Music as a Language

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Victor Wooten: Musical Badass

Although not spoken by all, it is sure understood by all. Music is one of the few languages that transcends all continents, and all types of people without much getting lost in translation. It is a form of communication that can more easily influence emotions of all people without a single word spoken, bridging the gap that verbal communication leaves. Award winning bassist Victor Wooten posted a five-minute video, via the popular “Ted Talks” channel, explaining his thoughts on this topic, comparing and contrasting music to verbal language in the way we teach, practice and learn the art. This short video left a heavy impact on my views on literacy due to the comparison of my two most fluent languages, and how just by treating music as we treat verbal communication could result in a revolutionary effect on how music everywhere is taught, and could speed up the process so we can excel in music at the same rate we learn to excel in spoken word.

To start, Wooten explains how music is taught currently. Many students, myself included, were taught under the strict regiment of an already experienced instructor. At most, the student would be sent away to learn with this instructor not more then a few times a week. We are given strict rules to follow while being told every step of the way of how and what to play. He also explains how we treat mistakes like a plague and in turn cause fear of mistakes or wrong notes. Wooten radically rejects this idea of teaching, pointing out that most musicians would agree that music is a language and a form of communication while only a slim number of musicians, and even fewer educators in the field treat music as the form of communication it truly is, opening people’s eyes to a whole new world of how to think and teach music. Time and time again would my band director try to explain the emotion the works we play were attempting to get across not realizing his own hypocrisy that he taught in terms of...
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