Featured Alumni – Cooper Schlegel

A recent post quoted Victor Wooten’s mama via his website: “What does the world need with just another good musician? We have plenty. What the world needs are good people!”  – I can say with confidence that Cooper Schlegel  is one of those good people, (and a good musician too!) I’m truly grateful to know him as a person and musician, and know I can speak for everyone involved with the conference, when I say, we look forward to welcoming Cooper back to Madison and to RDYB as an alumni Clinician this year! 

Since recently graduating UW Madison (as one of Richard’s last bass students before retirement) Cooper has, since moved back to Washington State and is carving out his place in the scene in Olympia. He is actively performing, composing music, and maintains a uniquely creative radio show. 

Many of you may know Cooper from his work with the Richard Davis Young Bassists’ (RDYB) Sibling Ensemble. The comedy act about the bus driver… the percussion toys… Last year, after the sibling band’s last piece, “Don’t Give Up”, there was not a dry eye in the audience. If you saw that performance- you know what I mean. I will never forget Cooper’s senior recital – a similar experience. The intensity of feeling in reaction to the vulnerability and honesty of a (semi-autobiographical) duo performance art work explored a depth of emotion that only art can. I think that pretty much sums Cooper up better than I, or any traditional musician bio can really say.

Alumni Clinician - Cooper Schlegel




Help set Richard’s legacy in stone – Literally.

Go-Fund Me Campaign – Historical Marker on Richard Davis Lane 

Many will join me in saying that knowing Richard, through his teaching or otherwise, has left an impression on our lives. Help make his impact known for generations to come by contributing to an historical marker being placed on newly dedicated Richard Davis Lane, in Madison, WI. The street is brand new in the Darbo Neighborhood on the East Side of Madison, WI. Read the full story by the Capital City Hues:  “Street named in Richard Davis’ Honor – Full Story 

Richard Davis Lane Unveiling

This is a photo of Wilder Dietz, former student of Richard’s and neighborhood association member, unveiling the official Richard Davis Lane Street Sign at Overture Center’s Tribute to Richard Davis in Oct. 2018 – Photo by Amadou Kromah


Pre-Bass Conference Bass Concert Opportunity

On Thursday, April 18th – the eve of 26th annual Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists Conference (RDYB) – the Victor Wooten Band & the Wooten Woods Experience will be playing at the Wisconsin Union Theater – just down the block from the Pyle & Lowell Centers on Langdon St. If you’re in town that night, it’s a bass featuring show not-to-be-missed! In addition, our friends at the Wisconsin Union Theater have arranged a pre-show meet and greet with Mr. Wooten and his band, as well as discounted tickets available to all conference young bassists, volunteers and their families. Tickets are on sale now, and details & discount code will be provided through your young bassist’s RDYB conference registration confirmation email. 

Concert featuring the bass

Victor Wooten Band & Woods Experience Concert @ the WI Union Theater April 18, 2019 – Discount Tickets for RDYB Students

This show is unique in that, in addition to Mr. Wooten and his band, it will feature a group of students in a performance based on the music and nature programs at the Victor Wooten Center for Music & Nature – known as the Wooten Woods Experience Tour (read more at No Treble).

Wooten grew up in a musical family and performed widely with his five brothers as a youngster. He is today probably most commonly known as a virtuoso bassist and 5-time Grammy Award winner, and founding member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. He has won every major bass award and was voted by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2011 to be one of the “top ten bassists of all time.” He has recorded with artists such as Prince, Chick Corea, Bootsy Collins, Branford Marsalis, and many more. His solo-track album “A Show of Hands” is considered one of the most important bass records of all time.

His innovative bass style and approach to music have inspired thousands of learners, and as with Richard Davis, the power of music to bring people together is a major theme for Victor. Leadership in musical education is a natural extension of his family culture, where his mother would tell her boys, “What does the world need with just another good musician? We have plenty. What the world needs are good people!” (Mama Wooten Quote on the Victor Wooten homepage, https://www.victorwooten.com/bio)

In 2000 he established his first Bass/Nature Camp, which has since grown into the Victor Wooten Center for Music & Nature. Like Richard Davis, Wooten resonates with the potential for personal growth and connection – for becoming better, more inclusive, people – through music. From his musical commencement speech at the University of Vermont, Burlington, in June 2016:

“I always felt that music is a good way to address the world’s issues. The best bands I’ve ever played in all the instruments were different. We don’t curse those differences. We bless them. That’s why I think the whole world should learn to play music. Then we might understand that differences are a blessing, not a curse.” (https://speakola.com/grad/victor-wooten-university-of-vermont-rubenstein-2017)

His 2008 book, The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music, has become essential reading for musicians everywhere.

To explore the wonderment of Victor Wooten, visit his YouTube channel .


So come to the show on April 18th, then bring all of that fresh inspiration with you to the 2019 RDYB Conference!

Written by Diana Wheeler 

2019 Featured Alumni

This year Paul Kowert will be featured as a distinguished alumni for the Richard Davis Foundation’s 26th annual bass conference. We are very pleased that he can make it back!

Paul Kowert – 2019 Featured Alumni

Paul Kowert grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. Upon graduating from The Curtis Institute of Music in 2009, he joined the band Punch Brothers and moved to Brooklyn, NY. Since then they have made three albums, contributed music to “The Hunger Games,” “This is Forty,” and “Inside Llewyn Davis,” appeared on Austin City Limits and the Coen Brothers’ concert documentary “Another Day, Another Time,” and various other fun things.

In addition to playing with Punch Brothers, Paul has toured and recorded with Mike Marshall’s Big Trio, David Rawlings, and Hawktail. In recent years, he has been a frequent band member on the radio show “Live From Here.” Paul lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Video clip of Unless, the debut album from Hawktail, Paul’s band with Jordan Tice, Brittany Haas and Dominick Leslie.

Get to know Paul & what he’s listening to more thought his curated Spotify playlist, “Picker’s Primer.” 


It’s no secret!


the Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists Inc. is a great place to…

  • challenge yourself to learn  new style of music, new ways of playing, new ways of thinking 
  • meet new friends, teachers, mentors
  • enjoy a weekend with your family 
  • see and make wonderful music

RDYB Celebrates 25 Years

As Professor of Bass, Ricard Davis saw, first-hand, how young bassists were arriving at their college auditions less prepared, less advanced, and not competitive for scholarships, than their upper string peers. In 1993, Richard Davis set out on a mission to change that. 

Not accepting the status quo situation, Richard started the foundation to better prepare bassists for entrance into university music schools. What started out in his own basement, as a weekly get-together and small-ensemble coaching session for eager young players, has grown to a 15+ faculty group that welcomes numerous young players each year.

Although the group may have grown in size, the spirit and mission remain the same. 

We have some special things planned for the 2018 Bass Conference: 

To celebrate the 25 years of Richard’s efforts, volunteer executive directors, faculty performance and teaching, student learning, and family bonding

New FILM !

The Rosalind & Alfred Berger Foundation has donated funds exclusively to preserve this moment in history by making a short documentary film. The film will be cataloguing oral histories from bass conference family and friends to capture the impact of the Richard Davis Foundation, and Richard’s teaching legacy.

LIBRARY Archive & Exhibit Feature

Mills Music Library and Memorial Library are partnering with RDYB to present a special exhibit for the month of March. This exhibit digs into the archives to peek back at the last 25 years (or more!) of great bass connections in Madison, WI. You’ll have to see for yourself. Open during normal library hours. 


TBD ! follow on facebook to stay up to date

GREAT location for faculty concert 

Literally ! Our Friday night concert is at Memorial Union’s (800 Langdon St.) Great Hall this year ! “A Concert for Richard”, the conference faculty concert will be on: Friday, March 30 @ 7pm. This concert is free for conference attendees and donors, and a number of tickets will be available to the general public. Reserve yours today – Buy Tickets! 

Save the Date! 25th Annual Richard Davis Young Bassists Conference

2018 Conference Dates  – 25th Annual Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists, Inc.

March 30 & 31, 2018

Registration opening soon.

Same time, same place ! See you then!

2017 Conference Recap

Sometimes students and their parents submit information about their participation into their local town newspaper. This letter has been used as a start for families who are interested in sharing the exciting news about their young bassist’s participation in the 24th Annual Richard Davis Foundation Conference: 2017 Student Participation Press Release letter form.

RDYB’s First Ever Teacher Education Class

Calling all teachers interested in learning more about the bass !

The Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists Inc. is hosting for the first time ever an opportunity for educators to earn graduate credit by attending the annual bass conference.

This course offering grew out of a presentation at the WI state music educator’s conference two years ago, where RDYB alumni Ben Ferris assembled a panel of ‘bass experts’ including Richard Davis to answer questions of public school teachers related to the bass. Despite it being the first session of the day (7 am on a Friday) the panel discussion was packed to standing room only. Teachers had a lot of questions about the bass ! The Wisconsin Center for Music Education and Wisconsin School Music Association wanted to continue offering this opportunity for their member teachers and thought of the Richard Davis Foundation as the perfect venue for the class.

The fact that for many young people, their primary means of music education at an early age is through their public school, combined with the frequent situation where their orchestra or band director does not have a large knowledge of bass pedagogy or instrument set ups usually puts young bass players in a school group at a disadvantage, overcome in later years as they find a private lesson teacher or go to college. Giving teachers the knowledge and tools to set their young bass players on the right track is right in line with the mission of the Richard Davis Foundation.

Long before the idea of adding on a graduate course to the annual conference for young bassists was even an idea, Richard Davis regularly did run-out calls at the request of teachers who were at a loss for how to bring their struggling bass players up to speed with the rest of their orchestra. School teachers have also informally participated in the bass conference to watch their students or to learn more about the bass in years past, despite there not being any set aside curriculum for them.

For this new offering, curriculum developed by RDYB alumna, Liz Clawson will be used for a class taught by John Kennedy. Kennedy, similar to Ferris, has taught courses in his home state of Michigan, where he is a member of the ASTA and MSBOA. A public school teacher himself in addition to an accomplished bassist, Kennedy is no stranger to the challenges of teaching bass in the public school, and therefore is a natural fit to lead the first RDYB for teachers course this spring.

The course will parallel the young bassists program and is therefore being held on the same weekend, same time and place as the young bassists conference (April 14-15, 2017). The course’s curriculum will include a mix of playing, teaching, Q&A, observing and reflecting.

Registration is now open and is available to both prospective teachers (college students) and to current teachers. The course is only asking for a donation (suggested $250 or $100) and will be a separate fee from the enrollment fees for graduate credits. A representative of the WI Center for Music Education will be a the conference to enroll teachers in graduate credit if they want that.

Questions can be directed to Catherine Harris, Executive Director at rdbassconference@gmail.com .