Analog – At Home – Bass !

This year, the annual bass conference will look a bit different. 

How it works: young bassists age 3-18, sign up by March 22. We will mail you a special bass box to guide you through this year’s conference. Your box has been created by RDYB clinicians – it will have all kinds of fun & goodies in it.

By registering, you will also get invited to the virtual components of the conference, which will include 5 elective meet ups for debriefing on the box activities & contents. 

A very special part of this year’s conference (for anyone, whether participating as a young bassist or not) is a World Premiere of a new piece by Rufus Reid, commissioned specially for the RDYB Family. 

Dates: We will not be meeting in person on Easter weekend as usual, but instead be kicking off the conference with an orientation zoom meeting FRIDAY APRIL 2, 2021 @ 6.30PM CT. 

Other important dates for the elective meet-up/debriefs are: 

Kickoff – Friday April 2, 2021 6.30 PM CT 
April 8 – Thursday @ 6.30 PM CT
April 15 – Thursday @ 6.30 PM CT
April 22 – Thursday @ 6.30 PM CT
April 29 – Thursday @ 6.30 PM CT

Cost: Name your price. We get that this past year has been difficult for many. We suggest a donation of $50 to cover costs. If you are able to give more, we welcome that too, but it is not required. The Foundation is a 501c(3) nonprofit, any donations over $50 will be considered a tax-deductible charitable donation.

Communications: most of the activities in the box can be experienced away from a screen (woo!), but, given that we’re spread out all over, and still want to share community with each other, as well as have faculty available for direct communication with young bassists and their families, there will be a virtual component happening on Zoom. For the full experience, we encourage participation, but at the same time, we get it if you’ve already been on too many Zoom/Google Meets for the day. 

Limited Supply: there are only 50 boxes available. Registrations will be accepted in the order in which they are received – first come basis.   Register early to reserve your spot. 

Limited Shipping: Because of timing, cost, and logistics, we will only be sending out boxes within the continental US. Registrations received after March 22, 2021 will not receive a box. 

Advance registration required, MUST be received by March 22.  

Register HereRDYB Logo

April 2020 Bass Conference Canceled: University COVID-19

To the whole extended RDYB Family: 

Unfortunately the April 2020 Richard Davis Foundation Bass Conference is canceled. 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced  that it will be suspending all in person teaching through April 10, at a minimum due to the COVID19 coronavirus pandemic. This will also impact the conference centers for all events. The Pyle center has been an amazing host to us bassists year after year and we’re so grateful that they have let us know about this announcement and policy as soon as they could.
Furthermore, local school districts have been canceling out-of-state travel and recommending staying home for spring break. I expect many young bassists’ schools will be doing something similar in the coming days if not already. 
I’m still waiting on details for what that fully means (will it be rescheduled? can we get hotels at Lowell refunded? etc., I don’t know yet) and I’m just not sure at this point – most likely we’ll just have to wait till next year because of the way their booking works and the many moving pieces that it takes to put this all-volunteer run event on. 
I can say at a minimum, that I will do everything I can to work with families to extend a full refund of tuition payments. 
I remember once coming in to a bass lesson fully soaked and late (eek!) from the busses being all off schedule in a thunderstorm. Afraid that Richard would be mad, I came in so apologetically, and Richard just said, well if there’s one thing we can’t control, it’s the weather. How simple and true. The same can probably be said about this situation in a way. Looking out for the safety, health and well-being of each other  is most important above all. 
Stay well & best wishes. 
-Catherine Harris
executive director 


Letter from a Parent of a Young Bassist

This says it all – Received from a parent of a young bassist April 26, 2019. (This letter was edited to remove students names.)


Dear Richard Davis Bass Conference Clinicians, Organizers and Participants,

We are completely humbled and honored by our experience at the 26th Richard Davis Bass Conference. Our kids, the youngest bassist and cellist in the siblings band, have no idea how lucky they were to be able to taught and mentored by such talented musicians! As parents, our hearts grew ten fold, while we listened all of the thoughtful advice that our kids received. What a lucky draw that we stumbled upon this conference on the internet! Richard’s vision of a supportive community shone through each and every minute of the conference. What an honor to have been able to be part of it!

Our experience started with an intimate conversation with Victor Wooten. As parents, we want to be just like Victor’s mom. She told her sons that the world is already full of great musicians, but that what the world really needs is more nice people! Victor, Steve and Dave talked at length how important it is to be a team player and have a good personality and how those can be the determining factors when bands and groups are looking for new musicians. Another great advice from Victor was that in life you will have a disadvantage if you do not know how to read and write. The same goes for musicians, if you do not know how to read and write music, you will be at a disadvantage.

When Peter opened the Faculty Concert with O Cantador, we got goose bumps all over. Paul’s Patrick Henry blew our minds! Paul has such a unique, almost lyrical way of playing the bass. He is a great addition to the faculty and we hope to see one of his groups play soon! The Faculty concert was one of the best we’ve ever heard. So many talented musicians. So many styles of music and ways of playing the bass. The last song, Misterioso, with all of the Clinicians was the highlight of the concert. Thank you for such a wonderful treat!

Our son had the opportunity to play in the Chamber Ensemble with Dan Chmielinksi. Dan was so good with the students! He prompted and guided the students to create the bass line, melody and the counter melody. Then the ensemble arranged the piece, practiced it and performed it at the student concert. This was our son’s favorite part of the conference. We think that Dan has everything going for himself and look forward to following his career!

Ah, how lucky are all of Ben Ferris’s students! He shone on stage with the Bass Orchestra! Thank you Ben for uplifting the students. They sounded great! We loved the varied songs of the Bass Orchestra. It was so much fun to listen to jazz, classical and tango music at the student’s concert!

We loved the bass conference and can’t wait to come back next year! Let’s stay in touch! And what will we ask our kids to do until we see you, we will ask them to do as Richard tells us to do… PRACTICE!

Kind Regards,

The Family of a Young Bassist 

2019 Student Recital FAQ


What exactly is a recital?

Recital Definition

At the Richard Davis Young Bassists’ Conference, recital is usually given solo or with piano accompaniment. Our wonderful accompanist, Beth Wilson is a highly in-demand professional pianist in the Madison area who has been accompanying bassists for over 25 years (Ps. Her own son is a bassist too!). 

Who will be there watching?

Your peers, family members, will be there, and some RDYB Faculty will be there too, listening to the recitals, writing personalized comments for each soloist to help them in their bass playing development. 

What if I’m nervous? 

Being nervous is natural. Remember that we are all here to support each other and learn. There are lots of bassists around all weekend who have been nervous before too – find someone and ask them how they overcome or control nervous feelings. 

What if I’m not in a recital? 

You have the opportunity to listen to your peers. This is a great chance to see great bass playing up close, and to hear/learn about new music that you might be interested in learning and playing.  

What time are the recitals? 

This year, recitals will be at 11am on Friday and 11am on Saturday. See how recitals fit into the rest of the weekend’s activities by looking at a past year’s schedule. Your personalized schedule that you get when you check in Friday Morning will look something like this.  

Will I have a chance to practice with the piano part before the performance? 

Yes! You will arrange a time sometime before 11.00 on the day of your recital with the accompanist. We will introduce everyone to all of the conference faculty, including Beth, Friday morning in our welcome meeting (9am!). 

Full 2019 Recital Schedule


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,

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.” (

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