Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself (Vocally) – Vocal Technique :: Dr. Kathleen Hacker

Have you ever worked with a musician that knew how to bring out the best in people? Sure, there are those people who can challenge us musically, but what about the leaders who can take it a step further and help us to become better people…better servants? Dr. Kathleen Hacker is just that kind of person. (pictured here, with her youngest daughter, Olivia)

Kathleen is an absolute gift to the Body of Christ and is an amazing member of the Worship & Arts Ministry at our church. (MPCC) She is a graduate of Eastman School of Music and holds a doctorate from Indiana University. She is currently Chair of the Music Department, Director of Vocal Studies and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Indianapolis. She has traveled the world as a performer and clinician. Follow her on Twitter @KathleenHacker

We are thrilled that she will be leading a breakout session at ENGAGE: The Worship Experience on Vocal Technique and I had the chance to ask her a few questions about singing, vocal health and how she hopes her session will impact the vocalists who attend. Engage is a Worship Conference coming to Greenwood, IN, September 12-14. Dig deeper by visiting our web site:

Q:  When did you start singing?

A:  I was singing in the womb. I was one of those children who never considered doing anything else with her life. We even had to make a rule at our house that there would be no singing at the dinner table. I never connected that the rule was made because of me.

The first solo I was given in school was in first grade for Miss Philips. It was for the Christmas program “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”  and I got to sing it with the sixth grade choir. It is unusual perhaps, but singing was my first language and speaking my second. I would go into the dining room and close the panel doors to sing and play piano for hours on end. I took part in every musical opportunity that came around for our small town and was in every music class offered in my school. When it came time to begin thinking about college, it never occurred to me to consider any other degree program than music…I just had to figure out where I would earn it. My sister told me a few years ago that they (all four of my siblings) always thought I was a bit weird growing up….

I never thought about being a star or desired that image. I just wanted to learn how to sing everything that came across my plate.  Later on in life, I wanted to sing great music with talented people; I wanted to teach others what I knew; and I wanted to be able to put my children to bed every night. I have that life now because God granted me the desires of my heart.

Q:  When did you realize it was going to be more than a hobby for you?

A:  When I had to start making a living and realized that I didn’t know how to do anything else….

Q:  You will be leading a Vocal Technique session at Engage this year. What do you hope to impart to the vocalists that attend your session?

A:  The most important thing I wish to impart is that Gods gift can be brought to its highest communicative potential and that a singer’s heart can be most fully expressive if one understands and employs good technique. The more you work at becoming your best self as a singer, the more equipped you are to share the glory and power of God’s story.

Q:  What do you think are the biggest challenges facing vocalists in the church today?

A:  1) Understanding good vocal technique and using that same technique while adjusting for amplified sound.
2) The current repertoire is not repertoire that builds basic technique like classical repertoire does…the range is necessarily limited and sits low for most women in order to accommodate good congregational sound,  so you have to bring good technique to the table.
3) Bringing a song to life that has many repetitive phrases is not easy. Repetition is good, because the congregation then takes the phrase away with them, but making each turn of the phrase come alive  in performance is truly a feat for the imagination.

Q:  If you could say 1 thing to every church vocalist, what would it be?

A:  Love the Lord, desire to express his Majesty in all that you do, and know that people will be lead if you remain an instrument for God. Once you get in the way of that and push God out of the picture, you are no longer leading a worship experience.


For a detailed list of Engage sessions, or for registration info, visit us on the web: 

Let’s connect on Twitter: @BrianLTabor   @EngageConf   @MpccWorship

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