OFFSTAGE: Keith Urban: The Six Teachable Moments

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

At last week’s All Access: Keith Urban day at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Urban played teacher to about 200 students from Nashville public high schools. He talked about his early days of playing the ukulele at 4, the guitar at 6 and getting a gig at a nursing home at 7. And he took questions from the kids. Here are some of the standout quotes from his classroom, and a little news on his potential stint as an American Idol judge:

“I wasn’t disciplined and didn’t like to practice. I just didn’t like the idea of lessons. I used to get on my little bike and disappear when it was time for the guitar teacher to come around.”

“It’s best to forget about rules when it comes to songwriting. As soon as someone says, ‘Well, this is the way you do it,’ someone will write a song that defies everything and breaks every rule and has pure expression in it. If you have a burst of inspiration, that’s the best thing.”

“If you’re an artist, you’re a visionary. You have a vision of what your art may be. No one may understand it yet, so you have to believe in yourself. But you also need people around you that you can trust and who will tell you the truth about what is good and what isn’t.”

“It was a lifelong dream of mine to move to Nashville to make records and tour. But I didn’t know how difficult it would be. You think it’s going to be very easy, but it wasn’t. It took years of hard work to get a break at all.”

“‘Keith, you’re really unique. That will be your biggest curse until it becomes your greatest blessing.’ The second he [a Nashville record label executive] told me that, I knew it was what I needed to hear. From that one statement, I knew I had to stay with it.”

“I would love to do it [American Idol], and hopefully that happens. I did get to do a similar role in Australia for The Voice, and I really enjoyed it. The thing about those shows is that mentoring aspect … it’s about passing it on.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.