Eddie Van Halen, the iconic, influential guitarist and co-founder of the band that bears his name, recently made a surprise visit to 27 music students at the L.A. Unified School District’s Foshay Learning Center. The musicians, under the tutelage of Vincent Womack, listened as Van Halen encouraged them to pursue their passion for music by sharing stories about the importance of music in his own life.
“I wasn’t born ‘Eddie Van Halen,’ successful or famous, it took years of dedication and practice, practice, practice,” he said.
Van Halen, in conjunction with the Fender Musical Instruments Company, donated one of his signature EVH 5150lll amplifiers to the class. He also presented each guitar student with a gift bag containing EVH-brand picks, guitar straps, cables, guitar strings, and a key chain. Fender also contributed acoustic guitar strings to the bags.
Van Halen’s visit was partially inspired by his attending a fundraising event for the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, where he was first introduced to Foshay’s Musical Director.
Last year, Van Halen donated 75 electric guitars from his personal collection to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, which distributed the guitars to nine schools throughout Los Angeles County. ”The gift of music is yours, no one can take that away no matter what,” Van Halen said to Womack’s class. ”It is not a rich/poor thing, nor does it discriminate. If you have a love or even a like for music, go after it, pursue it. Music helps lift your self-esteem, it gave me an identity, kept me out of trouble, gave me goals and the desire to improve. It gave me a life. I am an example of what music can do for someone. What it did for me, it can do for you all. Anything is possible.” To learn more, go to foshaylc.org.