“My whole life has been music. I could not imagine anything else,” Van Halen told CNN Tuesday. “It’s a must. It has to be taught.” The foundation doles out nearly 1,800 instruments annually to schools without music programs, which helps provide music education to over 10,000 students.
“It was very difficult at first to find a charity that [takes guitars],” Van Halen said. “They all just wanted money.” CNN’s John Vause noted there are dozens of kids out there learning to play guitar, not knowing the instrument previously belonged to one of the greatest guitarists ever.
For Van Halen, the desire to cultivate music education stems from his own high school experience. “It really hit me when I graduated high school, you sign everybody’s yearbook and everybody asks you, ‘So what college are you going to?’ Uh … ‘Hey [brother Alex Van Halen], I think we better stick to what we know,'” the guitarist said.
“Our goal is to give kids every tool they can possibly have to succeed. Music is the common denominator,” the foundation’s president and CEO Felice Mancini added. “You put a kid in a music class and it builds community, communication and they find a place. It’s a safe haven.”