By Rod Taylor
Today marks the first full day of Victor Wooten’s Music/Nature Camp, located at Wooten Woods outside of Nashville, TN. Last night 60 campers used their instruments to introduce themselves to each other, which resulted in some interesting presentations. Since this is a “music camp,” and not just a “bass camp,” I got a chance to hear a variety of compositions bass, guitar, keyboards, violin, and even flute. There are people here from all over the U.S., as well as Russia, Denmark, Australia, and a few other countries. The energy is high, as it always is at Vic’s camp. Steve Bailey, Anthony Wellington, Victor and Reggie Wooten, and sax player Bob Franceschini (Mike Stern) are on hand to teach music today, and campers will also be learning the connection between music and nature from several nature instructors.
Nature instructor Richard Cleveland starts a bow-drill fire to the accompaniment of Victor Wooten.
I’m here to teach archery. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Yes, besides a four-string, I play a one-string instrument as well, and so do Victor and Steve. Thursday, I will be helping campers learn how to shoot a bow and arrow (and yes, I will connect it to bass playing). I taught here before a couple of years back and had a blast. One of the cool things about Victor’s camps is that participants are exposed to a variety of activities that, at first glance, seem disconnected and perhaps even irrelevant. But students are encouraged to reflect upon these experiences throughout the week and slowly but surely start to see the way in which learning to start a fire with sticks or navigating your way through the woods blindfolded can make you a better musicians. I know. Sounds weird, right? It is. But it also works. At this camp, players are given opportunities to learn something new about nature and music several times each day, and just the creative vibe is enough to inspire good playing.
Campers prepare to introduce themselves via their instruments.
This morning, we begin with a blindfold stalk. And then students went with their small groups to various locations to work with different instructors. These are called rotations, and every day each rotation is different. In the evenings—lots of music. Most evenings will feature surprise guest musicians. Past guest include Chuck Rainey, Bootsy Collins, Mike Gordon, Bela Fleck, Jeff Coffin, and Stanley Clarke. You never know who will show up here, which is part of the fun. Well, I gotta get back to the music. I’ll blog about the camp each day (it goes from Tuesday to Sunday), so check back in to learn a bit more about it, although I would highly recommend checking it out in person sometime.