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Billy Joel Gives Surprise Master Class for NYC High School Students

Billy Joel Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Exploring The Arts

Billy Joel was in a high school state of mind.

The Piano Man paid a surprise visit to the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, N.Y., on Thursday.

After being introduced by his pal Tony Bennett, who founded the school in 2001, the 64-year-old Joel held a Q&A for students where he talked about his four-decade career and offered up impromptu solo piano performances of two of his classic hits, "New York State of Mind" and "She's Got a Way."

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The "Big Shot" singer answered questions ranging from the music that inspired him and the stories behind certain songs ("Captain Jack" being one) to his first gig as a solo artist, what advice he can give starving artists, what he's working on musicwise now, and what he would've done if he hadn't made it in showbiz.

"If I hadn't been able to be a musician at all, I probably would have gone insane," Joel told the youths, per responses posted on his Twitter page.

The hitmaker, whose last album, hard to believe, was 20 years ago with 1993's River of Dreams, added that he continues to write new music, but mostly instrumental stuff.

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But Joel continues to maintain a busy schedule.

The music legend turned up earlier this week in Washington D.C. to help honor fellow singer-songwriter Carole King with The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize. Joel also performed at New Orleans' Jazz Fest last month and is due to head across the pond later this year for his first U.K. tour in seven years.

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