree in music business. It was basically a music major with a business minor, he explained.

“We didn’t know where he’d end up,” Jon Oswald said.  “We were concerned about where he’d end up, but he loves to play … he is gifted in that way.”

While in college Oswald was the drummer for three different bands and connected with musicians whom he still plays music with. He also taught drum lessons and enjoyed using his years of playing to help other drummers.

After college, Oswald pursued music in Nashville and California and was the drummer for a few Nebraska bands. When he wasn’t drumming, Oswald worked at various tech companies in Lincoln, Omaha and Kearney. While working with technology came easy to the self-proclaimed geek, he said it was never part of his ‘plan.’

“I never would have thought I would have done something like that,” Oswald said. “But even with music I like the technical side things; that’s just how my mind works.”

His tech jobs and drumming gigs gave him a financial buffer when he decided to develop Drum Angle.

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” he admitted.

Oswald thought it would take about a year to take his idea live, but developing the content, building a studio, website and most of the other media on his own meant he needed to learn those skills before he could put them to work for his business.

“The more you learn, the more you realize what you can do,” he said. “There’s the ‘scope creep’ where the scope of what you want to do gets bigger and bigger as you learn more, and sometimes that’s hard to hold back.”

Plus, Oswald said he’s a perfectionist when it comes to music.

“Where’s the balance in making a product as good as it can be, but not being such a perfectionist that it never sees the light of day?” he asked.

The final push

After delaying his website launch dates a few times to put the final touches on Drum Angle, Oswald is planning to launch his website this fall.

In the months before the website unveiling, Oswald is releasing teasers on social media as well as video tutorials on YouTube. Additionally, Oswald will offer a free article for people who signup to receive the Drum Angle newsletter.

“I was just created with that gift, which is also why I’ve worked as hard as I have,” Oswald said.

But the launch of his website doesn’t mean his work ends. Oswald will be constantly adding more content, interacting with users and marketing his business.

He likened the process of building a business to pursuing music.

“Music is a unique art, it’s endless,” Oswald said “It doesn’t matter how much you study you always have something to learn, you never master it.”