Keynote Address-Victor Wooten
Victor Wooten, Rod Taylor, and JD Blair described the development of the electric bass and its role in a band. Since its development in the 1950’s, the bass has moved its way around the ensemble from the back to the forefront and all in between. It played a key part in the support of a band but was changed when ‘slapping’ was introduced by Larry Graham. Paul McCartney changed the role into a more melodic light and Stanley Clark made the bass the lead instrument. Through the open mindedness of Jaco and the transparency of Victor Wooten, bass players are free to dream of what they can do with the unique sound of this young instrument.
I love that this session was very interactive and it wasn’t just a speaker for an hour. Instead of telling or teaching us about the history of the bass, they were able to show us what was happening. This is a key element in Victor’s book, The Music Lesson.
Q and A with the Trio
My biggest take away from the question and answer session was how to gain the attention of students in a classroom. Victor is able to capture the attention of young students by simply playing his bass. Once they hear it they are intrigued and lean in to focus. When students are motivated, they will focus. We waste our time with teaching if the student’s are not ready to receive the information. Whether on a stage or in a classroom, we as performers and educators should be asking ourselves what the audience is doing. Are they leaning in and absorbing the information or are they relaxed to the point of sleep?
As a young bassist and obviously not a jazz musician, I felt that I was at a disadvantage going into the jam session. Victor knew that I was not as experienced as the rest of the people participating and he was very helpful. It felt good to know that I wasn’t just going to get left behind. The other bassists I played with were helpful too. Making sure I knew the progressions and even throwing me out there to sink or swim. It was definitely a different style for me to get used to. JD had a great perspective as a fellow novice bass player. He gave me some tips for how to hang in with the big dogs when you aren’t sure of what to do. This definitely opened my eyes to playing around with notes more.