DETROIT (WWJ) – Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer and Lahser High School graduate Chad Smith says he’s a prime example of why music education is needed in public schools.

The 51-year-old was part of a group lobbying Congress Tuesday on the importance of music education in the classroom. Smith said he wouldn’t be where he is today if it weren’t for music classes.

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“I’m a prime example of being educated in public schools. I never took any private lessons. From fourth grade on, I started playing the drums and learning how to read and write music through public schools,” he said.

Smith, who was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with his band members in April 2012, said music classes should be mandatory, not an elective.

“I would have never graduated high school if it wasn’t for music. I know it for a fact,” he said. “So there’s more, there’s a higher graduation rate, there’s a higher attendance rate when there’s music in the schools. It keeps kids off the streets and out of trouble.”

Smith said music gives children the building blocks to grow into a successful adult, especially confidence.

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“Being able to play music with other people, there are so many dynamics that go into it. It gives you self-esteem and it’s a really important part of growing up,” he said. “Kids who are exposed to music in school show up to class more, they graduate more and they do better in their studies in other areas.”

Music can also help their love life, Smith said, as he met his first girlfriend in music class.

“This is crazy, I swear to you this is her real name, Julie Clamshell, fifth grade,” he said. “She played the french horn.”

Smith said fighting for music education is something he’ll never stop doing.

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“With the Peppers, we pretty much stay out of the political thing. But this is kind of a no-brainer,” he said. “I just want to promote music and get young people playing music.”