An Experience at Victor Wooten's
Music and Nature Camp
In October of 2009 Kat Koch went to Victor Wooten’s Music and Nature Camp as a student of vocal performance. The uniqueness of the week spent solely focused on music, nature, and community brought Kat to share her experiences with us in this article.
Below is a brief account of Kat’s time spent at Victor Wooten’s Music and Nature Camp held near Nashville, TN.
by Kat Koch
Victor Wooten. These two words bring bass players across the globe to their knees. If there is anyone out there still unacquainted with him, please let me introduce you to one of the world’s most prominent bass players. Victor Wooten is a Grammy award-winning musician who has been playing the bass since the age of 2. He has also been credited with pretty much inventing a whole new approach to the instrument. Perhaps the thing that I admire most about Victor, though, is his amazing abilities as a teacher of music. His dedication to his students and craft is second to none. I guess it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to me that Victor has discovered the benefits of nature connection.
Back in the mid 90’s Victor Wooten began studying with Tom Brown Jr. of the Tracker School. This is where Victor began to learn cool wilderness skills such as tracking animals, and wilderness survival. Along the way, Victor discovered that these new skills were not all that different from playing music. He soon realized the links between being a good musician and connecting with nature.
As a way to help other people become better musicians, Victor decided to try an experimental workshop entitled “Bass/Nature Camp.” The rest is history. In September of 2000, bass players from all over the globe came to study with Victor Wooten and his incredible staff of well-known bass players, musicians, and wilderness experts. The camps were such a success that in October of 2009, Victor expanded his class offerings to include a camp for all instruments, not just bass players.
I was lucky enough to be a student at the first-ever Music and Nature Camp. Our relatively small class of 40 people spent four full days rotating between music and nature classes in small groups. We had special guests such as Jeff Coffin, JD Blair, Jenny Hoeft, Rod McGaha, Regi Wooten, Joseph Wooten, Rudy Wooten, Casey Driessen, and Joe Craven. There was time to jam with each other late into each night, while the morning activities started around 7:00 a.m. and consisted of an exercise routine such as Yoga, Wing Chun, or Tai Chi. We made primitive fire through friction, learned how to meditate in nature, and did a lot of blindfolded exercises designed to heighten our senses. The entire week culminated with a giant Saturday night performance in which each student performed with the house band made up of some accomplished Nashville musicians.
All of this was made possible with the help of an amazing staff of dedicated people. Holly Wooten, Victor’s wife, made the whole camp run smoothly. Chuck Rainey, a bass legend, was one of our teachers and our resident elder for the week. Steve Bailey, Eric Struthers, Bob Hemenger, Richard Cleveland, and Dave Welsch added their talents and humor as well. The plethora of special guest musicians was icing on the cake.
For me, the most profound lesson of the week was that of listening. It permeated everything that we did. Again and again, whether it was a rhythm exercise, dynamics lesson, or group performance, it all came down to listening. When I finally learned how to quiet myself, listen fully, and be “in the moment,” the quality of my musical contributions became greater and I became a much better Musician for it. I now firmly believe that listening, as well as opening up all of the senses, is the key to playing great music.
Check out Victor’s website at www.victorwooten.com and see for yourself all of the cool stuff that he is doing. Go to one of his concerts, clinics, or camps and I promise that you will forever be changed. My life has been positively affected by the Music and Nature Camp experience and I sincerely hope that you will participate in something like this very soon.
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