Q&A #25: Justin Schroder

Justin shares his journey as a guitarist, a reason why unprepared drummers make him crazy, and his affection for his family.

 

 

Leigh Lim: Hi Justin, thanks for taking the time to do a Q&A! How would you describe your target audience?

Justin Schroder: I like this idea and you have chosen a great name for your blog. It’s important that we have real discussion regarding how players become good musicians.

I would say my audience is elusive. I have no idea who they are, what they want, nor what use I am to them. That reads poorly, but I just don’t know anything about my audience because there is so little commentary or conversation.

 

 

LL: Can you give me a quick summary in terms of how you got to where you are with your playing?

JS: How did I get to where I am as a player? Well, twenty years’ effort, frankly. If I may digress for a moment, there is a saying in the auto racing community, “There’s no replacement for displacement”. ‘Displacement’ is the size of an engine and all engines can be made to create more power than its original output, but bigger engines always have more potential for power. I use this example because no matter how many shortcuts, lessons, tips, tricks, etc. a person uses, one can only be as good as their CUMULATIVE PRACTICE TIME allows.

 

So, on to the specifics: I started playing songs. I didn’t learn exercises, scales, chords, etc; I learned songs. I still love learning songs. I also create songs. Sometimes I create songs from a musical concept, (e.g. scale, mode, chord type, etc.), other times I create songs by manipulating bits of other songs that I like to play/hear. I teach people a finger exercise to gain finger independence because I struggled with that as a beginner and it puts everyone a few steps ahead of me as I was at the beginner level. Same idea when I teach chords, chord groups, and barre chords; it’s just a way to bring people to a playing level in fewer years than I took to reach the same skill levels. Students that play for hours/day like I did are ALWAYS better than I within the same number of weeks, months, and years in my early days of playing. ALWAYS, but time spent playing is #1.

 

 

 

LL: You mentioned you create songs from a musical concept (e.g. scale, mode, chord type, etc.). Can you give two examples?

 

JS: Here is the link to the video of me discussing and playing Parking Lot Birds and Cream Soda:

 

Parking Lot Birds is a song for the little birds one sees in parking lots hopping about and picking at little bits of things on the ground. PLB started with the melody and I took a year or so to decide which chords I liked best. I essentially stole the A section chords from Benny Golson’s Killer Joe and from the Bridge of various I’ve Got Rhythm tunes, I developed the B section of PLB.

 

Cream Soda is a tune that started with chords from which I created a melody. I found myself drinking a lot of IBC Cream Soda at the time, and figured it would be a great title for a Smooth Jazz sort of a tune. I like most of my tunes which start with chords a little more than those which start with a melody, but I think Parking Lot Birds is my strongest Melody First tunes.

 

LL: What would your advice be to someone who has only a limited amount of time (Maybe 1-2 hours a day) to plan their learning and practice?

 

JS: If someone has limited time (Don’t we all?), I would suggest spending 90% of it playing. Too many people, myself included, spend too much time thinking or looking for efficiency or short-cuts; the truth comes with playing.

 

 

 

LL: How about getting the next generation to practice? Isn’t it all about starting as early as possible? (NPR has an article)

JS: Getting the next generation to practice is just like the old generations; if they want to play, they will. I still  get new students who outpace students who have been with me for a while just they spend more hours with their instrument.

My favorite concept: Be aware of the difference between a guitar OWNER and a guitar PLAYER.

 

People start playing music or anything else when they start. Age is only relevant because as we age, we often become more aware of our preferences and have developed better work habits. I find adults will advance with less effort because children waste more time and effort avoiding work than would be spent DOING the work in the first place.

 

I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 18 and I was teaching by age 23. I played many hours each day because I wanted to play. If my fingers hurt from playing, I moved to listening. I kept music playing while I slept. The funny part about that is when I suggest to students with the worst sense of time to sleep with the metronome on; the idea is for their brains to develop a sense of tempo.

This is a great article. The end of it is the real meat-and-potatoes of practice; getting good results regarding improved skill, higher self-worth, and organizational skill development.

 

LL: Sounded like you wanted to share a funny reaction to students with the worst sense of timing to sleep with the metronome on.

 

JS: No, that’s all there was the example of sleeping with the metronome clicking. I’m sure there are some funny stories, but I don’t think parents have told me about them.

One thing I’ve done in sessions with students who either A. Refuse to honor the time being clicked by the metronome, or B. Are so preoccupied with what their fingers are doing that they can’t ‘hear’ the metronome, is that I will plug the metronome into an amplifier and make it so loud they have no choice but to play ‘with’ it. To be clear, this is not so much an abuse tactic as it is a method in making the metronome as loud as a drummer.

People ALWAYS play in time with a drummer. This is what makes me crazy when a drummer is less than prepared for whatever we are playing; I can’t pull them back into place

 

 

LL: If you were to put together a ‘learning plan’ or practice pack for someone who has never played before, so they could have the capacity to play at your level and skill. What would it look like?

JS: Start with thinking about where you want to be as a player by considering your favorite artists. There is usually something that someone else has done which inspires us to start playing.

Then discover where you are failing to have that ability and practice that until you are great. Remember there is no substitute for time on your instrument playing music. Just don’t forget that if you can’t play the music you want, you have some work to do and it should be in the form of an exercise using the actual music. If there is a two-measure section of a solo or rhythm part that you can’t play, then you should be playing it 5,000 times in a row as if it is an exercise, because it is and you will reach your goal directly.

 

 

 

LL: What would you advise a songwriter (who has never played guitar before) wanting to accumulate enough knowledge and skill to be able to translate musical ideas using the guitar?

JS: Learn piano. Seriously. Guitar is by and for crazy people. Piano is logically laid for the eyes and hands. If someone wants to be a songwriter, the keyboard is more intuitive so one will achieve better results in less time by using it.

 

 

LL: Is that why guitarists usually find it difficult to transition to piano? (and pianists usually have no problem…and if they do…they can easily figure out a work around?)

JS: Well, I don’t play piano, but I’ve tried a couple things on piano and I can certainly confirm that my problem with piano is trying to play one rhythm with the left hand and another with the right.

For guitarists, we need to have good timing with our left (or whichever hand is fretting), but it doesn’t exactly play rhythm. In a nutshell, the fretting hand arranges itself for the sound and the picking/plucking hand initiates the rhythmic quality of the music being played.

Eddie Van Halen is a primary exception because he played proper piano as a child before learning guitar.

 

 

LL: In one of your videos (Creative Soloing), you do a whole lesson (about an hour) — can you give a rundown of what you covered? And was it easy to get your students to agree to be videoed?

JS: The basic outline of the program is that we learn the five scale shapes, the five pentatonic shapes, the seven 7th harmony arpeggios in each of the five positions (many of which repeat), and we don’t move from the first of any shape until everyone in the class is competent to a certain level. Basically, it’s a 32-week course with so much playing that everyone’s skill jumps by leaps and bounds.

 

It’s really intense and it isn’t easy finding students who can dedicate the time to take it, but those who do grow tremendously as players/musicians and are very thankful to themselves for being dedicated to the process.

 

 

LL: What’s part of your guitar arsenal at the moment?

JS: Ah, the goods, the tools of the trade. Well, I have a Breedlove AC200/SM that I love to hate. We fight all the time. I have been playing it almost exclusively for the last several months almost with a battle mentality. I have recently started using 11 gauge strings, D’Addario EJ26. I had been using the originally intended set which were D’Addario EJ16, but I just couldn’t get what I wanted from them. It just sounded like there was a blanket over the instrument. I have played other guitars with 12s and they feel the same, so that eliminated ‘specific instrument’ from the equation.

(I have since returned to the D’Addario EJ16 strings and also using either Fender Medium or Jim Dunlop Big Stubby 1.0 picks for a brighter tone. This seems to be the best arrangement. At least until I change my mind again. Musicians: We’re a nutty lot.)

Funny enough, I will be using D’Addario EPN115 strings soon on my electrics. I have been using Ernie Ball Power Slinkys and D’Addario EXL115 for a while and just purchased a batch of the pure nickel strings to try. I think I will like them for their more mellow tone. I use a Bugera V22 that has a bright tone and I think a mellow set of strings will take some of the harshness away without making the sound dull. Just a hunch.

(Another update since first being asked, I sold the Bugera V22 because I wanted a smaller, lighter amp for greater portability. I now use a Fender Blues Junior with an Eminence Cannabis Rex replacement speaker. Yes, it’s made of Hemp, and yes, it sounds fantastic and is a solid 10+ pounds lighter. The D’Addario EPN115, Pure Nickel strings, are also here to stay. For now-ish.)

I also have a HiWatt Bulldog 10 from the 1990s. Great mellow clean tone from that and a nice RAWK sound on the distortion setting. Unfortunately, ten watts is not enough for any gig and the distortion setting is not foot-switchable. It’s very nice to carry though.

In the last couple years I have crossed the river regarding the use of pedals. I have been using a Electro-Harmonix LBP-1 in my effects loop to boost my solos when playing tunes that require some crunch for the rhythm sections. Using a booster in the effects loop allows me to make the tone remain exactly the same except louder. Plus, using a booster in the effects loop gives it a very wide range; it takes very little boost after the preamp section to make the volume increase a great deal. Putting a booster in the front end of an amp acts like a gain booster more than a volume booster.

I also have a DigiTechJamManlooper. Great for practicing, solo gigs, testing drummers’ listening skills, etc. I also use a HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion pedal. I tried a Boss Super Overdrive and really liked its tone, but it isn’t touch sensitive like the HardWire series.

(Additional updates regarding effects: I have also acquired the Digitech Trio Plus which is a fantastic evolution of the looper to include the creation of bass and drum parts which are ‘Trainable’, and also a Tech21 Hot Rod Plexi pedal which emulates a Marshall Plexi sound and is a noticeably different sound than the Hardwire SC-2 Valve Distortion. I use each for different needs because both sound great, just different. The best function of the Tech21 HRP is that it has two stages of gain which gives me the opportunity to have a dirty rhythm sound and a slight boost in saturation for solos. The Hardwire SC-2 has similar functions, but the switch isn’t foot-operable. If only…)

My first guitar was a Peavey Predator from the early 90s. One of the ‘Crafted in USA’ models. I still have it and it sounds fantastic, but it needs a refret because, well, I played it a lot and now the frets are too low.

My favorite guitar is a Korean-Made Epiphone Dot from the late 90s. I sent it to Dan Erlewine for a refret, installation of Gibson ’57 Classics, TonePros bridge and placement modification, and a retrofit Buzz Feiten nut and tuning compensation. Plays and sounds like a dream to me. I have owned many Korean-Made Dots and this one is my favorite. Plus, it is a rare Tobacco Burst which had a small run for Dots and was mostly used on Sheratons.

My most recent acquisition, which was last year (2013) I think, is an Epiphone Les Paul Plus Top, or some such. The color is Trans Amber, which my wife says looks like baby poop, but I like it. The electronics are dull like most stock Epiphones, but I’m sure it will come to life when I upgrade the pickups. I’m also considering upgrading the pots and wiring with a rewiring pack from Stewart-MacDonald. I’m hoping to get it to function like my Dot which is wired so the volume and tone pots are independent.

I think that is all I have for guitars and amps. Picks are another story. I had used Fender 351 Medium Celluloid picks for a very long time. Then, I had a trio that played uptempo Blues and Jazz tunes with a set of Surf music like Dick Dale, The Ventures, and so forth. For some of the faster tunes, I noticed I was having trouble at higher tempi, then through some experiments I discovered that the pick was not returning to its ‘playable’ position soon enough to actually strike the string as my hand passed it. So, I tried heavier picks made of different materials. What I am using now are: Big Stubby 1.0 picks for acoustic playing and Fender 351 Heavy Celluloid for electric playing. The lexan of the Big Stubbys has a brighter tone and the Celluloid has a mellower tone (remember, the Bugera is bright).

Oh, and the same fingers as always. Much of our tone comes from the fingers, but everything else affects it too.

 

 

LL: How did you end up saying yes to a Breedlove guitar?

 

JS: It was the right shape, sound, and price for what I needed in an acoustic instrument. The Concert body style works best for my playing. It makes the single notes more defined whether these notes are melody or bass.

 

LL: So this love/hate thing you have with your Breedlove AC200/SM?

JS: I think the love/hate relationship is more about acoustic vs. electric than this specific instrument. I did recently change to an 11 set of strings on the Breedlove and I am feeling much better about everything. Now I have about ten sets too many of 12 gauge strings. Need any?

 

(…and have since returned to 12-gauge strings as mentioned above. Now I have two leftover sets of D’Addario EJ26, 11-Gauge strings which need a new home.)

 

 

LL: Have you used the HiWatt Bulldog 10 in any of your videos?

JS: Yes. I made a series of videos by playing some fun Rock tunes/solos/etc. and I’m pretty sure I used the HiWatt for most of them. Here is Judas Priest’s Livin’ After Midnight on which I used the HiWatt.

I think it’s a great sounding amp, especially for a solid state amp. I primarily use tube amps. The HiWatt is just 10 watts and, while plenty loud at full volume in a small room, it just doesn’t have enough volume for playing with a drummer in a larger room. I may experiment with it one day just to hear it in an A/B arrangement with my larger amp.

 

LL: Did you have to do any set-ups or adjustments to any of your guitars (strings closer to the fretboard)?

JS: I setup my guitars once when I acquire them. Sometimes they will need a minor adjustment every couple years, but I don’t break out the feeler gauges when the humidity or temperature changes ten points. The process I use is time-consuming and more intuitive than scientific. If the job gets into nut or fret work, I hire someone else for the job.

 

LL: During a gig, do you keep some notes as a guide? (tablet, bits of paper,mental notes..)

JS: For Rock, Country, other Pop type gigs, I try to play by memory so I can move around and make a show. I play musical theatre and read the book because: A. I need to be spot-on and predictable, and B. I’m not part of the show. I have been part of the show once though. I went wireless during a dance routine in one show and crossed the stage during an improvised solo. That was cool.

For Jazz or Holiday gigs I use lots of charts or charts with improvisation ideas because nobody is paying that much attention since we are usually just ‘Mood Music’. I take the opportunity to be an ‘Artist’ during these gigs by working on my ‘Improvisational Voice’ and play some of my own creations. I can usually predict/remember my screw-ups.

It’s very important to know one’s self as an artist and player. I need to work more on the ‘Artist Me’ by doing more concerts instead of atmosphere music gigs.

 

 

LL: What is your warm-up / practice routine like?

JS: I subscribe to the Barney Kessel school of warm-ups: “Stay hot.”. I warm up on mid-tempo tunes. I use exercises for mechanical problems. It took many years for me to realize I should have balance in this regard. I usually only discover playing problems during an improvisational concept that I try on a gig and fail because I never thought to try it before.

Exercises are for building a skill that one does not have; it is not a way to become a better musician, it is a way to become better at instrumental execution. (How do I play this musical idea on my instrument?)

 

LL: Description of your playing style? (i.e. you like keeping it simple, no riff-busyness/crazy solos, go-to picking style..etc)

JS: The music dictates my playing style. To me, there is no rhythm, lead, left-hand, right-hand, etc., there is only ‘What must I be able to do to play the music?’ and ‘Can I do it?’. Sometimes I can’t ‘do it’, and that informs my next practice session..

Most recently, a couple years ago, I was rehearsing with a Hard Rock band and I couldn’t play some of the solos at the final tempo. These were a Judas Priest and some Guns ‘N’ Roses tunes; a couple others too, I’m sure. Anyway, I had to spend about six months really working on these solos to be able to play them at tempo. I essentially went from sixteenths at about 120 to sixteenths at 160bpm. I’m not talking about an exercise at 160bpm, this was the music, what I really wanted to play.

 

 

LL: What was your practice routine structured like during those six months (to be able to go from soloing at sixteenths at about 120 to sixteenths at 160bpm)

JS: I used the same process I teach: Learn the music at a slow tempo (50% or less), then move the tempo up ten points and play through. Keep raising the tempo until mistakes begin, then return to the last perfectly played tempo. Stay at that tempo for one week, then start raising the tempo again until mistakes begin and repeat the process. I did this until I could comfortably play the music at 10 bpm higher than the final tempo required. It takes a long time, but it’s worth it.

 

LL: What’s next for your playing?

JS: Taming the acoustic, becoming more of an ‘Artist’ regarding my voice in arrangements, improvisation, song choice, etc.. I will discover my weaknesses sooner by learning new music.

I’m also pursuing more concert opportunities instead of ‘Club Dates’, (Which are gigs at venues ‘needing’ atmosphere music for 3-4 hours.). I’m sure I’ll still do some weddings and other special events, but concerts are where I believe I will grow the most as an artist with message.

 

 

LL: Are you working on something specific at the moment to spice up your playing?

JS: Not really since I don’t have any upcoming gigs, but I do have a voice and guitar duo that is on hiatus (the vocalist is having a baby in June 2014) and a guitar and sax duo. The guitar/sax duo is just two weeks in the making, so we are still finding a start to our voice and choosing tunes. The real work begins when we have the music chosen and we need to find ourselves inside of it.

(A bit more updates: I’m currently have a guitar/flugelhorn duo, solo-guitar arrangements, and two possible guitar/voice opportunities, and a full band concept for which I can start booking concerts. Since first answering the above question, I have decided to pursue concerts as a primary goal and I want to have different levels of hire available to select venues. Some venues are a small, intimate setting, and some are larger and prefer a larger group for a more intense experience.)

 

LL: Pretty happy with where you are at now?

JS: HA! Never happy! However, I do consciously decide to stop ‘Improving’ so I can really internalize the recent changes to my playing. In other words, I have to make myself stop trying to be a better ‘Guitarist’ and remain in the work of becoming a better, more soul-touching ‘Musician’ with my current skill level.

Ever hear a guitarist play only scales or strumming patterns? Yes. Did it touch your soul? Probably Not. We need to work on the other bits of musicianship by ceasing the work on mechanics.

 

 

LL: Are there questions you find yourself answering multiple times?

JS: The funny thing about questions is that I don’t believe I hear any of them repeated. I know that may seem strange, but while my answer to the students’ questions may contain the same information, every question is different because each student has a different hole in their understanding.

As an example, the most common topic I discuss is improvisation. Most people know something in regard to improvising by the time I see them, but there is always something they don’t like about their playing, or something that has become stagnant to them. So, we discuss keys and how we make chords and melodies from the notes within. Then we learn more about how we can play them in a practical manner on guitar.

I guess the second most common topic is that of rhythmic concepts. Unfortunately, none of us manipulate rhythms as much as we should; music could be so much more interesting if we did.

 

LL: Are there artists that you absolutely dig, and are surprised that others haven’t heard of?

JS: No, I’m not part of any underground faction that is hip before anyone else. I’m 42. Ha!

Most of my new discoveries are from the social media posts of others, YouTube suggestions, online programs such as Tiny Desk Concerts by NPR, and other random finds.

 

 

LL: Are there songs/albums that you cannot get enough of?

JS:Man, what a list that would be and who has the time for all that listening? Joe Satriani, Led Zep, AC/DC, Barney Kessel, Kenny Burrell, Big Bands, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Stu Hamm, John Scofield, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, Chuck Berry, Merle Haggard, Jerry Reed, Roy Clark, Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Appetite for Destruction, INXS, U2, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Arlen Roth, Booker T. and the MGs, Christian McBride, James Brown, Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Vince Guaraldi, Dave Holland, and many more.

 

LL: Do you go out of your way to discover music you haven’t heard before?

JS: Sometimes I accidentally find something on YouTube or a blog that I like or some Pop star like Lorde is in the news and I YouTube them. However, I certainly don’t go out of my way. I don’t think we need to go out of our way any more. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m 40 years old, so I remember when one had to hunt for music. Especially if you lived in the woods or the hills.

 

Now it’s almost like the matter of finding music is as easy as picking a blade of grass while in a park; we’re just surrounded my sources of music.

 

 

LL: Where do you go for inspiration?

JS: YouTube and watch the masters at work.

 

LL: What’s your view about social media?

JS: Social Media is, to me, a contradiction in terms, but it is important. I think ‘Social’ is about time with or making friends and ‘Media’ is a method of distributing information. I don’t think the two are ALWAYS good together as are chocolate and peanut butter. ‘Social’ and ‘Media’ are better as a small part of two concentric circles.

I like Twitter best, but some people lump YouTube in the Social Media box and I think we know by now how I feel about YouTube. Ha!

 

 

LL:Would you be willing to share your Twitter handle? (What do you think of Twitter so far?)

JS:  Twitter.com/ JustinSchroder

I’m concerned about upcoming changes to Twitter since there have been some leadership/ownership changes, but so far, they haven’t pulled a Yahoo! and done anything ridiculous.

I like Twitter better than Facebook, primarily because I only have so many characters to create posts. This has helped me learn to communicate more effectively. I find that most of the people that don’t like Twitter are people who don’t like to work on their communication. I don’t feel good about my communication, so I like to work on it.

 

I also go through phases of posting in Haiku form, just add an additional challenge.

 

 

LL: Are there websites that you like to visit just because you like the design?

JS: Most websites have good designs now. Site design means little to me unless I’m trying to pay a bill or see my bank balance. Some companies have websites which drive me bonkers. How wrong can one be when designing a website? Well, pretty wrong sometimes.

 

LL: Name a website that you would go to when you need cheering up/inspiration?

JS: Outside. Not a website. I find my pets, children, or wife when I need good feelings.

I like bike rides, especially in the woods. My wife likes hikes, I like hiking with her, but I would never decide to go on a hike on my own. I prefer rolling friction.

 

LL: Would you be open to collaborating with other artists?

JS: Absolutely.

 

My strong skills are harmony and melody, not lyrics or singing. So, I need to have others to complete my work. Also, I’m good at developing and leading bands, and most musicians/singers are not good at the management of musical endeavors.

 

 

LL: Are you interested in technology?

JS: Nope. It’s just a means to an end and, thankfully, systems like WordPress, YouTube, SoundCloud, et al are great for technologically imbecilic people like me.

 

I think that is the greatest societal improvement given by computers and the internet; it allows otherwise incompetent people like me to be able to produce documents, audio, video, and other forms of gaining an audience without needing to hire someone or develop into a Jack-Of-All-Trades to be an artist.

 

LL: With your videos, are you looking to upload the same kind in the future?

JS: No. Frankly, I have found that very few of my videos are being discovered or watched by people whom I believe I am trying to help. So, evidently, I’m not as helpful via video as I thought.

 

 

LL: Or are you looking to do different things?

JS: Something that a lot of people will find helpful. It’s not so much of an ego-centric ‘Hey, look how many views I have!’. It’s more a matter of ‘Hey, look how many views I have by people I can help!’.


We seem to be moving toward Live online events through FaceBook Live, Concert Window, Periscope, et al, and I am upgrading my tools to take advantage of this trend. It’s interesting how our intrinsic Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is fueling the technological and social changes we are seeing.

 

Perhaps FOMO has always been the foundation of technological and industrial advancement.

 

 

LL: If you were asked to pick from the videos you have, which one would be your favourite?

JS: That’s an impossible choice, but it would be one of my youngest daughter Claire either playing violin, singing, or riding her bike for the first time. We were too poor when my oldest daughter was little to have any video of her and now that she’s a teen we just have pictures of her being beautiful.

 

 

 

LL: In what way do you enjoy helping others? (Is there a particular cause that you resonate with the most?)

JS: What I enjoy most is helping people realize how being a good musician isn’t as difficult as many other people make it out to be.

Essentially, there are a lot of people discussing music concepts in such a convoluted manner that it’s nearly impossible to understand or apply them. I really enjoy working with performing musicians who want to discover more about themselves musically. Working with a group of musicians is probably my favorite environment because we can inspire each other to do our best. It’s easier and more fun to be creative in a group setting because one idea triggers another and the creativity builds.

If I were to describe a cause which motivates me the most, that would be the success of the student. Nothing motivates me more in teaching than seeing a student surprise themselves with their playing or with a sudden moment of clarity. Most of the time the problem isn’t the student’s level of effort, but rather the music concepts being made simple, clear, and immediately applicable.

 

LL: How can we support your work?

JS: I teach at TrueFire.com via video exchange, which is probably the most efficient way to teach and learn for the intermediate to advanced player.

Players should take this link to register and learn the benefits of studying with me there. Visiting my website, JustinSchroder.com, will give people the opportunity to learn what I am doing as a teacher and performer. It’s also the best way to contact me regarding how I can help them. I am currently focused on performance and group education. I am available for concerts in solo, duo, small combo, and big band settings, as well as related workshops, clinics, and guest performer bookings.

Simply put, supporting my work is as simple as hiring me to help people and organizations reach their musical goals.

 

 

LL: Looking back through your journey, are you amazed at what you’ve accomplished so far?

JS: I’m amazed that I survived! 🙂

Frankly, I’ve noticed more of the effect I’ve had on students, other musicians, and just people generally since I retired from teaching daily. For various reasons, my current schedule and physical/mental condition are more conducive to effective thought and being present in my daily activities than ever before.

When I am looking for a video I made or a blog post to send to someone, I must say I’m a little surprised at how many videos and blog posts I have created. I’m sure they’re not all great, but I did them and they were evidently something I felt worthy of sharing.

I guess what is most valuable to me at present is the growing awareness and appreciation that I have a family, a job, and the ability to create and re-create Sound Art for my enjoyment to share with others.

 

 

* Justin Schroder is a guitarist based in Lynchburg. Witness him working on learning to communicate more effectively (in 140 characters or less!) via Twitter. You can pick his brain by watching him share playing nuggets on Youtube, through his entries, or by going through the really intense 32 week course.

 

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May 2014 – October 2016) between Justin and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee.

Leigh Lim is a musician based out of Sydney. You can find a sample of her music here. To reach out to Leigh, you can do so based on this post. (Curious to find out if she’s your kind of person? You can check out her slightly cheeky FAQ.)

Notes:

  • If there are things that you’d like to know about Justin that should be included, please do leave a note (opting for your question to be displayed publicly gives the opportunity to share your request with the WNE community as well as giving Justin the option of answering).
  • Corrections and additional information: Spot one? Please reach out here!
  • If you share a quote from your favorite Q&A on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘#WNEQA‘!
  • WNEQA is also on Facebook! 🙂 In the feed you’ll find related readings from past Q&As as well as curated posts to help artists find new ways to engage with their fans.
  • This post has been tagged so it could be considered for Long Reads.
  • To lock Leigh in to be involved creating your own Q&A/FAQ (for your home on the interwebs or your next book), contact her or fast track your request here. 🙂

Interested in reading more?

  • Following each Q&A session a separate entry (The Quote Jar: Twenty Four) is posted that would be a companion piece to Justin’s Q&A.
  • How about checking out all the other Q&As?

First time visiting the site? Highly recommended you take the time to check this out!

** For feedback and comments that you wouldn’t mind displayed publicly, you’ll have to publish it on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook then reach out to me directly to send the link, once I receive it, I’ll embed your feedback or comment!

*** If you are unable to log-in through any of your social media platforms using this device, and would not like to lose this page, you can use this:

 

🙂

 

Q&A #12: Aaron Strout

 

Aaron shares his journey as a consumer of music, the importance of Spotify in his listening experience, and how he took awhile to fall in love with The Beatles’ White Album.”

 

Leigh Lim: Hi Aaron, thanks for taking the time to do a Q&A! Looking through the different categories on your blog, I noticed that there isn’t a separate category for music. Does that mean that music is so much a part of you, it would be rare not to talk about it?

 

Aaron Strout: Leigh – Music is a passion for me. But really only as a consumer. I am an avid listener of new music (thank you Spotify!), consumer of live music and I love to share what I’m learning with others. However, I haven’t ever translated that into writing about music. I reserve that for mostly professional areas like mobile/location-based marketing/social/digital.

 

LL: How has your music tastes changed through the years?

 

AS: The first albums I ever remember listening to (this is in the mid-70’s) are the Beatles, Cream, Paul Simon and Led Zeppelin. My dad was an appreciator of good music so I came into this world listening to some great bands.

As I moved into my teen years, I moved from Van Halen, The Doors and The Kinks into early Rap (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run DMC and the like). That morphed into bands like Bon Jovi, Rush and others early days of college. Like many others, I then went through phases of dance music (Nina Cherry, Rob Bass, Digital Underground), Grateful Dead and then alternative (Cure, Smiths, Sinead O’Connor and Living Color).

Grad school was hardcore grunge — Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees (plus Nine Inch Nails). Now I really like everything save pop country.

 

Sunset at 2013 ACL Festival  Photo: Aaron Strout

Sunset at 2013 ACL Festival
Photo: Aaron Strout

 

LL: Artists that you loved from first listen, until now?

AS: Beatles, Rush, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Rage Against the Machine, Norah Jones, Pink Floyd, Doors, Billy Squier. Early Run DMC and Public Enemy. Pretty Hate Machine in particular by NIN.

 

LL: Are there certain albums (or tracks) you avoid listening to because of nostalgia?

AS: There aren’t really any but Prince’s Purple Rain was that way for a while. I’m over it.

 

LL: Do you make it a point to catch live music (as it is being played/recorded) regularly? (or do you prefer attending ticketed events — or go for archive convert providers like wolfgangsvault.com)

AS: Probably more of the first two. And to contradict a little of what I said earlier, we have a video show called Live from Stubbs. We are starting to push harder into music and actually did an interview and recorded four live songs with the band, Lord Huron.

 

 

LL: What’s are your most listened to tracks?

AS: I keep an ongoing list on Spotify at any given time. My current one is called “Run Boy Run.” Three songs on that list that are earworms for me are Gin Wigmore’s Black Sheep, Manchester Orchestra’s, Top Notch and Wolf Alice’s Moaning Lisa Smile. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Keys and White Stripes are go-to artists for me on any given occasion.

 

LL: Does having an online playlist help a lot?

AS: Yes. I live by my online playlists. I have two that I listen to regularly – one that is a go to called “House List” – this is what I run to. The other is my collection of what I am listening to. A mixture of recommendations from friends, things I’ve Shazam-ed and such. Run Boy Run

 

LL: Albums that took you awhile to fall in love with?

AS: Hmmm… The Beatle’s White Album comes to mind. It’s esoteric so it took a while to grasp. Now it’s one of my favorites.

 

LL: Have you travelled to a specific area just to catch a performance?

AS: Sort of on one — my wife and I planned a trip to Portugal to visit friends but we specifically timed it to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Lisbon. The band, Morphine, was playing. I had never seen them live. It was ironically one of their last performances before lead singer, Mark Sandman, died. The other which was in the U.S. was Rage Against the Machine. I travelled by myself to LA Coliseum to see them perform with Muse, Rise Against and Lauryn Hill. It was an epic show.

C3 marker (Austin City Limits Music Festival) Photo: Aaron Strout

C3 marker (Austin City Limits Music Festival)
Photo: Aaron Strout

 

 

 

LL: What’s your rule when purchasing new music?

AS: Because of Spotify and Pandora, I don’t actually buy much music now (I do subscribe to the premium version of Spotify). Once in a while if I want to support a particular local artist/friend OR in certain cases like Tool and AC/DC who don’t make their music available via Spotify, I will go in and buy entire albums off of iTunes.

 

LL: Are you also intentionally going for digital rather than physical copies?

AS: Yes. I really only do digital/streaming these days. It’s more because I travel so much and move around a lot when listening to music.

 

LL: Would you watch documentaries related to the music you listen to?

AS: Yes. Love the documentary called “It Might Get Loud” which is a movie about Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, The Edge of U2 and Jack White. I also have a copy of Dave Grohl’s Sound City but haven’t watched it yet.

 

LL: Do you bring music while you are out and about?

AS: Yes. I have it on my iPhone. I also have the house wired but also have a mobile Bose speaker. Music is with me wherever I go.

 

LL: Do you try to avoid listening to music via headphones or earbuds — and as much as possible in a way that you can share it with others around you?

AS: It’s a mix. Plane and office time is strictly earbuds. At home, it’s all speakers!

 

LL: Did it take awhile for you to decide which ones to put at home? (speakers, amplifiers…etc)

AS: We moved into a house that was already wired. So no, I didn’t spend much time on speakers/amplifiers. But I do have an awesome mobile Bose speaker that my friend, Jason Keath, gave to me. I also use Sonos via my home stereo. That allows my kids and me to DJ off our phones when we are at home.

 

LL: A music purchase you regret you didn’t make?

AS: I wish I bought more original physical albums like Nirvana’s Nevermind and Alice in Chain’s Dirt. Beyond that, probably not.

 

LL: What’s the best (music related) gift you’ve received?

AS: My first CD player from my parents in 1989. It changed music for me forever.

 

LL: Memorable recommendations from ‘kids, neighbors and colleagues‘?

AS: My oldest daughter turned me onto Bad Suns. She also is exploring a lot of new music so she is keeping me current. Truth be told, I ask from time to time on Facebook for new music recommendations and that’s where I get a lot of my new music.

Those three songs I mentioned above are from my Facebook requests. My friend, Kyle Flaherty, and I share musical tastes so he turns me onto new stuff from time to time like the Bands Hozier and Broken Bells. To that end, I go to Austin City Limits Music Festival every year. That is also a big driver of new music for me.

 

LL: Do you still listen to radio?

AS: I do. I listen in the car about 50% of the time. I have a pop station, alternative, classic rock and modern rock station that I usually hit up. I actually Shazam those regularly to get new music choices (not so much the classic rock station).

 

 

LL: While you were writing your book, did you listen to specific albums? (or did you have a specific playlist going to keep you writing consistently — and to keep you in the ‘zone’ as much as possible?

AS: Mostly chill music. Stuff like Massive Attack, Norah Jones and the like. I definitely can’t listen to heavier stuff when I write.

 

LL: Do you prefer smaller venues (with as little amplification as possible) than stadium type ones? (for live performances)

AS: Yes. Not so much for the “as little amplification as possible” but more for the intimacy piece. I also find that that bigger stadiums tend to be more cookie cutter and harder for the crowd to get into the show.

The Black Keys* in Austin (2012) Photo: Aaron Strout * One Aaron's 5 favorite bands!

The Black Keys* in Austin (2012)
Photo: Aaron Strout
* One Aaron’s 5 favorite bands!

 

LL: Do you have a favourite live album?

AS: First would be U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky. Second is Nirvana’s Unplugged. AIC’s Unplugged is also awesome. Regarding Youtube, there is a version of Graffiti 6’s “Stare Into the Sun” that is acoustic and AWESOME!

 

LL: Is knowing the song’s lyrics important to you?

AS: Sometimes yes. If the song is meaningful to me. But I can get into the soul of a song even without knowing the lyrics.

 

LL: Aside from music, are there certain things you ‘geek out’ about?

AS: My kids, Boston Sports, Barbecue, photography… to name a few.

Aaron's daughters (oldest and youngest) in front of the “I Love You” wall in Austin. They both LOVE music and are an inspiration to Aaron. Photo: Aaron Strout

Aaron’s daughters (oldest and youngest) in front of the “I Love You” wall in Austin. They both LOVE music and are an inspiration to Aaron.
Photo: Aaron Strout

 

LL: Do you get drawn in by various other forms of art?

AS: Definitely photography. And usually it’s the reverse, I see visions of certain things/scenes when I am listening to certain songs. For Sarah McLachlan, there is a song called “Fear” on her Fumbling Toward Ecstasy Album. Every time I hear it all I can envision is a cool second floor room at sunset with the windows open and white sheers gently billowing. Not sure why but it is a very clear visual.

 

LL: Do you go out of your way to discover new things?

AS: Yes. Food, books, places to travel to.

 

LL: Where do you go for inspiration?

AS: I rely pretty heavily on my social channels. But often, going for a long drive or a long run can help me clear my head and give me perspective.

 

LL: What makes you smile?

AS: I love all three of my children to death but my seven year old daughter says things sometimes that I just can’t help but smile. The things she says come completely out of left field sometimes. My other go to is the line from Good Will Hunting where Will asks one of the Harvard Student’s if he likes apples. The student (on the other side of a restaurant window) shrugs and says “yeah?” Will says, “I got her number (Skyler), how d’ya like them apples?!?” Not sure why but I love that line.

 

LL: What’s your view about social media?

AS: Embraced it early on (2006) and have never looked back. Surprised actually when others don’t embrace it.

 

LL: What are your favourite sites at the moment?

AS: Medium is pretty cool from a blogging perspective. Otherwise, I bounce around a lot thanks to Facebook and Twitter.

 

LL: Are there websites that you like to visit just because you like the design?

AS: Medium – very clean.

 

LL: What would you do when you need cheering up?

AS: A little Jack White or Skrillex always get me going when I’m down.

 

LL: What has been the most memorable time a band connected to you?

AS: The day that Chris Cornell tweeted me was a major highlight. I’ve always been a huge Soundgarden fan.

 

LL: What makes your soul sing?

AS: Running. Spending a night out on the town with my wife. Austin City Limits Music Festival.

 

LL: What do you find is the best way to connect with your circle?

AS: Facebook for sure.

 

 

 

* Aaron Strout is based in Austin and the Managing Director of WCG. You can find more about his book here, his entries here, and Tweets here .

 

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (October-November 2014) between Aaron and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee.

Leigh Lim is Mini-Bio Photoa musician based at Sydney. You can find a sample of her music here. To reach out to Leigh, you can do so via this form or a direct message through YouTube. (Curious to find out if she’s your kind of person? You can check out her tweets and personal entries.)

Notes:

  • If there are things that you’d like to know about Aaron that I have not covered, please do leave a note (using the second form gives me the opportunity to share your request with the WNE community and also to give Andrew the option of answering).
  • Corrections and additional information: Spot one? Let me know!
  • Q&A Suggestions (individuals or groups) and feedback (specific or general) are always welcome. 🙂
  • If you share a quote from your favorite Q&A on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘#WNEQA’!
  • This post has been tagged so it could be considered for Long Reads. 🙂

Interested in reading more?

  • Following each Q&A session I post a separate entry (The Quote Jar: Eleven) that would be a companion piece to Aaron’s Q&A.
  • How about checking out all the other Q&As?

Want to start a conversation unrelated to the Q&A? That’s okay too! Just use the first form below. 😀

 

** For feedback and comments that you wouldn’t mind displayed publicly, you can use the ‘leave a comment link’ below.

Q&A #11: Andrew Simple

“Andrew shares his journey as a musician, why his Gibson J-45 is his go-to guitar, and the effectiveness of sleep.”

 

Leigh Lim: Hi Andrew! Thanks for being open to do a Q&A! I noticed you have a couple of lyric videos up on your YouTube Channel. Do you like doing them?

Andrew Simple: Yeah, I have some friends that are great at it, so any good ones are made by them. I’ve slung a couple together on iMovie after getting some requests, but you really want to do them right. After Effects, Final Cut, etc.

 

LL: Can you give a quick summary in terms of how you got to where you are with your playing, writing, and arranging?

AS: I started by wanting to write, and immediately learning the major and minor bar chords on the guitar and then just writing a bunch of songs based on that. I always recommend learning the bar form first, to get a quick win. It sounds good and is a formation you can easily just slide up and down the neck without too much thought.   It made guitar seem easier than in really is, but it kick started my writing.

As time went on, I gradually discovered more and about the guitar on my own. As far as arranging, I have been fascinated by the symphony orchestra since a young age, and that always gave me a good sense of the various elements that need to work together to create a piece of music. Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ probably was the most influential to me when I was quite young.

 

LL: If you were to put together a ‘learning plan’ or practice pack for someone who has never played, written, or arranged music before, so they could have the capacity to play, write, and arrange music at your level and skill. What would it look like?

AS: Since I have had such a piecemeal musical path, its hard to suss it all out and recommend it to someone. After a few years in the wild, playing in bands, and learning on my own, I did go to college and studied music academically. That helped with a lot of “aha” moments, especially the music theory.

I believe in an individualized plan of education across the board, so whatever the interest is, I say follow it hard however that might look. Music school isn’t for everyone, practicing isn’t for everyone, writing isn’t for everyone, etc.

 

 

 

LL: Would you say it was discipline that got you to where you are now?

AS: This follows from the last question, and its discipline that is key.

If you follow the elements of music that you are interested in, study the greats in that field and soak it in, and then apply it. For me, it was breaking down the chord structures of Stevie Wonder, Beach Boys, Billy Joel, etc. And those artists all made really interesting arranging choices too, so learning from those artists was really important for me.

Guitar was the first “composition” instrument I used, and then I added piano when I couldn’t get all the voicings I wanted, which in turn lead me back to guitar to experiment with alternate tunings.

 

LL: Do you incorporate alternate tunings when you write?

AS: I like simply dropping the low E to a D. It allows me to get some richer inversions that I can play more easily on a piano.

 

LL: Were there times when you didn’t want to put in time to practice?

AS: I think deadlines are the only thing that really gets me to finish something when I don’t feel like it. Rehearsing, practicing, etc. If I have a gig coming up where I need to learn new songs or something, just that fact alone forces me to put in the time. Recitals were the same way in college.

 

LL: What would you advise a songwriter (who has never played guitar before) wanting to accumulate enough knowledge and skill to be able to translate musical ideas using the guitar?

AS: Besides the above, maybe try to build on any knowledge you already have. If you are wanting to learn guitar, and you already know some piano or theory, I think drawing some basic threads together would be good. Such as noting how the guitar is tuned in 4ths, or how the frets are chromatic, like going key to key on a piano.

I also recommend just learning 2 chords so you can dive in and at least get through a song, like Do Wah Diddy or something. Having a quick win like that can fuel more wins, getting more challenging each time, and hopefully learning the theory along the way.

 

LL: What’s part of your arsenal at the moment?

AS: My go-to guitar is my Gibson J-45. I like the Fishman Spectrum DI for live playing. As far as picks and strings, its Dunlop Tortex mediums and Curt Mangan light strings.

 

 

LL: Did it take awhile for you to settle on the gear that you like?

AS: Yes, it did. For instance, I settled on the Fishman DI for live playing, only after having an LR Baggs DI with a separate compressor, and since the Fishman was both a DI and a compressor, it helped lighten the load. You just make those tweaks all along the way. Settling on the guitar was the most significant thing. Once you play a guitar that really is inspiring to play, you just have to find a way to make it yours.

 

LL: With your Gibson J-45, do you think that what attracted you (and made you think: “I must make that mine!”) was the sound and feel?

AS: J-45’s are just a really nice, loud, balanced brand of guitar. They are famous for it. So when you pick one up for the first time, you go “oh, I see the light!”. But really, their strength, to me, is in their fullness in terms of EQ curve.

 

LL: Has any of your equipment undergone customisation?

AS: Just in swapping out bridges, and stuff like that, with my guitar guy in Nashville. Nothing major. I have some nice bone bridges on my guitars and ukes.

 

LL: During a gig, do you keep some notes as a guide?

AS: I’ve written so many songs, I’ve had to use the tablet as a cheat sheet, I admit. Mental notes can fail you, haha!

 

LL: Were you just “fondly” recalling some gigs when you didn’t have some notes handy?

AS: If you play enough shows, eventually you will have times where you forget lyrics and get lost, etc. So at some point, it’s just nice to have a home base to look at so that you start verse 2 correctly coming out of a chorus for example. Also, once you right enough songs, its just harder and harder to keep them straight.

 

LL: What is your warm-up / practice routine like?

AS: I don’t think about it too much – I just start playing what I like in the green room or wherever – jamming, etc. You’ll get warm whether you want to or not. That way its not too structured and potentially stressful.

 

LL: Description of your playing style?

AS: I’m a singer-songwriter, so I rely on fairly basic picking strumming and I used finger-style on a few tunes, flesh, not nail. I am really choosy if I play any solo stuff – I leave the tearing it up stuff to my band.

 

LL: How about your voice? Did you have to put a lot of hours to get it to where it is now?

AS: My voice really just naturally developed. The hours were put in, but not consciously. Early on I was all over the place pitch wise and dynamically, but [it has] really evened out over the last 3 years or so.

 

 

LL: What are some misconceptions about you as a musician?

AS: I think, just in general, musicians get the classic bad rap as slackers or something like that. In my experience, musicians are some of the smartest cats around. Just not getting taken seriously when I was starting up years ago, but that’s to be expected, I suppose.

 

LL: What’s next for your playing?

AS: Playingwise, I feel like I’m fairly happy where I am. Honestly, I am always trying to find ways to condense, even just writing songs with two strings on the guitar.

 

LL: Have you been always mindful of ergonomics when you play?

AS: I think bass is harder on the body that guitar, and maybe a padded strap is more important there. With acoustic guitar, I’ve never felt a need to use anything besides a basic strap. Just having good posture in general will spill over to playing music. Since I started on drums, posture was a huge factor in being able to play properly, so I’ve always been mindful of that.

 

LL: Guitar Maintenance and Storage?

AS: I’m bad when it comes to putting my guitars away…they tend to lay about the room so I can grab them quickly. I get bummed out when I have to open a guitar case if I am wanting to play the guitar, haha. That sounds bad, but it’s true.  

All over my house are guitar stands and guitars in several rooms of the house so there is always something to grab. I’m not one of those that cares about keeping the guitars ding-free. Though there are cases, where that is in order. Otherwise, some lemon oil with a cloth up and down the fretboard is a good thing to do regularly for cleaning/conditioning.

 

 

LL: Would you recommend buying consumables in bulk?

AS: If you can, bulk buying for small stuff like strings and picks is wise.

 

LL: Your music has been used a number of times in ads — is that something you are constantly excited about?

AS: It’s a surprising twist in my musical journey – that my songs seem to work well for various film and TV applications. I love the exposure, and it’s just fun.

 

LL: Do you have a regular schedule of posting videos? (Or it depends on when you think of something to share?)

AS: The latter

 

LL: Are there certain things you ‘geek out’ about?

AS: I geek out about bird watching and philosophy/logic. That’s pretty bad.

 

LL: Are you still a big listener of music?

AS: I really don’t listen to much music these days. I’m creating it so much, there’s just not time. Maybe a couple times a week I will throw on an old record, but its mainly to zone out.

 

LL: Do you go out of your way to discover new things

AS: I think just being in the music business, I hear all the new stuff from various sources naturally.

 

LL: Where do you go for inspiration?

AS: I think films are heavily inspiring for me. Its such a rich art form, it stimulates on nearly every level.

 

LL: What helps you focus on your uniqueness?

AS: I don’t guess I focus on uniqueness per se. I just hope I naturally am “me”.

 

 

LL: What’s your view about social media?

AS: I’m fairly reluctant about all of it.

 

LL: What would you do when you need cheering up?

AS: Sleep

 

LL: Would you be open to collaborating with other artists?

AS: I collaborate all the time with other artists. It’s a big part of my world.

 

LL: Are you interested in technology?

AS: I use technology out of necessity. Pro Tools is my go-to recording software on my Mac Pro.

 

LL: With your videos, are you looking to upload the same kind in the future? Or are you looking to do different things?

AS: Always open to new things

 

LL: If you were asked to pick from the videos you have, which one would be your favorite?

AS: I like some of the live acoustic ones best probably. That was a fun concert.

 

 

 

 

LL: For someone watching a video of yours for the first time, what is the message you’re hoping they’ll take with them?

AS: Sure, inspiring others to create is always great. I don’t know if there is a single message, but that’s certainly one of them. If they find something they like and that they can incorporate into their jam, all the better.

 

LL: What makes your soul sing?

AS: I think just creating music, really. Basic as that!

 

LL: What do you find is the best way to connect with your audience?

AS: I think the mailing list does a good job of it

 

 

Andrew Simple is a singer/songwriter currently based in Nashville. You can check out his videos here and learn more about him here.

 

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (October 2014) between Andrew and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee.

Leigh Lim is Mini-Bio Photoa musician based at Sydney. You can find a sample of her music here. To reach out to Leigh, you can do so via this form or a direct message through YouTube. (Curious to find out if she’s your kind of person? You can check out her tweets and personal entries.)

Notes:

  • If there are things that you’d like to know about Andrew that I have not covered, please do leave a note (using the second form gives me the opportunity to share your request with the WNE community and also to give Andrew the option of answering).
  • Corrections and additional information: Spot one? Let me know!
  • Q&A Suggestions (individuals or groups) and feedback (specific or general) are always welcome. 🙂
  • If you share a quote from your favorite Q&A on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘#WNEQA’!
  • This post has been tagged so it could be considered for Long Reads. 🙂

Interested in reading more?

  • Following each Q&A session I post a separate entry (The Quote Jar: Nine) that would be a companion piece to Andrew’s Q&A.
  • How about checking out all the other Q&As?

Want to start a conversation unrelated to the Q&A? That’s okay too! Just use the first form below. 😀

 

** For feedback and comments that you wouldn’t mind displayed publicly, you can use the ‘leave a comment link’ below.