Chris Hathcock '05, '09


Name: Chris Hathcock '05, '09
Residence: Durham, North Carolina
Degree: B.A., Music; M.A., Teacher Education Music K-12
Occupation: Director of New Music Production, Millbrook High School

Chris Hathcock '05, '09, considers his life saved by—and through—music.  

“That fact fuels my commitment to teaching music and equipping students with the ability to use music to do the same in their lives,” said the Durham, North Carolina, resident.  

Thanks to a VH1 Save the Music Foundation/SongFarm grant, he can add a lot more fuel to his commitment's fire: Hathcock is one of two teachers nationwide chosen as grant recipients. His school (Millbrook High School in Raleigh) has now received a staggering 421 pieces of new gear and software for Hathcock's students, including computers, iPads, PA speakers, instruments, keyboards, cables and much more. Additionally, students will have the chance to participate in monthly invite-only music industry master classes with industry professionals and artists from labels such as Sony and platforms like Amazon Music.  

“I was elated when I heard and practically combusted wanting to tell my students,” Hathcock said. “When I began teaching this program, I had no room that was my own – I had to travel to different classes - and all of the audio equipment we used was my personal stuff. The program started with literally nothing.  

“For us to have progressed to the point that we can offer students so many options in terms of software and hardware as well as provide them with tools they may otherwise never get to use…it is absolutely incredible.” 

Hathcock chose Winthrop after meeting with the late Professor of Music B. Michael Williams.  

“Dr. Williams helped me to realize that there was an entire world of music and sound that I had yet to even glimpse,” Hathcock explained. “He introduced me to a way of understanding necessary concepts, such as discipline and commitment, that were essential to success in any field.”  

Hathcock participated in the percussion studio, which included the Percussion and West African Drum ensembles, and university bands. He said his experience was so positive that a year after earning his bachelor's degree in music, he returned to work on his master's degree in teacher education.  

After graduation, he worked as the band director in Cheraw, spearheading new classes like Advanced Placement Music Theory and Percussion Ensemble and led the competitive marching band to consecutive Lower State Championships. He then worked as the director of bands at C.E. Jordan High School in Durham, once again implementing new classes in addition to multiple jazz big band/combo classes, multiple symphonic bands and the competitive marching band. The band earned numerous awards at various festivals. 

In his role as the director of new music production at Raleigh's Millbrook High School, a post he originated in 2018, Hathcock draws on his unique background as an instrumental educator and performing artist/producer to create his curriculum. His students learn about the technical aspects of recording, but also about the fundamentals of songwriting, with the goal of them learning to create, record and/or program their own music. He and his fellow grant author, Assistant Principal Charleston Patton, believe this aspect was particularly appealing to Save the Music Foundation/SongFarm.  

It's not the first time Hathcock has caught the nation's eye either. He was previously nominated for the 2017 Grammy Music Educator of the Year Award and Durham's Most Inspirational Teacher Award in 2018. As if that wasn't enough, he's signed to Heaven & Hell Records and Pavement Entertainment, recording and producing albums with different bands and composes and arranges music for high schools and universities.  

Looking back on his time at Winthrop, Hathcock fondly remembers the aforementioned B. Michael Williams and other impactful professors. 

Dr. Lorrie Crochet was my mentor as I turned into a band director and really shaped me into an educator,” he said, “as well as Dr. Lisa Harris and Dr. Marshall Jones in the College of Education, Sport, and Human Sciences, who both had pragmatic and applicable approaches to the subject matter, but also were extraordinarily personable and wonderful people.”