Keith Urban Gives Aspiring High School Musicians Behind-the-Scenes Glimpse of Vegas Show: 'Just Phenomenal'

"I love that I get to play [The Colosseum,] but I'd be doing it if I could just play some bar on the Las Vegas Strip tonight. That's where I'd be," Keith Urban tells PEOPLE

Keith Urban was making memories with a gaggle of Las Vegas high school students on Thursday, even inviting one of them to come onstage and riff with him a bit during a private soundcheck.

About 30 students — all guitar majors — from the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts got to spend quality time with country singer this week as he prepared for another run of his hugely-popular residency show at Caesars Palace's Colosseum.

"It's great to kind of be in that situation to give any answers that might help, but also to hear questions and challenges that they're going through right now," Urban told PEOPLE, who was invited to the private event.

Urban, 54, not only performed several songs for the juniors and seniors via soundcheck, but the students also got a backstage tour, learned about sound engineering, and got a close-up view of the "Stupid Boy" singer's cache of guitars. They even got to hurl a slew of questions at Urban, who was asked about everything from touring to his coffee drinking habits.

Keith Urban
Andy Snyder

"I think that this was an eye opener for them," the student's teacher, Lucas Finney, said afterward. "I think that many of them are now blossoming into new styles of music, and this certainly made an impact in coming here. I think they have gained a lot of insight in terms of just overall musicianship and seeing showbiz in action … the fact that he allowed us to do this is just phenomenal."

As Urban was saying his goodbyes, he suddenly invited one student, a senior named Bradley Love, to riff with him for a few minutes onstage (His classmates seemed equally delighted and jealous).

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While the kids are obviously in school for music, Urban, who is primarily a self-taught guitarist, can't relate to them in one aspect: he dropped out of school when he was just 15 years old.

"I was terrible at school, and [in his native Australia] you can legally leave when you're 15," he shared. "My birthday is in October and I said to my mom, 'I'm gonna leave on my birthday.' "

Keith Urban
Andy Snyder

His mom, Urban noted, convinced him to finish the school year, which ended two months later.

"So I stuck it out, got my junior certificate and did nothing with it," he said. "I was already playing in a band in clubs on the weekends, and they used to play during the week without me because I was going to school. I said, 'Mom and dad, I could be earning good money playing five nights a week if this school thing wasn't in the way.' "

His parents, to their credit, agreed with him (although it helped that his father was a drummer).

"It was very apparent that this is what I was going to do. I love that I get to play [The Colosseum,] but I'd be doing it if I could just play some bar on the Las Vegas Strip tonight. That's where I'd be. I'd be doing that," he said. Urban then smiled and said of Caesars Palace, "But this place is better. This place is amazing."

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