Posts Tagged ‘music’

Victor Lemonte Wooten is a bass player, composer, and author. He’s won five Grammy awards for his work with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and solo work. He is the youngest of five brothers, all musicians themselves, and his experience and journey with music started at the age of two. He is a true “virtuoso” in the art of music.

I have to give a small back story to why how Victor made an impression on me. I went to West Chester University in 2004. I met some great people and made life-long friendships. One of my closest friends, Abon, is a guitar player. He had been playing since he was about 7 and he had two guitars and a bass in his dorm. One night we were invited by another great friend, Matt, to a small live show. It was on the second floor of a lounge. It was pretty cool. There were multiple bands performing, one after another. I had never watched a band play live before then. One band, whose name I forget, stole the shw for me. The solo the lead guitar player played left me in awe. That night I decided I wanted to learn how to play the guitar.

I would grab Abon’s electric guitar, plug it in, and go to town on it; not playing a single note. That’s how I started my journey in music. Abon tried his best to teach me, but I had a hard time keeping my fingers on one string. My fingers and hands were kinda big and Abon took notice to that. He recommended I play the bass. Up to that point, I had no idea bass guitars existed! I knew of stand up basses, but I didn’t know anything about bass guitars. So I tried it. It was a much better feel to me. But it wasn’t til Matt showed me a video of this guy that I really took off. He showed me a video of Victor Wooten playing Amazing Grace. It was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t think an instrument like the bass could be played in such a way. It was then that I had someone to emulate.

I’m a self taught musician. It took years for me to hone my skills and develop the type of playing I do today. I’ve been playing bass for eight years now, and Victor Wooten has been there all the way. His approach to music and life is something everyone should take a look at. To Victor, as well myself, music is a language. A very beautiful one at that. For about the first four years I tried to immitate what he and other great bass players played while learning how to play. It’s a good road to take for a self taught musician but there comes a point where you have to find your own voice. He showed me that and I have my own voice today. He was the first to show me that my expression of the arts is unique to me, so no matter how I play, how I express, no one can call it their own. That’s an important lesson that all artists should learn. He taught me to just groove.

Thank U Vic!

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I asked a couple of friends to ask me a question about something they see in today’s world that they don’t sit well with. I’ve received good responses and I’m dedicating my next couple of blogs to shedding a different light on some of their views. One of the replies struck me because I hate the way the system is run and I chose this subject first. She writes “Ok, my most recent annoyance with the world is the fact that they are trying to eliminate music from schools. Choir, band, etc. I’m so pissed. In my opinion, music is very therapeutic. 90% of kids who come across a problem, or are just having a bad day, turn to music. They close their door and put on the radio. Some kids want to pertain music as a career. Without music in schools there will be total chaos. What, is it not “educational enough?”

I love music. It helps me cope with stress and just make it through my travels (bus rides can be very long). Music programs have been decaying in the public school system for years now and much of it has to do with funding, but there is more to it. So I do agree but I will use a different approach into what is happening. For those who see holes in my reasoning, please feel free to check me on what I say. This is solely based on my opinions and perspective.

Understand that the public school system is run bureaucratically. What that means is that the system is structured only be the most efficient at achieving their goals. The goal is to have the least amount of kids drop out and have the most number of kids go on to college. This sounds very ideal but I find it to be very idealistic because there is a dark undertone to the structure.

I’ve said in a past blog that public schools lack the unity of the school teachers, parents, students, and communities so if you want to read more on that I suggest reading that blog. https://b4barcus.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/the-problem-with-public-school/ I don’t want to touch on that again. What I see in this system, to get back on subject, is students are reduced to nothing but a number and a score. They reduce the passing scores on tests so more kids can pass such as the SAT and PSSA testing. This only gets students out of schools but it doesn’t mean they are prepared to face what lies beyond those doors and in life. Instead of preparing and educating the youth for life, all they accomplish is pushing these kids out their doors as fast as they can.

To step away from the subject at hand but for good reason I have to touch on American industry briefly (bear with me, it all comes together). America is in the “Information Technology” revolution. Our society is moving away from the industrial-labor society we’ve seen in the last century to the post-industrial society of today. We have moved from producing to servicing the world. What this means instead of back in the day where being in a skilled labor and physical jobs and make a decent living, we now work more with our minds. Our jobs have moved from factories to banks and marketing. These jobs require critical thinking and most importantly imagination.

That’s why, to me, music education is extremely vital to the development of the generations to come. I strongly agree with you in saying that schools may not see it being “educational” enough when all along it is almost fundamental to the development of a healthy mind in today’s society. When the youth feel individualism and expression, their imagination and horizons broaden. To bring everything together, music programs are very vital to developing the imagination and a sense of character in youth to better prepare them for the post industrial society we now live in. The problem then is with public schools being structured to pass kids through quickly, it may be seen as a “waste” to have kids involved in something that doesn’t generate good reports and numbers that schools want to show.

There is much that can be done to help with these problems, but to change the world we must first change ourselves. I hope I shed a little more light in the understanding of the issue, fixing it is a whole different issue.

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