to quote Steve Martin, “And the most amazing thing is…”

victor wooten…I get paid for doing this!”

I deliver mail.  I went to art school. Delivering mail is the kind of job a snooty bunch of art punks laughed about when I was in school (like working at a grocery store…or in a warehouse…or at a chicken hatchery…all of which I’m proud to say I’ve done).  We laughed about it because it was a long way from anything creative. It was how the “other people” lived…the ones without the gumption to dig a little deeper and find their “bliss”.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I do while I’m delivering…in addition to giving the mail my full attention like any other good government employee…is listen to audio books. I almost said “books on tape”…but that would date me.  I listen to mp3 audio books that I’ve burned to cd.

It’s a great way to pass the time…a welcome addition to a route that starts to feel pretty familiar after years of making the same circuit in the same order at the same speed.

The book I’m listening to right now is called “The Music Lesson” by Victor Wooten. It’s kind of like a really funky Carlos Castaneda book….the metaphysical lesson of how Victor not only learned to play the bass better…it’s the story of how Victor Wooten learned to play music.  His bass became the medium that he used to release the music inside him.

One of the sections of the book that I’m listening to is about vibrations…how music can affect us physically.  This morning as I write this I’m listening to a NewAge keyboardist named Steven Halpern who talks about making music that is designed to promote healing and inner peace.  I’m drinking my coffee, moving my fingers (people used to complain about Kerouac…”he’s not a writer…he’s a typist!”)…moving my fingers…and listening to healing music on I don’t know if I feel any different…but it’s pleasant.

Anyway…back to Victor Wooten.  This audiobook I’m listening to is the story of his friendship and interaction with a teacher named Michael.  Michael puts him through his paces…lots of questions and illustrations that aren’t always just about playing the bass.

One of the revelations that I loved was the illustration of only being a half step away from being “right”…that if you landed on a note that didn’t sound “right”, you only needed to move up or down the fretboard a half step and you’d be OK again.  What a great revelation…don’t panic, just make a minor adjustment…works in a lot of ways in my life.

I have a couple of decent basses.  I screwed around with playing the bass for years.  At this point in my life, I think I can see that my real skill is maybe in buying instruments…not really in playing them.  This book makes me want to get out my bass and start playing again.

This is an inspiring book if you are a musician…I think this book would be inspirational if you weren’t a musician,too.  Like the lesson of playing music…letting the music come through you and recognizing that the instrument of choice was just a vehicle for the music…we have the opportunity to let our own music come through whatever we are doing at the moment.  There’s room for creativity even in occupations like delivering the mail.  “What we do” doesn’t define us…but “how we do” speaks loudly.  This is what I’m taking away from the book at the moment.

Google Victor Wooten.  Listen to some of his music…read some stuff about him…and then read or listen to this book. He’s probably the funkiest bassist you’ll ever run into…and this book, while not really a traditional “music lesson”, should add to any musician’s knowledge about making music.  It’s an interesting comment on life and creativity by a very talented musician.


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