Grammy winner Victor Wooten to teach freshmen how to rock out together

Look for something completely different at New Student Orientation this year. Grammy Award winner Victor Wooten has been added to an already star-studded week to teach freshmen about community building and experiential learning.

Jason Scragz/Creative Commons Victor Wooten

At NSO, Victor Wooten and his collaborators will help freshmen explore the concept of community through experiential learning.

New Student Orientation (NSO) is always an exciting time, but this year has particularly strong star power.

In addition to authors Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Fadiman and Tracy Kidder participating in the Three Books program, Grammy Award-winning bassist and composer Victor Wooten has been added to the NSO lineup in a program sponsored by Residential Education. NSO officially begins Sept. 14.

Wooten has won five Grammy awards, has been named "Bass Player of the Year" by Bass Player magazine three times and has performed with such well-known musicians as the Dave Matthews Band.

The new program, "Learning In and Through Community," will be held Friday of NSO in Frost Amphitheater. According to Rod Taylor, lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and resident fellow in Robinson Hall, Wooten and his collaborators will use music to help freshmen explore the concept of community through experiential learning.

Last May, Taylor hosted Wooten for a "How I Write" Conversation held in Roble Hall and sponsored by Residential Education and the Hume Writing Center. Wooten and his band also performed at White Plaza through the Stanford Concert Network. This time, however, he will be doing something more interactive.

New freshmen will be invited to participate in music activities with Wooten and members of his band. The workshops will introduce the students to how learning can occur in different settings and suggest that resident communities are environments that can broaden knowledge, understanding and experiences.

Taylor said Wooten's experience in educating through music has included running a music and nature camp in Nashville and traveling worldwide to give workshops on music and learning. In 2008 he published a novel, The Music Lesson, which has recently been released in audio form.

"This novel is a story about the strange and unorthodox journey a young musician striving for success must take in order to learn how experiences and communities outside of formal learning offer equally productive training in music," Taylor said.

Taylor, a bass player himself, helped bring Wooten back to campus for NSO. During Wooten's initial visit in May, Taylor introduced him to Deborah Golder, associate vice provost and dean of residential education, and Jenn Calvert, associate dean of residential education. Wooten shared his ideas on learning and growth through music.

"Victor and I have been friends for a long time, and I have marveled at his ability to teach life lessons through music," said Taylor. "Victor's method of teaching through music centers on observing, listening and actively learning from those within your community."

Taylor said he hopes that "Learning In and Through Community" will help students see that learning occurs outside as well as within the classroom at Stanford.

"Our communities in life can and should function as part of a lifelong learning process," he said. "And at Stanford, learning can and should occur through the relationships we establish in our residential communities."

In the evening following the event, Wooten will once again take to the stage to perform for the New Student Party. He will be accompanied by renowned fretless bassist Steve Bailey, saxophonist Bob Hemenger, and drummer JD Blair. Both morning and evening events are for freshmen only.

NSO officially begins on Tuesday, Sept. 14. According to Edith Wu-Nguyen, director of New Student Programs, Stanford is expecting 1,678 freshmen and 20 transfers this year.

Sam Julian is an intern with University Communications.