World Renowned Bassist Victor Wooten on “Music as a Language”

Here is an awesome snippet from one of my favorite bass players, Victor Wooten.  It is taken from a larger article on music…

The whole article is great, but this Victor Wooten excerpt is absolutely fantastic.  The last line of this snippet is my favorite!

Music as a language

Victor Wooten of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones isn’t a scientist, but he has thought a lot about the process of learning to play music. For him, introducing a child to music shouldn’t be different from the way a child begins speaking.

“I just approach music as a language, because it is,” Wooten said. “It serves the same purpose. It’s a form of expression. A way for me to express myself, convey feelings, and sometimes it actually works better than a written or verbal language.”

Traditionally, a child learns to play music by being taught how an instrument works, and learning to play easy pieces that they practice over and over. They might also play music with other beginners. All the rules come first — notes, chords, notation — before they play.

But with language, young children never know that they’re beginners, Wooten said. No one makes them feel bad when they say a word incorrectly, and they’re not told to practice that word dozens of times. Why should it be different with music?

“If you think about trying to teach a toddler how to read, and the alphabet, and all that stuff, before they can speak, we’d realize how silly that really is,” Wooten said. “Kids most of the time quit, because they didn’t come there to learn that. They came to learn to play.”

He remembers learning to play music in an immersive way, rather than in a formulaic sequence of lessons. When he was born, his four older brothers were already playing music and knew they needed a bass player to complete the band. “My brothers never said, ‘This is what you’re going to do,'” he said.

Wooten took this philosophy and created summer camps to get kids excited about music in a more natural way.

“It’s rare that I ever meet a musician who doesn’t agree that music is a language. But it’s very rare to meet a musician that really treats it like one.”

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