Meet our Teachers - Our Songbird & Vocal Instructor, Marie Hagen

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Born, raised and trained in Stockholm, Marie hails from one of the biggest musical cities in the world. Her musical journey started with the clarinet at 8 years old, and when she turned 11 she majored in the voice. Marie received her training from the Kulturama School of Music in Stockholm, and embarked on an illustrious teaching and performing career. She has guided numerous talents as a primary and secondary school music educator in Stockholm, and has been appointed music director for several choirs. Marie has now moved to Singapore and has a gained a following at jazz clubs in the Lion city, earning her the moniker “Songbird of jazz, soul and R&B”.

Just do it! We can do more than we think. - Marie Haagen

We had a chat with Marie after one of her powerful singing classes.

How did you decide on a career in music and teaching? 
Music has always been in my blood, I grew up in a family that was very much into music. When other families went camping, we went to jazz festivals. I moved to Stockholm to study music in 1996 and then work just started coming to me, I was very lucky.

What does music mean to you?
Music is the soul talking. For me, it is very spiritual and it tells a story when there are no words. That is why music can touch people so easily. It goes straight into the heart and that is the power of music. The voice is the most personal of all instruments and that gives singing a very special healing and therapeutic purpose.

What kind of music do you listen to? Any favourites?
I listen to afro-American music mainly. Soul, r'n'b, jazz, hip hop, neo soul, blues and gospel music are the genres I listen to the most. Some of my favourite singers are Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway and gospel singer Karen Clark Sheard.

Is teaching any different from singing professionally? If so, what are the differences and challenges that you face?
Teaching and professional singing has its similarities. It is a service you do for others, to lift and to touch the people who listen and the people you teach. You have to be an entertainer when it comes to both, especially when teaching younger children. Teaching is all about being a part of the process of lifting the students to higher levels.

It is very easy to become very self-conscious when you are on a stage, but in reality it's not about you. It's all about inspiring the people who are listening whether it is about giving them entertainment or by touching them on a deeper level. 

When I was younger I had to deal with issues of self-consciousness, and that lead me to give up music for a few years. At that point I could not see the enjoyment in music because I had difficulty attaining the level of perfection that I strived for. It was a process for me to realise that it is not about me and my perfection. Rather, it is about using the gift I have been given and that has been refined through the years, as a service to others in hope to touch people in whatever way they need. 

What do you make of the current music education here in Singapore? Is it progressing within your expectations?
The music industry in Sweden and Singapore is very different. Sweden’s population is only twice as big as Singapore’s, but it is the world’s third largest music export country, after USA and Great Britain. A lot of people outside Sweden do not know this. The Swedish education system supports the arts by offering tax subsidies on instrumental lessons from a young age, resulting in many choirs and music schools. During my time there were five Music Academies at University level in Sweden that offered state-of-the-art education in contemporary music. 

I have observed that music education in Singapore bend towards an academic approach, directing students more towards classical music, music theory and music exams. Knowledge and fundamentals are certainly valuable but there are deeper aspects of music than can not be measured through exams. Music is also about personal growth, courage, inner spirit and healing. That is what I aim to achieve with all my students.

Check out these videos of Marie performing with The Solfonics.

Marie teaches vocals at D-Flat Studios. Do have a chat with her the next time you see her in the studio!