On the show today we’re joined by Leila Viss, author of the 88PianoKeys.me blog and the book “The iPad Piano Studio”. In her own piano studio Leila specialises in helping students be more creative on keyboard and together with Bradley Sowash at 88 Creative Keys she runs workshops and provides online training to help other teachers to empower their students creatively.

As you’ll hear in this episode, Leila knows from personal experience what it’s like to not feel creative as a musician, and to learn it step-by-step in a practical way and it was fascinating to hear how she did this and how she now helps others to do the same.

In this conversation Leila shares:

  • Three pivotal experiences that opened up a route for her to become more creative
  • Why it might be okay to steal from musicians you admire – and what it means to “steal like an artist”
  • One simple exercise she uses with her students to help them start being creative on the keyboard

We find Leila really inspiring in how she approaches playing and teaching music, and we think you’re going to enjoy hearing the specific ways as well as the overall mindset that have enabled her and her students to transform from on-page sheet music readers into free and creative musicians.

Listen to the episode:

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Christopher: Welcome to the show, Leila. Thank you for joining us today.

Leila: Thank you, Christopher, for the invitation. It’s an honor.

Christopher: I know you as one of the, kind of, thought leaders in creativity on the keyboard and in particular inspiring piano teachers to teach their students in a creative way. Were you always a creative pianist yourself, or how did you turn into the teacher of teachers that you are today?

Leila: Well, that’s an interesting question because no, I was not always creative, although I think I really was back in the day. I would make up all kinds of crazy things on the piano. I was dancing all over the house. I was quite sure I was going to be on the Carol Burnett show some day. None of that really happened and what’s even more fascinating is that I listened to pop music all the time. Toto was my band and I never even paid attention to what the pianist was doing in that band. It never occurred to me.

I took piano lessons, I studied classical music, but I never connected what I was listening to on the radio to what I was doing at the piano. So going back to your question, then, I feel like I was just steeped in that classical mode and the very best musicians in my small home town always knew how to read music, they were great readers, they could sight read, they could accompany and so I was just kind of right there in the mix, didn’t really stand out but I really did love to play piano and play music and it didn’t occur to me that I really wanted to be creative until I recognized that other people were having a good time doing this and it kind of made me wonder, you know, “Why am I not doing this myself?” and basically it came down to the fact that I’d been tied to the page forever, you know, that’s how I learned. There was no other way to learn than to read from a book and, like, and then if I would try and play anything I really didn’t know what I was supposed to play so then there’s fear of sounding awful and it was also kind of embarrassing, letting other people know what I couldn’t do so those three things kind of hung with me and I call that my baggage and I’m quite sure that a lot of other people have that same baggage and I affectionately call myself a recovering classical pianist because of that and I think it really came to a head for me when I had a piano student sit at my bench and he had an amazing gift of playing anything by ear. I just remember he came from watching the Sherlock Holmes movie and pretty much played a really cool rendition of the whole entire soundtrack and it just dawned on me that – whoa – number one, I want to keep this student. Number two , how am I going to keep this student interested in what he’s doing and number three how can I make sure that he’s also reading, because he’d rather not read music but having students that stimulated that side of the brain that I wasn’t used to really helped me become a creative teacher and a creative player, myself, because I had to start keeping up with him and then there were questions along the way, “Well, how am I going to deal with this student? He’s playing in a jazz band. I don’t know what that’s all about,” and I happened to connect with Bradley Sowash at a conference.

It was some 15 years ago, probably, and we happened to sit next to each other at a happy hour and so I was asking him about the twelve-part blues and he was writing things down on a napkin. I really wish I had that because I’d put it in a frame because that established a relationship with him and he is a fine jazz pianist in his own right. He is also an educator and knows how to explain things and break things down into bite-sized pieces that a musician like me can understand and so because of that student he and I had this relationship where I would email him on occasion and say, “Okay. What do I do when…” and it just took off from there and then it also made me become aware of my desire to be creative off-page and I felt like I was missing out so I wanted to work on those skills and so I was composing and then I started taking lessons with Bradley and then I started playing jazz and I would not call myself a jazz pianist but I would say that I can dabble in it and it opens up a lot of doors so that’s pretty much my story. I think I answered most of your questions.

Christopher: Interesting. So you really were into the thick of teaching before this kind of transformation took place, by the sound of it.

Leila: Most definitely, and I have three boys who are now grown and I kind of feel bad for them because their mommy was putting them in a really tight little box of “You’ve got to play what’s written and that’s pretty much it,” and all three of them have fantastic ears and can, are very creative at the keys and my youngest, he just hears things and plays his favorite tunes, I think maybe finds sheet music to play it a little bit but, you know, they all do things so differently than what I taught them and I would have done things so differently but they survived despite me, so that’s good.

Christopher: So take us back for a moment to that transition because I’m sure a lot of listeners can relate to that baggage of how you talked about those feelings of insecurity or nervousness around their limitations as a musician and I don’t know about you but for me there was definitely a real skepticism that I would be able to learn things like improvising or playing by ear because, as you’ve touched on, some people can do it so much more easily than others. It can seem magical. Where were you coming from on that? What gave you the confidence to keep trying and keep learning and connect with people like Bradley that opened up some doors to figuring that stuff out?

Leila: I would say there’s two performers, and maybe this dates me a little bit, but there’s two performers that stick out in my mind. Number one, I remember my husband coming home and he was listening to Christmas music on the radio and he said, “I just heard this really cool arrangement of “Joy to the World” and it happened to be by Jim Brickman,” and I had never heard of Jim Brickman before so that tells you how long ago that was but also it just wasn’t in my radar to listen to someone like him, and so I got out the music and, wow, I had to count because it was tricky, you know, just the way he separated things between the hands but then I also noticed, like, “Okay, this guy’s doing a lot of the same thing over and over again. This isn’t that tricky. I think I could figure this out.”

And then another point in the right direction was I attended a Lorie Line concert. I was invited by my piano students to come to her concert and she was striking. Number one, she was all about what she was wearing. She was also very creative with her arrangements and the entire concert she was very connected to her audience and that really struck me. She wanted to make a connection with us instead of it being, you know, just way too serious and “We’ve got to stick to what we need to do and then we’re done,” she wanted to involve the audience and I was stunned by that and I really wanted to see more of what she was doing on the page so I bought a lot of her books and then I noticed too she had some formulas and I thought, “Okay, well, that’s not that hard to unlock what she’s doing. I think I could do this, too,” so that pretty much, those two were my inspiration. Just noticing that you don’t have to do a lot of new, really crazy, off-the-wall things in order to be creative and finding people that I was excited about copying or stealing from really was the hallmark for my road to feeling creative at the keys and feeling confident at the keys.

Christopher: Awesome. Now, I want to come back and dig in a lot more to your work with Bradley and what you’re doing these days but let’s pause on that for a moment, because I think what you just said is really fascinating and here on the broadcast we’ve talked a few times, I think, about the usefulness of patterns or frameworks for enabling creativity and how that can seem a bit counterintuitive to constrain yourself in order to feel freer but that really is how it works in music and, you know, what we’ve touched on there before about intimidation and nervousness, lot of that comes from just having a blank canvas and feeling like anything is possible and so nothing is possible. So I want to hear more about this idea of seeing these inspiring artists and not just being inspired but actually dissecting what they were doing and being able to take something away from it. Tell us more about that.

Leila: Okay, well, I think it made me dig in to figuring out what they’re doing. I call it getting under the hood, like, “Oh, okay. Wait a minute. She’s just using the four to the five back to the one chord. That’s not that big of a deal,” and “Oh, she just has this nice little melody floating above that. Oh, and she does it two times and that’s a nice little interlude until she comes back to the arrangement that she’s making,” and so seeing what she was doing motivated me to try that myself, but you’re absolutely right. It was small, little patterns repeated over and over again. If you think about it, you know, when we do something over and over again we finally do get bored, you know, like, “Okay. Let’s what else I could do,” and I think that is the key to creativity is getting tired of doing the same thing so you, you know, “Let’s figure out what I can do that’s a little bit different,” and then, so knowing the chords, knowing the theory behind what others are doing and then, I’ll just be blatantly honest about it, my very favorite book is called “Steal Like an Artist” and that’s what I do. I think that’s a really important thing to do because if you see what others are doing you learn from it and I’m not just saying that I memorize what they do. I look, understand the chords, the chord progression, how the melody is framed and all of that kind of stuff and then I play it, I try and memorize it and then I move it to a different key because that helps me solidify it, try and remember it in my brain and then, you know, I may not remember it exactly and then that’s when things expand and I’ve created something on my own.

Christopher: Terrific. It was really helpful to hear that example of what you were maybe noticing or listening for in a performance and I can imagine some of our listeners are thinking, “Well, that’s easy enough if you know what the four to the five to the one sounds like, or, you know, how to dissect by ear the melody from the chords.” How much do you think you needed, you know, a lot of theory knowledge and ear training to be able to pick apart what was happening there?

Leila: Well I can tell you, at first I had a lot of visual training. I can read music. I know how to read that and then I had the theory but I really wasn’t putting the two together until, you know, I was so curious, “What are they doing? Oh, okay. That’s the four, that’s the five, that’s the one,” and I really wasn’t hearing it that way. I feel like my ears have really improved but they were not that strong to begin with. I was really relying on my eyes and my theory knowledge but, you know, as I continued to grow I can now start hearing those chord progressions and recognize certain things but I think, you know, it’s not really knowing, so much. It’s more knowing what’s very common and I don’t know if you are familiar with the Axis of Awesome and their well-known video of, you know, all those songs based on those four chords. Those four chords, the 1-4-5 and 6 chords, if you know those in any key, most likely you are going to uncover what most people are doing in a piece and I’m talking about mostly pop music or today’s standards.

Christopher: Yeah, 100% and, you know, at Musical U we tell our members, like, even if what you want to get into is jazz, we tell our members, like, even if what you want to get into is jazz, you could do a lot worse than starting with the 1-5-6-4 progression because, you know, those components are going to come up even if it’s 2-5-1’s you want to be studying and you’re right, like, it’s, I think you almost don’t even need to know the names or the proper music theory for these things sometimes if you’re listening actively and you’re looking for those patterns you can start to figure out what’s going on, I think, even if, you know, that video that you referenced, for example, that’s not really made for musicians, is it, you know?

Leila: No.

Christopher: Musicians appreciate it but anyone can watch that and be, like, “Oh, yeah. All those songs sound the same. Got it. The chords are the same,” and I think you can go a long way just with active listening.

Leila: You can, and then what’s neat is because things are repeated over and over again you have this motivation, like, you know, “What can I do that’s a little different?” and I think that’s the key, is, you know, not trying to grab every color on the palette, you know. Start with the three primary colors. In fact, that’s how I teach my students about chords is the one chord is blue, the five chord is red and the four chord is yellow and so those are the three primary colors and then you get tired of just those colors and you want to mix things up a little bit. You like purple, you like teal, you like orange and if you think about music in that way, you know, you’re adding color to your own creativity but limiting yourself first is really the best way to get started.

Christopher: Tell us more about “Steal Like an Artist,” because, you know, steal is a dirty word in most circles but certainly among musicians and artists in general so how does this make sense? How is this okay for a piano teacher and someone who trains other teachers to be encouraging us to steal?

Leila: Well, first of all, I did not coin that phrase. It is the name of a book written by Austin Kleon and I highly recommend you go purchase your own, maybe purchase a couple, because I will hand this to a student and I won’t see it again and that’s okay. In my mind, I’m happy that someone has taken it and hopefully will review it over and over again but the point of the book is that everything has already been created. There’s really nothing original and when you think about it, you know, there’s nothing original about those four chords but pop artists still seem to manage to come up with some pretty original things off of those four chords and it’s because they’ve come up with something just a little bit new but I like what, this book is full of quotes, it’s a little coffee table book, you know, you can read through it in 45 minutes so it’s not that complicated and then you’re gonna wanna read it again. It’s full of little, tiny quotes and here’s one from Mark Twain: “It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.”

And then, you know, he has really good things like, “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started,” and, you know, that was empowering to me, too, you know. I’m really not a creative pianist. I’m really not a jazz artist that can go play down the road in some bar but I really would like to do it and, you know, I think that’s okay. Wherever you’re at, you can do it. You can get started and with those limitations you can feel, you know, confident that you’re going to move forward.

There is one other one that I think is quite fascinating, too: “I have stolen all of these moves from all these great players. I just try to do them proud, the guys who came before, because I learned so much from them. It’s all in the name of the game. It’s a lot bigger than me,” and that’s by Kobe Bryant and we all know that he’s done pretty well and so the point being it’s, we’re inspired by others. Take that inspiration, take what they’re doing and make it your own and we’re never going to be happy if we just steal from other people. We’re not going to feel good inside is we know that we stole it from them and it’s theirs. We want to make it ours and I think that’s the motivation to change something and make it your own.

Christopher: Very cool. So I think we have a sense of how you changed as a pianist and how you were empowered to start, you know, experimenting and mimicking and trying your own twists on things. Give us an idea of how your teaching changed. Maybe you could do, like, a, you know, what your lessons were like before that encounter with Bradley or that phase where you were unlocking this creativity and what it would be like today.

Leila: Well, before I was very hooked to a method book and, you know, I tried a number of them and it was okay. I found myself getting bored with that process and then one of the ways that I stepped out is, I called it a lesson book bash, but I decided, “Okay, let’s see how fast we can get through these lesson books and then with your favorite pieces let’s do something fun and different. Can you add your own intro? Can you add your own outro? Can you change it to minor? But do something with that piece, a favorite piece.” And so that got me, you know, out of the box, so to speak and then I decided that every student, regardless of how old they were, you know, at some point they would play the “Heart and Soul” pattern, is what I call it, the 1-6-5-4 pattern, and you know, most of them just play it the normal way that we all hear it and then I have them start being creative with it and, you know, seeing their eyes light up and having them realize that, “Wow. That’s really cool,” it gave them the fertile ground to start being creative, you know, and pretty soon they weren’t so thrilled with just those chords so then we’d move on to some other ones.

So, yeah, it just has morphed, and, like I said, having students like Jake and now I’ve got another one, Ryland, who, man, they can go crazy off the page and Ryland’s got his own YouTube channel now and he creates his own covers and comes up with new things and surprises me and I just find a new link that he’s just created on YouTube and it’s so much fun to see those students branch out and then I also have students that really aren’t that comfortable doing what, you know, Ryland or Jake are doing and I still feel like it’s my duty to get them playing beyond the page and they feel more comfortable with it but it’s probably not their favorite thing and that’s fine with me but I just feel like it’s my duty as a teacher to let them experiment and explore off the page so that suddenly when they are asked to play something it’s not alarming to them.

Christopher: So you said that you give them this particular chord progression and then you help them start being creative with it. What does that look like in practice? What kinds of things might they be doing?

Leila: Well, okay. I have a piano close by. One of the things, (plays piano) there’s the one, there’s the six, the four and the five. I call that a power chord but it’s just the root, fifth, root, and adding pedal with that right away makes it so pretty and it’s so different from (plays “Heart and Soul” choppily) right, which they all know at the beginning and that’s where I start and they play that and I tell them, “Practice this. Play this at home until your mom and dad tell you to stop because they’re so tired of it,” and then I just have them create a nice little melody above that and that may just be the first three notes, like, C, D, and E in the key of C just doing something very simple like that and then I’ll ask them, “Did you notice when we got to that G chord, that last chord, how it sounded? It didn’t quite sound as good so how about changing that up?” (Plays piano) Change the right hand when you get to the last chord and then, number one, you’ve got a nice set of four because that’s what I really try and encourage people to do is think in groups of four and then you’ve got this beautiful melody. It’s not all that complicated but just when we’re getting tired of it you change it up just a little bit and you still use just those three notes. So does that answer your question?

Christopher: Yeah. Lovely. That’s great.

Leila: Okay.

Christopher: And is this representative of the kinds of teaching you do with Bradley at 88 Creative Keys?
Leila: It’s very close. Now, to stretch it out I use C, D, and E scale degrees of one, two, three. Now if you add the four and the five you get the pentascale and that’s when things get really interesting because you’ve got five notes instead of just those three and what’s magical about those five notes is Bradley calls them safe notes. I’m going to borrow right from him and he calls them, “When in doubt, pent out,” so meaning, I can play anything (plays piano improvisation). I just played those five notes, C, D, E, G, A and they sounded good above that chord progression and they’re magical because they’re always going to sound good and so, yes, I admit I steal that from him all the time but those five notes are golden. I say it’s a nickel’s worth of notes worth their weight in gold because you’re always gonna sound good with those.

So the main thing, though, you don’t want to forget, you need to know the key you’re in. They’re not gonna sound good if you’re not in the right key.

Christopher: Gotcha.

Leila: So, yeah. That’s a fun way to explore.

Christopher: Hm. And so that pentatonic scale gives you the kind of constraint that lets you feel safe experimenting.

Leila: Exactly. Yes. A good word, constraint, and again, those limitations, they’re gonna make you feel confident, because, “Oh, wait. I don’t have to use anything else. I’m just using that,” and then you gradually, you know, open up more parameters because they get hungry for more and that’s what I do in my lessons, too. Pretty soon, you know, they get tired of the one, four, five and six chord. “Can we do, are there any other chords?” and then I say, “Well let’s explore the diatonic chords,” you know, the one-two-three-four-five-six-seven and substitute chords, all that kind of stuff, adding the (plays piano) the add-two or the sus-four, those kind of things and, oh, man, then their eyes light up all over again.

I think the careful thing, the thing I need to be careful about is not overloading them right away with ideas. It’s just when they’re hungry for something new, then add in something else.

Christopher: Cool, and where are those ideas coming from? You mentioned before you were teaching from a method book. Do you now teach from the Leila Viss method book, or the 88 Creative Keys method book, or how do you structure that?

Leila: I know. People ask me that all the time and it, I think sometime, some day I will have to codify exactly what I do. It’s a mix of so many different ideas and things. I love to collect ideas. I’ve been known as, people call me a synthesizer. I hear things and then I kind of funnel them into something that works but, yeah, I’ve had webinars with Bradley before. We do online clinics and I’ve talked about re-harmonizing melodies and so a lot of these tricks, you might want to call it, I would include in re-harmonizing a melody but there is nothing official that I’ve ever written down about exactly what I do, so maybe you have prompted me to do so.

Christopher: Yes, I will be waiting eagerly for the Leila Viss method book.

Leila: Okay.

Christopher: So one thing we haven’t touched on yet which you’re known for is actually using technology, which might strike people as odd, given you’re known for creativity and to a lot of people technology is kind of the antithesis of being creative and free. Tell us how that fits in and how technology entered the picture for you in your teaching.

Leila: Well, when I was getting my master’s degree I went around to different studios in the Denver area and two of them had a computer lab along with their piano lessons and so one student was working at the piano with the teacher while the other student was at the computer. It was still in DOS mode with the little cursor blinking back and forth but there was one program which I can’t, music something, I can not remember what it’s called, but it was, you know, a tutorial type thing that students went through and so they were learning theory and getting reinforcement at the computer while one student was with the teacher so the teacher actually had two students and you’re actually making a little bit more money because you’re charging that student who’s at the computer.

Now, fast forward, I started that in my studio from the get-go. People always came for 30 minutes with me and 30 minutes more at the computer. Then when the iPad came out that changed everything because I was paying hundreds of dollars for software programs. I was dealing with computers that were breaking down. I was dealing with floppy disks that got stuck in the computer, you know, it was all those things and then we had the CD ROMs, right, and then the iPad came out and oh, man, you just tap on this screen and there’s this beautiful app and I got so excited about that that I thought, “I’ve got to write a book about this,” and, well, actually someone did inspire me. Philip Johnson. If you’re not familiar with him I highly recommend you think a look at his books, The Practice Revolution and, oh, there’s one about your studio, dazzling studio [Unintelligible [00:27:20]. It’s this big, long title, but I highly recommend his book, The Practice Revolution, but he contacted me for some reason and said, “I think you need to write a book about the iPad,” and so I did and that was, it was quite exciting for me and I self-published it and it’s called “The iPad Piano Studio,” and it talks just about what I’m doing here in my studio, what apps I like to use, how I’ve become more and more paperless in my studio, but a lot of the apps also enhance creativity.

There are some really neat ones out like Tin-Pan Rhythm. It’s kind of like a Garageband. A lot of people are familiar with Garageband but it’s much less complicated and I think that’s what I’m always looking for, is, technology needs to be easy and it needs to enhance what you’re doing at the keys and that’s what I’m looking for in apps, as well.

So Tin Pan Rhythm is a great one because you can create all different chord progressions. They give you some chords that may sound good in the key that but you still get to decide which chords you want to use and then you can orchestrate that. You can add in guitar or percussion. So, you know, right away it gets those creative juices flowing so that’s how, number one, the iPad and technology came into my teaching and now technology and creativity, I think, just go hand-in-hand in so many ways and, again, credit to Bradley Sowash. He introduced me to the iPad app called I Will Pro which generates lead sheets and you can create any kinds of backing tracks that you might want to create and those are really helpful for when you want to run scales or you want to run chords or even, you know, play from a lead sheet. You’ve got to tighten your groove but you’ve got that backing track. It gives you that feeling of confidence because you’re not just playing by yourself.

Christopher: Terrific. Tell us more about 88 Creative Keys. We’ve made reference to it a few times and it’s kind of this umbrella brand for the work you and Bradley do together, but tell us what people can find at 88pianokeys.me and what you’re up to.

Leila: Okay, so, yeah. Let me just be clear because it does get a little confusing. I have a blog called 88pianokeys.me and that is, that’s mine alone. I started that back in 2013, kind of, right when I started getting hooked into all these apps on the iPad and around that same time Bradley Sowash and I were working on some projects together for teachers’ association conferences and we thought, “You know what? This is kind of fun working together. Let’s make our own brand,” and so that’s called 88 Creative Keys and since 2013 we have held workshops and those workshops are hands-on immersive experiences for pianists for them to learn how to be creative at the keys and it was geared towards hobbyists, pianists and teachers. We had a hard time finding a hobbyist-piano — the hobbyist piano player is hard to find and I know that Musical U has found them so congratulations to you, so we kind of moved over to the teacher realm because we knew that if we trained the teachers in this creativity and teaching more creatively then that would trickle down to the students that they, you know, that they are serving as well.

So right now we have a workshop coming up here in Denver, that is July 10 through 13 and it is, like I said, very immersive. It’s hands-on. The first day we invited Thomas Hoops who is here in Denver, as well, but he is a master at getting people off the bench and singing and listening and hearing and so that will be really exciting and then we also have Samantha Coats joining us from Australia who is a brilliant presenter and it’s really neat because she’s kind of coming around, too, as a classical pianist and seeing, you know, the value of teaching by rote, playing by rote, meaning, hearing things and being able to play it instead of reading it and she and I are both completely on board with the fact that if you can hear things and play it that really helps with your reading skills. So we’re really excited about this and, like I said, it is for teachers. We’d love to expand to hobby pianists again as well and we’d love to have people join us here.

Christopher: Cool. Well, I say periodically on this show when it comes up that, you know, if any of our listeners are inspired by our guest but our guest specializes in teaching teachers don’t hold back on checking them out because we as students and musicians can learn a lot from looking at what teachers are learning and I know in particular that your two websites, 88 Creative Keys and 88pianokeys.me, have a ton of interesting things that will stimulate. I think what’s been clear from our conversation is that creativity is not about magical inspiration and a totally blank canvas. It’s about looking for those things that inspire you and the little tools and the patterns or ideas you can take away and make your own and so I think those two websites are a fantastic place for people to go to kind of explore this idea and find out, you know, where could those sources of patterns and tools and inspirations come from for them.

Leila: Exactly. Thank you.

Christopher: And if people are looking to get started or learn more about your work, is there anything in particular you would point them to, maybe a blog post or a resource that they should check out?

Leila: Well, I do have a blog post, “How a Classically Trained Pianist Learned to Improvise” and I think that might be helpful to those who are looking to, number one, hone their skills as an ear player but also as an improviser because I only play by ear more and more because I’m forced to and also because I want to, you know, and I don’t think it’s just automatic, you know, I think, Christopher, you say that over and over again.
It’s not just going to happen. You have to do it over and over again. You have to make it a priority and you will get better and I think I have a really interesting situation right now in my life. I’m an organist so again I’m very from-the-box although an organist, usually they were taught to be improvisers, as well and I was not but I do have full-time organist position and it just so happens that there has been a change in the choir director position and that choir director is now also the contemporary band leader so he and I are just having such a great time because he’s having fun crossing over other the classical side of things and having to learn music and conduct and everything and I’m having a great time because we jam every Sunday on a hymn and most of the time on Saturdays, I’ll say, “Hey, Drew, what are we doing for communion tomorrow?” and he’ll say, “Oh, well, let’s do this tune,” and then, “Do you got any good chords?” and then he and I start talking and we — actually, what I usually do is send a little voice memo of something that I have come up with and then I scribble over the hymn some new chords and then we jam and I can tell you that I would have not done that. Even two years ago I would have been kind of, you know, “Eek! This is scary,” and now I just have such a great time and I think that is proof that when someone else is inspiring you and does something, you know, much better than you that really helps you grow and Drew is the kind of personality, you know, that he’s easy to work with and it’s a lot of fun, so if you ever have a chance to collaborate with someone who is, I wouldn’t say opposite, but definitely trained differently than you, it really is a neat opportunity.

Christopher: Fantastic. I think that’s terrific advice and I’ll just repeat what you said about pointing people to that blog post. I particularly enjoyed that myself so we will have a link to that in the show notes for this episode along with everything else we’ve mentioned.

Thank you again, Leila, for joining us today. It’s been such a pleasure to talk with you.

Leila: Well, thank you, Christopher, and I really respect what you’re doing and I love all your podcasts. I’m a very loyal listener.

Christopher: Thank you very much.

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