Whether it’s Haydn or Hillsong, Ed Kerr knows the music and can play it.
The Director of Worship Studies for The King’s University is a trained classical pianist. But his graduate school experience at Indiana University gave him more than a master’s degree.
“Graduate school is where I got saved,” he exclaimed. “But I also got involved in Harvest, a contemporary Christian singing group. So I had this background of Bach and Chopin — playing classical pieces — but I also got involved with Christian music.”
It was the influence of a friend who helped to open the door that led Ed into worship music.
“He was a youth pastor and worship leader, so he wanted people to sing along rather than just watch him perform,” he said. “That influence led me into becoming a songwriter of Christian songs and ultimately working with Integrity Music as a songwriter. My background is an unusual mesh of decades of experience on the road doing concerts, writing worship songs and also teaching at worship conferences around the world.”
Last summer Ed moved along with his wife, Carey, and two children Cameron and Natalie, from Seattle to Southlake to begin his new position at the Gateway campus of TKU.
Dr. Pete Sanchez, TKU Vice President for Academic Affairs, is thrilled to have him on board.
“I’m so pleased Ed Kerr agreed to direct our new and growing Associate of Worship Leadership program,” he said. “His keyboard and songwriting skills are well recognized in the worship community. For our students to have access to his industry expertise, personal humility, and commitment to training is an indicator of God’s favor on the program.”
Ed is excited for the opportunity to help develop the Worship Leadership program.
“I’ve taught hundreds of worship workshops around the world, but they’re typically 1 to 3 hours,” he explained. “Here I have 2 to 4 years to train these students along with our excellent faculty.”
“Our mandate from Dr. Sanchez and Dr. Spurling is to make this rigorous, make this challenging,” he continued.
Ed says students’ hands-on experience with the latest technology makes the worship arts program at TKU top notch.
“The provision of technology from Gateway is amazing ” he exclaimed. “They’ve equipped us with this incredible music wing. We have a keyboard lab that has 17 iMacs, Yamaha keyboards and audio interfaces in it. Pro Tools, state of the art software for composing, recording, editing and mixing music, is installed on every iMac.”
From songwriting and music theory to video and sound, Ed knows each graduate of the Worship Arts program will leave with a broad range of skills that will help in “the real world.”
“When a student graduates and leads worship at a church, they might be working with a volunteer sound person,” he explained. “If that volunteer can’t figure out why there’s feedback, our graduate will have had training here that provides a basic knowledge of how a sound system works.”
Besides skill, Ed insists there’s something more important that ultimately determines a worship leader’s long term success.
“At some point the thing that is going to sustain you is having character,” he said. “Perhaps even broken character where God has humbled you and you realize, ‘It’s all about God.’”
As he looks to the future, Ed hopes that songwriting will be a characteristic of the Worship Leadership program at TKU.
“Long term, I would love our Worship Leadership program to be filled with people who are not just instrumentally or vocally skilled, but they’re restless to write songs,” he exclaimed.
Sometimes these songs will be birthed out of specific circumstances.
“If I’m a worship pastor and I know a person in my congregation is struggling . . . the shepherd who knows his sheep. . . might write (a song) that ministers very specifically to their situation.”
“I know the heart of God is to minister to that person,” Ed continued. “I want to see God birth these kinds of songs through our students. Scripture talks about songs of deliverance. The thought of us within the family of TKU writing songs that are for our situation — that’s a beautiful thing.”
Find out more about the AWL Program HERE.