CRYSTAL LAKE – Anthony Wellington has performed in front of tens of thousands on stages across the world with some of the best musicians.
But on Thursday, a music classroom in Crystal Lake Central High School was his stage and a handful of students served as the audience.
The world-class bassist conducted a private master class for music students, discussing the music theories and techniques that landed him in bands along side Grammy winners such as Victor Wooten and solidified him as one of the most in-demand instructors in the country.
"I think great classrooms bring in outside people," said Keith Levin, director of bands at Crystal Lake Central. "It's a huge opportunity for the students to gain from the knowledge and experiences of a professional musician."
Wellington went from never thinking he would be a teacher to realizing he is as passionate about it as he is about music. He not only taught three classes at Crystal Lake Central on Thursday, he immediately did a private Skype lesson with a student in Arizona following his classes and then drove to Northbrook to help a local band rehearse.
Even when he is touring on the road, Wellington said he does everything he can to teach lessons and hold clinics.
"I wanted to be a rock star. I hadn't thought about teaching ... but I discovered I had the patience for it," Wellington said. "It's what I enjoy doing the most now. I consider myself a teacher first."
In 2006, Wellington launched Bassology – an educational institution in Maryland where he teaches bass, keyboard, music theory and production to roughly 90 students per week. It has become so well-known he also offers weekly lessons to students around the world through Skype.
He also regularly teaches at music centers such as Bass Specialties, Inspire Music and the Victor Wooten Center for Music & Nature.
Through his teaching experience, Wellington said it is clear young students are more musically advanced than his generation was at their age. When hip-hop and rap became popular, he said there was a fear less children would pick up instruments, but the opposite happened.
Coupled with the amount of access the Internet provides, Wellington said music knowledge and innovation will continue to grow.
"All the information and music you could want is out there on the Internet, but information is not teaching," Wellington said. "It's my job to present the information in a way each student can understand. That's what I love doing."