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Keith Urban: Cutting School Music Programs Is ‘Shocking’ and ‘Scary’

keith urban school music programs music education
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

Keith Urban is a well-known supporter of music education, and on April 5, he’ll receive a monumental award at the 2017 Grammys on the Hill ceremony in Washington, D.C. He’s voicing his support for school music programs at a time when many are on the chopping block.

Urban will receive the Recording Artists’ Coalition Award, an honor awarded by the Recording Academy to artists and legislators who are exceptional advocates for enhancing music programs in American schools.

“Music education is something that’s marginalized very quickly,” Urban says in a recent interview with Rolling Stone Country. “It’s seen as something that can be done away with quickly, without having too much of an adverse affect on the child. People think it’s academics that’s important. They think it’s athletics that’s important. But I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those music programs in Australia. My family moved around a lot, but every public school always had a music room. There was always a music teacher.”

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The Australian-born Urban has created a line of affordable guitars and provided thousands of instruments to underprivileged youth across America.

In an interview with the Associated Press about his guitar line, Urban notes, “I want as many people to discover they can play guitar as possible. … There’s any amount of people that might have a hidden talent for it or a passion for it that don’t have the access to the instrument. Kids particularly.”

The Grammy Award winner is also known for bringing youngsters onstage to jam with him, hoping to gift a self-esteem building moment he believes music provides.

“I had it pretty lucky, growing up in a public school where a basic music class was part of the curriculum,” Urban tells Rolling Stone Country. “Our music teacher was Mrs. Grimmer, and when kids at lunchtime would go down to the oval and kick a ball around, I’d go to the music room and mess around on the guitar. I took it for granted until all these years later, where I’m looking at schools that do away with music programs quickly, because it’s seen to be the easiest thing to get rid of. I find that shocking. I’ve met so many kids over the years that use music to communicate. It’s where they get their self-esteem from. To just do away with that is scary to me.”

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