Legendary rock and roll musician Eddie Van Halen often asks himself a common question: What would the world be like without music? According to an interview with CNN, Van Halen credits music for keeping him (mostly) in check and out of trouble all throughout school, and he can't bear to live in a world without the same opportunity for all kids. "It's a must," Eddie told CNN's John Vause, "it has to be taught."
Among today's common reports of budget cutbacks for public schools, music and arts programs are usually the first to go; Eddie Van Halen does his part to keep them alive. In one instance from several years ago, he donated 75 of his personal guitars to public school kids through the nonprofit organization Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation. According to the charity's president, Felice Mancini, "It's the gift that keeps on giving. The kids share the guitars, they learn, they graduate, and then the instruments stay in the school."
Today, the Opus Foundation delivers 1,800 instruments each year to impoverished public schools. Collectively, the organization provides more than 10,000 children with a musical education. Usually, the program consists of donated violins, saxophones, and other unwanted instruments. However, occasional guitar donations from rock gods, like Eddie, are very much appreciated.
Like many musicians from all eras, Van Halen agrees that music is a very important aspect of a fulfilling lifestyle. "My whole life has been music," he told Vause. "I could not imagine anything else." According to a study compiled by the NAMM foundation, children who are frequently exposed to music and instruments get better grades, have higher IQs and have lower chances of drug and alcohol abuse later in life. Van Halen himself is no different.
Eddie learned to play piano when he was six years old, formed his first band with his brother, Alex, in grade school, and went on to to rank eighth on Rolling Stone's list of the greatest guitarists of all-time. In addition, the famous rocker's self-titled band Van Halen has had albums go diamond or platinum countless times.
When asked why he cares about music education for young children he explained, "Music is such a necessity. It touches people's souls. Music is the universal language ... It transcends everything."