Victor Wooten’s life lessons

Photo: L.A. Cicero

Victor Wooten, foreground, had more than music to share with the freshmen of the Class of 2014. On Friday, Sept. 17, Wooten and his band held an interactive program titled “Learning In and Through Community” at Frost Amphitheater before a crowd of several hundred freshmen.

The five-time Grammy Award winner was joined on stage by renowned bassist Steve Bailey, drummer JD Blair and saxophonist Bob Hemenger. PWR lecturer ROD TAYLOR, a bassist himself and a personal friend to Wooten, also joined the musicians on stage.

Although the band would perform for students later that night, this time Wooten had a more practical message to send to new freshmen.

“The key to success is to become a good listener,” he said.

Wooten and company used musical activities to explore the meaning of residential community and how learning can happen spontaneously. To exemplify this, they invited LEMIECE ZARKA, a freshman who had never played bass guitar before, to play on stage while the band accompanied her. Afterward, Zarka was given the bass guitar.

Freshman MATT WEBER was chosen for the program’s main exercise. Weber was asked to play bass while wearing objects that represented “baggage” in his life: a cape that represented the weight of his achievements; a chain for his responsibilities; strings representing the family and friends he left back home were attached to his hands and pulled by volunteers.

“Most of this baggage we will never get over,” said Wooten to the audience. “The key is learning to deal with it. You can carry that stuff with you or you can leave it behind.”

For his participation, Weber was given a fretless bass guitar.

“Sometimes the baggage has a payoff at the end,” said Bailey.

The band ended the program with a funk breakdown of “All Right Now.” That night they performed a full concert at Frost for the Class of 2014 New Student Party.

—Sam Julian