Q&A: Ben Shinabery

John Ross, Columbus Alive

Through The Dick & Jane Project, lyrics written by local middle-school students are set to music and recorded by adult musicians, who attempt to take the adolescent art from notebook to Napster.

As founder Ben Shinabery likes to say about the venture: It's that simple and that cool.

At Saint Mary Magdalene School, a former site of the project, he shared about music, school and inspiring kids to create.

Favorite subject in school: Math. I was good at it. "Tecmo Super Bowl" taught me my multiplication table of seven. That's really how I learned math - through videogames.

Least favorite subject in school: Science. As a youngster, I did not like science. It didn't interest me at all.

Best teacher you ever had: My astronomy professor in college, Richard Pogge. He was the definition of a passionate teacher. I'll never forget his lecture on the supernova. It literally did change my life.

Worst teacher you ever had: My 10th grade biology teacher. I'm still kind of bitter about not getting into science until astronomy class.

Favorite musical artist: If I had to pick one, I love Elton John. He actually made playing the piano seem cool.

Least favorite musical artist: I absolutely, 100 percent hate Ke$ha. She is the biggest motivating force for me and The Dick & Jane Project. It's really terrifying when you hear 10-year-old girls talking about, "Aw! Did you see the music video for 'Blow'?"

First time you played an instrument: I started playing piano when I was five or six. I remember the song I made up.

Last time you played an instrument: This morning. I played piano. I was jamming hard on some Justin Bieber.

First song you recorded with the project: "The Life of a Tree." When I first graduated college, I worked as a director of a YMCA after-school program. A very big troublemaker in the school wrote that song. He didn't have anything to do during homework time, and I said, "Well, just write something."

Last song you recorded with the project: "Fair May." In the back bathroom of Kafe Kerouac, they have basically a whole gallery of pictures and writings that they find in the old, used books that are donated or sold to the store. A year and a half ago, when I was starting the project, I found "Fair May." It was written by somebody in grade five. The name was illegible.

Photo by Jodi Miller

Ben Shinaberry

Age: 25

Day job: Player services associate, Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club

Neighborhood: Victorian Village

Hometown: Painesville