Book Review: The Music Lesson – Victor L. Wooten

I started re-reading The Music Lesson by Victor L. Wooten, the bassist for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, as well as master clinician and solo artist, a couple of weeks ago. A student of mine gave me a copy to read last summer and I flew through it and really enjoyed it. There were concepts that I took away from the book that changed my playing–they really worked! But I am not going to talk about those quite yet. My purpose was to read it again and give a detailed review of the book, but instead I was stopped dead in my tracks within the first couple of pages. I couldn’t go on. I thought, with index finger to mouth, “I have to ponder these concepts first, before moving on”. It was an interesting discovery, it was as if these little nuggets were placed strategically in the beginning of the book to be glossed over, disguised as low-hanging fruit. Maybe I am right, maybe I am wrong. Regardless, instead of my thoughts, you will get excerpts (from pages 3, 8, 9, 10 & 11) and you can decide for your self if you want to go on. I will try and give proper context if needed (all of these passages are from his mysterious “music teacher” Michael unless otherwise noted:

“Like one hand clapping, a one-sided relationship never works. It is clear to me now. For a relationship to work efficiently there music be equality in every way. Both Parties must give to each other, take from each other, respect each other, love each other, and listen to each other…I listened to Music[sic] in the past but only in a one-sided way. I only listened to what I wanted to hear, not what Music had to say. It was as if I only wanted to hear my own opinion…We are usually so anxious to say the next word or phrase that we don’t fully listen to what anyone else is saying. We feel the need to get our point across–the need to win. That doesn’t cultivate a good relationship. It won’t work with Music either.”– Victor L. Wooten

“Music, like life, and like you, is one entity expressing itself through its differences…Music is one thing, but it wouldn’t exist without its parts. You couldn’t play a chord without different notes. Change a note, change the chord. Life is no different, and neither are you. You are expressing yourself in Life[sic] by choosing different notes all the time. Learn to be conscious of your note choices and Life will respond with the proper chord or, in other words, Life will respond accordingly.” –Michael 

“He seemed to think that all things were made up of vibrations, especially music(Wooten)…All things are in motion, and although a thing may appear to be stationary, it is always moving. The motion may change, but it will never cease. All Music ever played is still playing(Teacher)…He even told me that thoughts were vibrations…I had no way of disproving him…when I thought about the the way a lie detector works, measuring subtle changes in vibrations from the mind and body, I figured that he might have a point…When I asked how he knew all that stuff, his immediate response surprised me. ‘A better questions is: How come you don’t know it? All knowledge that ever existed, or ever will exist is already out there in the air. All you need to do is tune in to what you want to know.” –conversation between Wooten and Michael

“All things have a mind…Even an acorn holds, in it’s mind, a picture of the whole tree. If this were not true, how could the tree ever show up? Do you think that your mind is any less powerful than an acorn’s? Pictures or Music held in the human mind are bound to come forth. They have to! That is the law! Learning to use the mind is the key to all possibilities.”                              –Michael

That is where I stop. The power in these words has not been lost on me, and I have transcribed these down a couple of times, read them over and over to try and get the depth and meaning. They have helped me but I feel like it is only the tip of the Iceberg. I will probably move on but I am going to stay on these pages (11) until I can come to some sort of conclusion. Hope this stuff is as fun and challenging for you as it is for me.

Victor Wooten and a Jason Jam bookmark.

Victor Wooten and a Jason Jam bookmark.