Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Gabriel Cabrera is a food and prop stylist who runs a gorgeous food, art, design, and culture blog called Artful Desperado, and we were hooked after seeing just one blog post. The photos will make you want to take photography (and perhaps even food styling!) more seriously, and Gabriel’s writing is fun, catchy, and engaging – you won’t be able to visit his blog just once.

After having studied Tourism Management at Universidad Anahuac, Gabriel received his Culinary Arts degree from Vancouver Community College. The skills he learned from culinary school comes into play every single day, whether he’s dreaming up a new recipe for Artful Desperado or for his Stylist job at Luvo Inc.

We are excited to share this exclusive interview with Gabriel, where he shares his top three photography tips, his favorite dessert he’s ever made, and an inside look on what his blog and stylist duties entail. Read on for more culinary inspiration!

Name: ​Gabriel Cabrera
Education: ​Tourism Management from Universidad Anahuac; Culinary Arts from Vancouver Community College
Follow: ​TheArtfulDesperado.com / Instagram@ArtfulDesperado
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

GAB: ​I think the process of seizing your youth never truly ends. To me it’s a constant state of mind where you must take every opportunity you can to shape your future. Seizing your youth is a life­-long learning experience through trial and error. This means you cannot give up and you cannot shy away from creative/life challenges, otherwise you will be giving up on some very valuable life lessons (which by the way, are tuition free!). Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you always end up with a new skill that will help you get closer to success.

CJ: You majored in Tourism Management at Universidad Anahuac. How did you determine what to study?

GAB: ​I chose Tourism Management based on my personal interests, which are travel and food. It was a tricky choice! You know, turning something you love into your full-time job may not be what you would expect. When I chose Tourism Management I thought “I’m going to travel everywhere for a living!” I was wrong; I was stuck in an office making sure everyone was enjoying their vacations, and that killed me. Some people thrive in the service industry, but not this cat.

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CJ: You then went on to receive a Professional Certificate in Culinary Arts from Vancouver Community College. What sparked your passion for food and cooking, and what was your culinary school experience like?

GAB: ​I’ve always loved cooking. I was born in Mexico, so food is a HUGE part of our culture, pretty much every social interaction revolves around food (fine by me!). I wanted to do something with this foodie passion of mine, so I decided to take it to the next level in cooking school. I knew it was going to be hard work (despite what everyone thinks, a kitchen is more like the military than what you see on the Food Network). I had some really stressful moments where I thought to myself “why am I doing this!?!” but deep inside I knew I had to keep going. I did, and I don’t regret it one bit. I think that’s key – you’ve got to listen to your inner voice. Your gut is right 99.9% of the time and if something feels like it fits ­despite the stress and sleepless nights ­then it will turn out for the better. Trust me, your sweat and tears pay off!

CJ: You run the stunning blog, Artful Desperado. What inspired you to start your blog, and what do your blogger duties look like?

GAB: ​The blog started as a creative exercise to train myself to be more aware of what was happening in the art, design, and food world. From then on it took off and it changed a bit to be more focused on food and styling which is what I do.

My blogger duties are basically wearing many hats! Copy-writing, photographing, styling, editing, business skills (to create partnerships with sponsors or brands) and even a bit of HTML coding (for any bugs that may happen). A “day in the life of” looks like this: gather inspiration for a new post, test the recipe, gather props and ingredients, cook, style and shoot, edit, write the blog post, and promote to social channels. Mind you, due to my work schedule I currently don’t blog daily, I only update once a week­-ish.

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CJ: What is the best piece of advice you would give a baking/cooking enthusiast?

GAB​: Travel! Seriously, get out there. Cookbooks are awesome, and so are ideas from Pinterest, but traveling is just the real deal. You don’t have to go somewhere extremely expensive or exotic (though, if you can, then yes! by all means go), you can do trips in your state or province and try different things you’d never try before. Architecture, culture, nature; all of them will have a major impact on the way you see/create food.

CJ: You take gorgeous photos on Artful Desperado and your Instagram. What are your top three photography tips?

GAB: ​Top three would be: 1 -­ Great lighting. Lighting is key to achieving a great photograph, learn the basics and practice as much as you can and soon enough you’ll start seeing it everything in a different light (pun intended). 2 – If it doesn’t look good, then don’t share it­. The Internet is full of images, no need to add something that’s not appealing (there’s plenty of that already). Just Google “Martha Stewart food photos” and you’ll see what I mean. 3 ­- Experiment. Try different set ups and styles until you find the one that fits you, this also helps you learn lots about styling/photographing in different situations so you’ll become a pro.

CJ: You are also a photographer and stylist at Luvo Inc, a company that provides healthy and convenient pre­made meals that are good for you. What does your role as photographer and stylist entail?

GAB: ​My job is making sure we visually showcase our food and team recipes in the best way possible, according to brand standards and also depending on what our customers love. I also coordinate our photo shoots making sure we have everything we need: food, props, equipment, etc. On a typical week I’d be brainstorming for a shoot, hunting new props, working with our team to design a set for our “scenes,” cooking, and testing recipes, etc. It’s busy!

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CJ: What is your favorite meal or dessert you’ve ever made?

GAB: That would be a very simple and easy Mexican flan ­- honestly, whenever I make it it’s a couple hours before I eat it all. I love it because it brings back so many childhood memories and tastes like heaven.

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person hoping to set themselves up for success in the culinary world?

GAB: ​Have stamina! The kitchen is tough place. Also try to gain as much experience outside of regular work; go intern at a top restaurant or practice at home with friends and document it (these are the baby steps of starting to build your own recipes). Surround yourself with activities that will enrich your culinary style: go see some art shows, watch food documentaries and movies, check out classic cookbooks from the library. The more you know your craft, the more you’ll get noticed in the industry. Basically you’ve got to build respect from day one. Street cred, ya know!?

CJ:  How do you stay organized and manage your time?

GAB: ​I’m old-school and I use a monthly planner (an actual notebook) and a sketchbook. In my planner I put every single deadline I have and the name of the project. Any additional notes such as number of assets I need to create (e.g. number of photos or looks), shopping lists, mood boards, fabric samples, etc. they all go in my sketchbook in the appropriate project. Needless to say my sketchbook gets HUGE! But it’s nice to see all the things you done and keep all that important creative information for future projects.

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CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care about? If so, why?

GAB: ​I’m not sure if it’s a cause but it’s something I really care about: I am pro­-food­-happiness and anti­-internet-­stupidity. The first means to be happy with your diet: don’t be vegan just because, don’t eat a bunch of meat just because ­ do it because you actually enjoy it. If you’re a concerned about the environmental impact, then make better choices such as eating cruelty free products. If you’re a vegetarian and you want to eat a spicy chorizo sandwich then do it! Whatever you choose, do it because it makes you happy.

The second is so important and I feel the new generation of youngsters need to learn more about it: everything you post online will stay in there forever and ever, so be careful and internet-­etiquette savvy.

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

GAB: ​That would have to be negative feedback. As a creative I really take it to heart when someone doesn’t like my work. I’ve learned that is not the end of the world -­ different strokes for different folks, right? Instead of shutting down, I’m working on taking the bits that will help improve my work and move on.

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CJ: What is your favorite book?

GAB: Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine by René Redzepi.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

GAB: ​I bake and/or go to take photos outside my home. Baking for me is like meditation as you’ve got to visualize your recipe, measure ingredients, etc., and the rewards are always oh­-so­-sweet (another pun!). Taking photos just for myself and not for work is also the best, a lot of times I go out and take a ton of photos and then delete them all. It’s kind of therapeutic.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20­-year-­old self?

GAB: ​Quality not quantity! Back then I felt I needed to have a lot of everything: friends, contacts, clothes. Really tightening your social life, contacts, and finances helps you stay focused on the things that matter.

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Images by Gabriel Cabrera; profile photo by Tomasz Wagner; graphic by Carpe Juvenis

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

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When we find ourselves in rooms with powerful, smart, and accomplished women, we take notes. Lots of notes. That’s why when we met Kelly Noonan, Attorney and Managing Partner at Seattle law firm Stokes Lawrence, we had our pens and notebooks in hand and were ready to learn. Kelly blew us away with her thoughtfulness, generosity, and keen observations. From sharing the greatest lessons she’s learned being an attorney to describing her involvement with a neighborhood legal clinic, Kelly is extremely knowledgeable in her line of work and engaged with her community. For anyone interested in a career in law, definitely take what Kelly says into consideration (if you’re starting your law school applications you’ll be especially grateful!). Her piece of advice that we still carry with us to this day: “Try to keep your eyes open and learn as much as you can from every experience.” Now, get ready to take some notes!

Name: Kelly Noonan
Age: 51
Education: BA in English from University of Notre Dame; Doctor of Law (JD) from University of Washington School of Law; Executive Development Program at University of Washington Foster School of Business

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Kelly Noonan: There are opportunities throughout your life, and I don’t think they necessarily go away when you get older. But certainly, some opportunities are much easier to seize when you are young than when you are older. When you have more long-term financial obligations, when you have a family, when you have commitments and responsibilities that are deeper and more long-term to your community, career, and your family, it becomes harder to pivot. It’s a bit easier to explore and take chances when you are younger.

CJ: Prior to going to law school, you received your undergrad degree in English at the University of Notre Dame. Was law school part of your plans during college?

KN: No. I changed my major a number of times while I was in college. I settled on English, which was a very good choice for me. I was pretty sure I would go to graduate school, but I hadn’t settled on what I would pursue. I considered a number of possibilities. I worked for a year between undergrad and law school, and gave a lot of thought to what I wanted to do long-term.

I thought about what I really like to do and what kind of environment I wanted. I decided that I like studying, learning, and the academic process. Being a lawyer involves a lot of that. You don’t learn “the law” and then go out and apply it. Law is constantly evolving and changing, and almost every case requires that you learn some nuance of law and how it applies to your client’s circumstances.

I also like being surrounded by other people who are intellectually curious and who are interested in growing and developing. I also wanted a career where I could help people, maybe change lives because I had a skill that is desperately needed. I hoped to have some autonomy in creating the career I wanted. I feel fortunate because over time all of these qualities I wanted in a career have proven to be true.

CJ: Studying for the LSAT is not an easy process. What was your experience with the test prep? What tips do you have for those interested in signing up for the LSAT? (How long in advance did you begin studying? Did you take a course? How did you balance studying for the LSAT with your college coursework?)

KN: I did not take the LSAT during college. I took the GRE and the GMAT while I was in college. I took the LSAT in the fall after I graduated from college. I didn’t take a course because I couldn’t afford it and I didn’t have a lot of time with my full-time job. I bought a book and worked through it. I was pretty disciplined. When I knew my test date, I broke the book down into sections and studied a bit every day.

While it’s not how I did it, I would advise taking a course, especially if you’re someone who finds standardized tests challenging. The LSAT is like the SAT on steroids. The process of preparing for and applying to law school is not all that different than the process of applying to college.

CJ: Besides working hard to get a good score on the LSAT, what did you do to prepare for the law school application? Is there anything you wish you had known or that you would have done differently?

KN: The more you can learn about what lawyers do, the better. Talk to as many lawyers as you can – criminal lawyers, commercial lawyers, transactional lawyers, people who work in companies, etc. – because it will help inform your thinking.

It’s not uncommon for people who are interested in going to law school to get an entry level job in a law firm. A lot of people have come through my firm who have been thinking about law school. Some of them have gone on to law school and some have changed their minds and taken a different path. Law school is competitive and expensive, and the job market is highly competitive. The financial commitment to go to law school today is far greater than when I went.

If you are considering law school, be very clear about why you want to be a lawyer. Law school is a trade school. I would not advise going to law school because it is a good foundation for something other than being a lawyer. It’s true that law school provides a strong foundation in logic, research, analysis and clear communications, all skills that have application beyond law, but the mission of law schools is to train future lawyers. Unless you have unlimited funds and time, go to law school only because you want to be a lawyer.

When applying to law schools, be as clear as you can about what you want. You don’t have to know what kind of law you want to practice, but knowing why you want to go and communicating that clearly in writing is valuable. If you can’t do that, then think twice about why you’re doing this. Tell the people you are asking for recommendations why you want to go to law school, what you hope to gain, and what you hope to contribute to the community. It will make it easier for them to provide personalized, positive references.

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CJ: What do you think are the advantages and/or disadvantages of going to law school right after undergrad versus getting work experience?

KN: I think either approach can be okay. I have a bias in favor of working for a while before you go to graduate school, and not just law school. Having some non-academic experiences is helpful in a number of different ways. It can help you figure out what you want

In the second and third year of law school you get more practical experiences, but if your experiences before law school were only academic, your frame of reference is more limited, and understanding how the theory works in the real world can be a bit mysterious. When you have had a chance to step away from the academic, you may bring more to your classwork, get more out of your experience, and your motivations are clearer. As far as what to do in between undergrad and law school, I don’t think you need to work in a law firm or in some other law-oriented job, although that has the advantage of giving you some insight into what lawyers do day-to-day. Serving in the Peace Corp, working for a company or nonprofit or working in the public sector are all valuable, as well. The point is to step away from academic life for a time.

With all that said, there are many fantastic lawyers who have gone straight through from undergrad to law school.

CJ: You are the Managing Shareholder at Stokes Lawrence. What does your role as Managing Shareholder entail?

KN: A law firm is a business, and somebody needs to be focused primarily on running the business. That person is me. My focus is on managing the business of the law firm, similar to the CEO of a company.

I started phasing out of the active practice of law about six or seven years ago. I spend my time focused on our strategies, the competitive environment, how to provide our services so that we are helping our clients to make decisions and succeed, how to train, mentor and develop our people, what we can do to make sure we remain successful and viable, how to maintain a positive and productive firm culture, and what we need to do to satisfy our obligations in the community. I work closely with our administrative managers including Finance and Accounting, IT, Human Resources, Marketing and the administrative practice teams. I love it.

CJ: You’re phasing out of the active practice of law, but when you did practice law, you focused on business advising and commercial litigation with an emphasis on consumer class action defense and advertising and consumer law. How did you choose these topics to practice?

KN: I had a preference for trial work, litigation and working with clients to resolve disputes rather than a transactional business practice. When I started practice, I knew those were my preferences, but there’s a lot of training and learning that occurs once you get out of law school, almost like an apprenticeship. I was trained and mentored by more senior attorneys and they really taught me how to do my job. I became a commercial litigator in part because that’s what I wanted to do, but the emphasis on class actions and advertising and consumer law were driven in large part by our client base and the help they needed. I liked balancing the advisory work with litigation. I am still a lawyer and I still do some advisory work, but all of my litigation matters have phased out.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from being an attorney?

KN: Recognizing that a lot of situations are gray. Very rarely are situations black or white. If it is, frankly, then people don’t need the services of a lawyer. The world we work in as lawyers is many of shades of gray. The law doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists in relation to the facts and the circumstances of real life people, real life companies, and real world situations that don’t organize themselves neatly. It’s something I continue to learn as a lawyer.

One of the real privileges as a lawyer is to be able to take a client’s situation and help craft the right approach so they can achieve their goals. There’s not always one path, and it’s not necessarily the most obvious path. It’s critically important to keep your eyes and ears wide open to recognize the opportunities, the potentials, and the pitfalls that maybe aren’t obvious. You need to have a broad perspective but always have your eye on the goal.

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CJ: You are a member of the peer mentoring organization, Women Presidents’ Organization, a non-profit formed to improve business conditions for women entrepreneurs. How did you get involved with this organization and what is your role?

KN: Women President’s Organization is a peer mentoring group, and I got involved with it five or six years ago. It’s a terrific organization with chapters around the world. Each chapter is composed of about 20 women who are the owner, CEO or president of their mid-size company. We are in a variety of industries. We meet monthly and have confidential discussions about the business and leadership issues we face. Being part of this organization has really helped me to hone my leadership skills.

I also belong to a WPO Platinum chapter for larger businesses, and this group involves women from throughout North America. I get something different out of each group, and both are valuable in helping me to increase my skills and effectiveness in managing the firm. No matter what you’re doing or what your stage in life, having a peer group is so helpful. A study group in college or grad school can help you learn from others’ experiences and create connections with others in a similar situation.

CJ: You also volunteer regularly at the King County Bar Association Downtown Neighborhood Legal Clinic. How did you choose to get involved with this?

KN: I’ve done a variety of pro-bono work over the years, but I was finding it more difficult to take on pro-bono cases with my other case loads and responsibilities. The Neighborhood Legal Clinic is a great opportunity to volunteer your time and skills to people who really need your help, and the time commitment is fixed. I work at the clinic about once a month for two hours at the King County Courthouse. King County residents can make an appointment to meet with a lawyer for 30 minutes.

Clinic clients are generally very prepared, and an extremely concentrated 30 minutes of helping people with a variety of issues.

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be a lawyer do now to set themselves up for success?

KN: Being a good communicator – both verbally and in writing – is a critical skill. The ability to organize your thoughts, combine logic with emotion, and put these thoughts into writing is necessary. If you can do that in writing, you have a good foundation for verbal communications. It’s not about being the loudest debater. Great lawyers are clear thinkers who enjoy the analytical process and who can take different sides of the same issue and make a compelling argument.

If you think you might want to be a lawyer, develop these skills. Take classes where you will be challenged and where you will work on critical reasoning and analytical skills, and where you will communicate and defend your ideas in writing and verbally. Hone these skills. Read with an eye towards understanding the logic involved in an editorial or opinion piece. Be an active learner and enjoy the academic process.

CJ: What was the last book that you read?

KN: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

KN: I remember thinking I had to have a plan when I graduated college. Nobody told me that, but I felt I had to get going right away in my “real” life. I would tell my younger self: don’t be in such a hurry to figure out what you’re going to become. The true is, we don’t someday arrive at our adult selves. That’s not the way it works. It’s a journey. There are a lot of steps on the journey. Pay attention to the steps along the way.

After college I got a job as a bill collector, and I remember at the time almost being embarrassed. I felt like I wasn’t taking advantage of my education. When I look back on that job, though, I realize I learned a lot, and some of the skills and lessons I learned carry over today.

It’s amazing what happens when you do your best and try to contribute as much as you can. Try to keep your eyes open and learn as much as you can from every experience. It’s amazing what doors open that you never even knew existed. Be alert enough to recognize opportunities when they come along and to learn from all of your experiences, even if they’re short term or difficult.

Don’t be in a hurry, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Sometimes you just have to jump in and see what happens.

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CultureHealthSkills

If you’re looking for ways to improve your physical or emotional health, productivity, memory, focus and energy, meditation can truly help you do that. Even better, it’s free.

There are many ways to meditate, and while I’ve just scratched the surface with my practice, I’ve already seen some of its positive effects working in my life.

The thing is, a lot of people just don’t know how to get started, think it’s strange, or have tried it but were discouraged. After all, meditation sometimes gets a bad rap; people think they have to sit cross-legged, chant Om, be spiritual or religious and completely empty their minds. Those feats range from awkward to intimidating.

But getting started really isn’t so bad. I’ll break down some of the common roadblocks that keep people from meditating. In part two, I’ll actually walk you through a meditation sequence so you can try it yourself.

Roadblock 1: “I’m not calm or patient; I can barely sit still.”

Being calm and patient is not a requirement for meditating. In fact, one of the main reasons people do meditate is to increase their calmness, patience and inability to sit with themselves and their emotions. The practice will help you find those qualities in yourself and shed your impatience or angst.

Roadblock 2: “Meditation is too time consuming. I’m busy.”

Start with five minutes a day and slowly increase it as you begin to see its benefits. It is said, though, that if you think you’re too busy to meditate for five minutes, you should meditate for 15. It basically means that meditation will help you put your schedule and stress levels into perspective.

Roadblock 3: “I’ve tried emptying my mind, but I can’t.”

Meditation isn’t about creating a blank mind; that’s not normal. If you’ve been trying to force your mind to stop all activity, it’s no surprise you’ve had trouble with it. Meditation is actually just a way to view your thoughts without trying to change them or force them to do anything.

Roadblock 4: “I don’t see how meditation can help me.”

Over time, meditation has tremendous health benefits, including reduced stress levels, improved sleep, greater emotional balance, increased immunity, reduced blood pressure, relief from conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, and reduced depression, anxiety and anger issues. Overall, it can relieve all kinds of emotional and physical ailments while giving you more clarity on what’s really in your heart and mind.

Roadblock 5: “I don’t have anywhere to go that’s silent or isolated.”

The great thing is that you can meditate anywhere. Being aware of the sounds around you without letting them distract you is part of it. Of course, being interrupted by coworkers or roommates can be tricky, but don’t worry about finding total silence and isolation. You can sit on a park bench, in an airplane, at your desk, anywhere. As you continue meditating, you will start to learn how to be mindful of your thoughts and feelings anywhere, without even closing your eyes.

Stay tuned for a walk-through of a beginner’s meditation sequence!

Image: Caleb Roenigk, Flickr

EducationSkills

Networking isn’t the easiest thing to do. However, after many awkward moments and trying new approaches, we learned that networking does get better with practice. After many events and opportunities to network, we have taken notes about what worked and what didn’t for us and put them together in a handy infographic. Take a look and happy networking!

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

You’ve already met the manager and lead singer of Dizzy Bats, Connor Frost. Now it’s time to meet the drummer, Eric Segerstrom. While being Dizzy Bats’s drummer, Eric also attends Juilliard in New York City. Eric realized his passion for music at an early age and has pursued it relentlessly. Dizzy Bats has some exciting things happening in the next couple of months, including the music video release of their most recent single, Girls, which premieres today (check it out HERE)! Until then, let’s get to know some more about Eric… 

When did you join Dizzy Bats?
I joined Dizzy Bats in the fall of 2012, in September or October.

How do you contribute to the songwriting or music composition process?
Usually Connor will bring in songs that he’s written and I’ll come up with beats that I think would fit well. Then we go back and forth changing small things in both the song and the drum part until it’s somewhere where all of us like it.

What has been your favorite tour moment?
Although I’ve only been on one tour with DB, my favorite moment might’ve been when one of our shows got cancelled and we spent the whole day playing Star Wars monopoly, hah.

When did you realize you wanted to do music professionally?
Sometime in high school when I noticed that that’s really all I enjoyed doing/was good at doing.

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What is your favorite Dizzy Bats song to play live?
Connor just wrote a song that’s super pop-punky and really loud and fast. I think we’re playing it on our next show, and its just a minute and a half of D-beat fun.

What is your pre-show ritual?
Hm, I don’t really think I have a “ritual.” I guess I try to stretch and tune all the drums before every show, so maybe that counts as a ritual?

How do you combat stage fright?
There’s this class I’ve had to take at college called Ear Training, and every week you have to get up infront of the class and do some form of recitation, which is anything from singing atonal melodies to performing insane rhythmic exercises. Having to do this every week for every year at school has kind of numbed me to performing in front of people. If I can mess up singing an interval in front of a class and get past it, I think I can mess up anything in front of a crowd and get past it.

 How many hours a day do you practice?
No where near enough.

Any tips for learning how to play an instrument?
Lessons can be great, but if you don’t click with your teacher, they can actually be detrimental. You do you and if you really want to, find someone who will help you do exactly what you want to do.

How has your experience at Juilliard influenced your work with Dizzy Bats?
Not very much. I’m at school for music composition, so all of my drumming stuff is just on the side.

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Girls