The Music Lesson by Victor L. Wooten


I gave this book a 2 out of 6 rating on the “Christmas Bag scale.”  This is the third book I’ve read from the Bag (see this link for an explanation:

Victor Lemonte Wooten is a Grammy Award winning bass guitarist who has long been known for his unusual philisophical approach to music.  He has been named Bass Player of the Year by Bass Player Magazine three times, and is the only musician to have received that award more than once.  He has become legendary amongst the music community for his technical virtuosity and here, in The Music Lesson, he offers some insight into what inspires him to such levels of excellence.

The Music Lesson is “A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music.”  The book is written in first person and the narrator is a struggling musician who, after many years of barely getting by, finds himself in more of a slump than usual.  He’s broke, has no romantic prospects and is suffering from a general malaise regarding both music and life.  In walks Michael, an eccentric, larger-than-life character who has all the answers.  Though uninvited, the narrator is immediately intrigued and decides to accept his offer to teach him about Music.

Michael (who may be a manifestation of Music, a portion of the narrator himself, a guru, diety or angel…we’re never quite sure) uses unconventional techniques to teach the ten equal parts of music:  notes, articulation, technique, feel, dynamics, rhythm, tone, phrasing, space and listening.  No part is more important than the other and each, as we find out, is as applicable in life as it is in music.

The front and back of the book are covered with praise, all from musicians or music editors, so I know there is an audience for this book.  It’s also a title that has been asked for at the bookstore frequently.  But for me – it was a struggle to get through.  I found it overly didactic and was simply uninterested in the lesson.  The best I can say is that occasionally there was a clever phrasing of words that caught my attention but for the most part it was a painful experience.  There was absolutely no entertainment value for me.  Maybe you just need a greater understanding of music than I possess to get it.

I do respect Wooten’s ingenuity in creating what appears to be a full curriculum of music philosophy.  It’s no wonder that he is such an accomplished musician.  Anyone who manages to gain greater understanding by unconventional thinking is bound to see measurable results of one kind or another.  He’s definitely an outside-of-the-box thinker.

Published in: on February 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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