Saturday, June 15, 2013

Music as a Language by Victor Wooten

Why Music Should Be Taught Less Like Algebra and More Like a Language?
by Victor Wooten

"Music is a powerful communication tool.
It causes us to laugh, cry, think and question."

For bassist and five-time Grammy winner, Victor Wooten, music is a language, just like English. Music should be taught the same way as any other language, and performing it should feel as natural as speaking, he said. Victor Wooten, asks us to approach music the same way we learn verbal language--by embracing mistakes and playing as often as possible.

"Music is best taught through performance, not practice, he said. Parents speak around their children, who, in turn, pick it up."
"When you think about a kid learning a language, it makes sense that when you're surrounded by it, and you're participating in it, you learn it quicker — much quicker — than sitting down and being taught," Wooten said. 
"The same thing is true about music. A kid that grows up in a musical family will learn it much quicker and much more thoroughly than a kid that's just taking lessons."
Wooten thinks the traditional system of music instruction deserves another look. Instead of sitting in a small room, going over chord progressions and drills with students, music teachers should inject more performance into their routines, he said. The occasional recital is not enough.

"When we learn a new word, we don't sit in a room and practice it — we start using it right away," he said. "That's where we figure everything about that word — not just how to say it, but how people respond to it. When you learn something musically, don't spend days, weeks, months practicing it. ... 
If our teachers played more with the students rather than just teaching, I believe our students will learn much quicker."
The mass-produced electric bass is about 60 years old, dating to the early 1950s. For the first few decades, the bass was relegated to the background, used to hold down the groove with the drums. Though standout bassists such as Jaco Pastorius and Wooten have brought the bass to the forefront, the instrument is still seen by many as a backup instrument.

"The general public is still not used to the bass shining out front," Wooten said. "It is still one of those instruments that surprises people when we do something kind of cool."

Wooten's tone, phrasing and use of harmonics has turned heads. He can get in the pocket and fill space like any of the best bassists, or step up and deliver a captivating solo. Over time, the instrument starts to disappear, and a direct connection with the music forms, Wooten said. On stage, he doesn't see himself as a bassist — he's a musician.

"When you talk, you don't say you're talking mouth, even though your mouth is your instrument," he said. "You say you're speaking English, because the instrument disappears. Most of the time, I'm able to reach that place where the instrument disappears."
Though Wooten is mentioned in the same breath as bass legends such as Pastorius, he said he doesn't take any of the accolades to heart. "I don't look at it as true or false," he said. "I look at it as opinions. The thing is, if I believe those good opinions, I have to believe the bad opinions, too. Who I really am is up to me."

"Music comes from the musician, not the instrument.
Many music teacher never found out, what the students have to say.
They only told what they're supposed to say.

And more important - remember that things only work best,
when we have something interesting to say."
Lesson by Victor Wooten, produced by TED-Ed.