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Thank you very much.
It's true I was born into a band;
very literally, I mean that literally.
When I was born, my four older brothers who were already playing music,
knew that they needed a bass player
to round out the family band.
I was born into that role.
As I'm older I'm looking back right now, now that I'm called a teacher.
When I look back on that, and how I was taught,
I realized that I wasn't really taught.
Which is why I say that music is a language;
because if you think about your first language,
for me, and probably most of us here might be English,
so I'm just going to go with English.
If you think about how you learned it, you realize you weren't taught it.
People just spoke to you.
But the coolest thing is where it gets interesting
because you were allowed to speak back.
If I take the music example,
in most cases, our beginners are not allowed to play with the better people.
You're stuck in the beginning class.
You have to remain there a few years,
until you are elevated to the intermediate, and then advanced;
and after you graduate the advanced class,
you still have to go out and pay a lot of dues.
But with language,
to use a musical term, even as a baby you're "jamming" with professionals.
All the time.
To the point that you don't even know you're a beginner.
No one says, "I can't talk to you until-- You got to go over there.
When you're older, then I can speak to you."
That doesn't happen.
No one tells you what you have to say.
You're not made to sit in a corner and practice.
You're never even corrected when you're wrong.
Think about it: when you're 2-3 years old, and you say a word wrong over and over,
no one corrects you.
If you say it wrong enough times,
instead of correcting you, your parents learn your way.
And they start saying it wrong too!
The coolest part of that is that you remain free,
with how you talk.
And so you never have to follow the musical role of learning
all these years and then, going and finding your voice.
With your speaking voice, you've never lost it.
No one ever robbed you of that.
And so, when I was young that's how I was learning;
I was learning English and music at the same time
and in the same way.
So I tell this to people; I usually say, "Yeah, I started when I was two or three."
And I say that just because that's more believable.
But when did you start speaking English?
Did you wait until you were two or three?
You were speaking, I'd probably say, before birth.
Whenever you could hear is when you probably started learning it.
To me, that's very, very cool, and very very clever of my brothers
- my oldest brother, out of the five...
I'm the youngest, Reggie is the oldest -
He's only eight years older than me.
So how he was this smart, I don't know. That's the real question.
That should be the real TED talk.
How he figured out the ingenious way
of not teaching us, younger brothers, how to play!
He didn't start me by putting a bass in my hands.
The first thing they did was to play music around me
from my earliest age that I can remember.
I can remember living in Hawaii,
my brothers would set up, and I can remember seeing a plastic stool.
A lot of times we'd set up in the front yard
where I can see a plastic stool,
with a little plastic toy, Mickey Mouse wind-up-guitar,
laying on top of that stool.
No one had to tell me that that was for me.
The same way no one has to tell you when it's your turn to talk.
You know how to do it and so I knew that stool was for me.
I knew that instrument was for me.
It had plastic strings on it, you would wind it up, and it would play a song.
But you couldn't really play it from the strings, and it wasn't about that.
By the time I was old enough to hold an instrument,
they gave me something to hold Just for the sake of holding something;
preparing me for the later years.
It wasn't about playing that instrument.
That's the mistake a lot of us, music teachers make:
we teach kids how to play the instrument first, before they understand music.
You don't teach a kid how to spell.
Teaching a kid to spell "milk"
before they've been drinking a lot of it for a few years
doesn't make sense does it?
But for some reason, we still think it does in music.
We want to teach them the rules and the instruments first.
But by the time I was about two, and they put that toy in my hands,
I was already very musical because I believe you're born musical.
Just listen to anybody's voice. Listen to any child's voice.
There's no purer music than that.
So my brothers somehow knew I was born musical,
but they wanted me to be a bass player
so when I was old enough, they put a toy in my hands,
and they would play.
I would just bounce up and down and strum along, too.
But the coolest thing about it, again, is it wasn't about the instrument.
I was learning to play music not an instrument.
And I continue that hopefully today.
Again, what I did know was I knew what it meant
when my brother opened up his high hat at the end of a four-bar phrase.
Or I learned these phrases versus that phrase.
The same way a baby knows what it means
when the mother raises the pitch of her voice
versus the father lowering the pitch of his.
You know these things,
and even though you may not even understand what the word means.
And so you're learning all these things.
By the time a baby can speak a real word,
they know already a lot about the language.
So I was learning music the same way.
By the time I had the instrument in my hands, I was already very musical.
When I would turn about three years old,
Reggie took two strings off of one of his six-string guitars.
He took the two high strings off, and that became my first real instrument.
So Reggie actually started teaching me
to put my finger in certain places to produce notes
to songs I already knew.
I wasn't starting from the beginning. I was musical first.
Now, I just had to put that music through an instrument.
And looking back on it now, I realize that's how I learned to talk.
It wasn't about learning the instrument first.
Who cares about the instrument you talk with?
It's about what you have to say.
I've always musically maintained my own voice.
I've always had something to say.
And I've learned how to speak through my instrument.
So if we think about a couple of things
not being forced to practice, not being told what you have to say
- I'm speaking English again - not being told what you have to say.
When the teacher teaches you a new word in English,
she has you put it into a sentence; in the context, right away.
A music teacher will tell you to go practice it.
Practicing works but it's a slower process than putting it into context.
And we know that with English.
And so this was the way I learned.
As I grew older, about five years old, we were actually on tour; the five of us.
We were fortunate enough to be able to tour
opening for a great soul singer named Curtis Mayfield.
So if I was five years old, my oldest brother was only 13.
But when I think about it, we could speak good English at that age.
Why not music?
So I've always, since then, approached music just like a language,
because I learned it at the same time and in the same way.
The best part of it all
is I've maintained something that little children are born with.
And that's freedom.
A lot of us are talked out of our musical freedom,
when we are first given a lesson.
Because we go to a teacher,
and the teacher rarely ever finds out why we came in the first place.
A lot of times, that kid playing that air guitar
where there's no right or wrong,
it's not about the right or wrong notes, it's not about the instrument.
They're playing because it feels right.
It's the same way and reason that you sing in the shower.
Or when you're driving to work; you're singing.
You're not singing because it's the right notes
or you know the right scales,
you're singing because it feels good.
I spoke to a lady at breakfast who said,
"I'm Ella Fitzgerald when I'm in the shower!"
And of course she's right!
So why does that change when someone outside starts to listen?
That freedom becomes lost as we grow and as we learn,
and we need to find a way to keep that freedom.
And it can be done!
It's not gone forever.
A kid playing air guitar will play with a smile on their face.
Give them the first lesson, the smile goes away.
A lot of times you have to work for
your whole musical life to get that smile back.
As teachers, we can keep that smile, if we approach it the right way.
And I say approach it like a language;
allow the student to keep the freedom.
As I got older, a little bit older,
and my brothers and I started to tour and play a lot,
my mom would ask a question that I never understood really
until I got much older and had kids of my own.
My Mom would ask us boys,
and she was saying, "What does the world need
with another good musician?"
Think about that.
And I'm saying music, but insert your own career.
What does the world need with you?
It really made me realize that now, as I've got older,
music is more than just a language, music is a lifestyle.
It's my lifestyle.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not talking about the lifestyle a lot of musicians lead.
Because we can look back at our musical heroes of the past
and realize that they were huge successes in music,
but just as huge failures in life.
I could name a few of them, but I don't want to upset anybody;
but if we think about our heroes, a lot of them were like that.
I think our parents were preparing us for something
that we didn't know at the time, but I think she could see ahead.
"What does the world need
with another good musician?"
So we're practicing all these hours.
We turned our whole house into a music room
where all the neighborhood, all the state-wide musicians would show up.
We would practice,
my parents would spend money they didn't have
to make sure we had the next newest instrument.
Every Christmas, Santa would bring the newest thing.
What was that about?
Was it just so that we could make money?
So that we could stand on stage and bask in the glory?
I realize now, that it is much more than that.
Music is my lifestyle.
And now as I'm going into really studying music,
so that I could share it with other people in a teacher's role,
I realize that there's a lot that we can learn from music
and apply to our lives.
To be a good musician, you have to be a good listener.
Doesn't matter how great I am as a bassist, or any instrument.
Doesn't matter how great I am.
We can put five of the world's best musicians on this stage.
But if we're great separate from each other,
it's going to sound horrible.
But if we listen to each other and play together,
individually, we don't have to be as great,
and it'll sound much better.
I was invited a couple years in a row to go to Stanford, in California,
and put together a musical team to address the incoming freshman class.
And we were able to use music to give them an idea
what the next four years of their life might be like.
It was fun using music to do it because music is a way
that I can talk about anything that could be kind of touchy:
politics, racism, equality, inequality, religion.
I can do it through music, and I'm still safe.
We were able to pick someone out of the audience
who'd never played an instrument before.
Usually, it was a female;
have her come up, we'd strap a bass around her neck,
and then I would get the band playing.
And as soon as the band starts playing,
that person starts doing this.
And I say, "That's music!"
If you listen to that bass, like any instrument in a music store,
when it's sitting there, it doesn't make a sound.
So if you want music to come out of that, you have to put it there.
And that groove that's in your neck, you just have to put it in the instrument.
So I just had her with her left hand squeeze the neck
- because everyone knows how to hold an instrument, that's not new -
squeeze it and then, let your right hand dance, on the string.
She starts bouncing on that note, and the band kicks up around her.
All of a sudden, she's a bassist.
More so, she's a musician.
A dancer never has to ask questions before they dance.
A singer doesn't usually have to ask what key are we in.
Musicians have to ask too many questions.
So what that taught me is that, "Wow!
Because we're great, she doesn't have to know anything."
And all of a sudden, anyone who were to walk into the room and see this band
with this newcomer on stage,
no one would know who was the newcomer.
So that let me know, "Wow!
If I use my greatness in the right way, it can help others rise up quickly."
And the coolest thing about that whole thing in Stanford
is she got to take the bass home!
I saw her recently, she is still a bassist
so that's great.
Listening is a great musical key that we can use for life,
working together, of course, being great to help other people become great.
When people put you up on a pedestal,
don't come off the pedestal acting like you're humble.
Stay up on that pedestal,
because if they put you there that's showing you how high they can see.
Stay there and pull them up.
And they'll grow faster than if you come down.
So we're going to help these people because we're great.
In music, usually, I'm not great until you say I am, anyway.
They say, "He's won all these Grammy's."
I can't win anything without you all.
Another thing my mom always taught us
is, "You boys are already successful.
The rest of the world just doesn't know it yet!"
I didn't understand that then, but I really, really do now.
Really quickly, before I get out of here I just want you to think about this:
If I were to play two notes, Let's say I play a C;
- just want you to use your imagination -
if I play a C and a C-sharp right next to each other,
it'll probably sound like those notes clash;
"Wrong!", "Bad!"
But if I take the C up an octave,
play the C-sharp and the C again.
All of a sudden, it sounds beautiful.
Same two notes.
That C becomes a major seventh to the C-sharp
which is a key element that makes a chord almost too beautiful, too nice sounding.
So how can the same two notes sound bad and clash in one instance
and beautiful in another?
Just take that to life.
When we see something bad, or awful, or horrible in life,
maybe we're just reviewing it in the wrong octave.
Maybe we could change our perspective.
Actually, if you see something that's wrong,
you should know that you're seeing it in the wrong octave
and find a way to change your viewpoint.
Or to use a musical term - change your octave.
Countries make bombs with the goal of hurting people,
instilling fear, killing people, proving a point.
Countries, governments bless the bombs before they're sent.
This happens from the top-down, the government down.
This is our answer.
Makes me realize that the solution may have to come from the bottom-up.
Is anyone working on a bomb that makes people love you?
Maybe a cupid bomb?
I believe we already have it.
It's called Music.
And every country has their own version of it.
And it works. It brings people together.
You don't have to know a thing about it to get it.
It's a language. It's a lifestyle.
And it can save the world.
My name is Victor Wooten. I'm a musician.
And I hope you'll join me on the battlefield.
Thank you.


【TEDx】Music as a Language: Victor Wooten at TEDxGabriolaIsland

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Grace Ku 2016 年 9 月 1 日 に公開
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