[photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images]
Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea holds a very strong opinion in regards to removing music education from schools. The bassist sat down with Rolling Stone to give his thoughts on politicians looking to cut funding for such programs, stating: “It's child abuse. It's just plain wrong.”
Check out what else he has to say on the matter and what he's doing to keep music education in schools.
Back in 2000, Flea returned to his old stomping grounds at Fairfax Senior High School to give a talk when he realized the music room had no instruments. Flea tells Rolling Stone, “They had maybe one or two acoustic guitars, a boombox, a volunteer teacher, and they were sitting around talking about music. I was so disheartened. I was like, 'Where's the orchestra? Where's the band?' And I was told they cut out all the funding for that stuff. They didn't have instruments for the teachers anymore. It really shocked me.”
Flea wasn't about to take such a problem sitting down, so in 2001 he cofounded the Silverlake Conservatory of Music with some friends, a nonprofit school that recently expanded into an even bigger space this past year. The school offers private music lessons alongside ensemble classes, with qualifying students receiving free instruments and lessons.
Originally the school was funded by Flea himself, but he has since started holding fundraisers to help pay for it all. This year's fundraising show will be held Sept 9, and includes performances from Randy Newman, Anderson .Paak, and of course, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“We play it almost every year. This year we're going to play acoustic and we're going to be joined by the children's choir from the school.”
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This is the first year the school will be able to host the show in their own space, with no need to rent out a venue like in years past.
“From years and years of doing the fundraisers, we finally bought a building and we have a really beautiful, big space now,” Flea tells Rolling Stone. “It has 12 private-lesson rooms, four classrooms, a big performance space, and we have about 800 kids that come through. Everyone that comes will be able to see the school, get a feel for what's going on and be a part of it.”
Flea doesn't plan to stop there. His team has recently begun looking at other locations around LA to open even more schools. “This summer, I started a new school in the projects of Watts. We started it by having a free music summer program, which just ended, and it was really, really beautiful and successful. So I'm looking for a building down there.”
Fueling the bassist's fire to continue his project stems from watching the Trump Administration propose cuts to arts funding. “I worry about a lot of things that that guy says, but that affects my worldview personally. It's not just music, but the arts in general – wanting to cut the NEA.”
Flea encourages others to get involved, hoping to fight these cuts by starting at the community-level.
“You really see the results, which is awesome,” he says. “I encourage everybody to reach out into the communities they live in and do what they can to help out. There are people that don't have money, people that don't have food or an education or healthcare. And yes, getting to change things on a fundamental, institutional level is an awesome thing, but we can personally reach out in our communities to do stuff that is profoundly helpful.”
Has your school had to make some cuts on their Music Education programs? Let us know in the comments below.