Flea Compares Music Education Funding Cuts to ‘Child Abuse’

"The only reason I even went to school was because I liked playing in the band."

By Annie Reuter

When he was in growing up, band class was all Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea looked forward to. And music prevented him from getting in serious trouble. That’s why he’s so passionate about supporting programs that encourage kids interested in music, and so angry at politicians that want to cut funding for music education. “It’s child abuse,” he said in a recent interview “It’s just wrong.”

Related: Flea Shuts Down Red Hot Chili Peppers Retirement Rumors

Flea elaborated on how powerful music classes were in keeping him motivated to stay in school. “When I was a kid, I was heading for trouble,” he told Rolling Stone. “I was running around in the street, I was robbing, I was breaking into houses, I was doing drugs. I was cutting class and smoking weed – just headed to trouble. And the one thing that kept me together and kept me straight was music. The only reason I even went to school was because I liked playing in the band.”

When he returned to his alma mater in 2000, he was shocked to find the music classroom at Fairfax Senior High School had no instruments and that funding was cut for music education. A year later, Flea co-founded the Silverlake Conservatory of Music with friends. The Los Angeles location now offers private music lessons for orchestral and band instruments alongside ensemble classes as well as gives free lessons and instruments to students in need.

Part of the funding for the school comes from an annual fundraiser Flea hosts each year. On September 9, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Randy Newman and Anderson .Paak are scheduled to perform.

“We play it almost every year,” Flea says. “This year we’re going to play acoustic and we’re going to be joined by the children’s choir from the school. I love [Anderson .Paak’s] record, Malibu,. I got the album a year-and-a-half ago and it really blew me away. It’s still high on my playlist. And Randy Newman’s new record is great, too. Just being a Lakers fan alone means you have to love Randy Newman, but what a great, great songwriter and important part of American music culture he is. He’s just a beautiful man.”

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