Spotlight on Leslie Blackwell: KSU School of Music is home sweet home
By Liza Scales
“I love KSU,” says Leslie J. Blackwell, director of choral activities and associate professor of music and music education at Kennesaw State University. “It feels like home to me because I’m a Georgia girl.” She jumped at the chance to return to Georgia after completing her doctorate at the University of Kentucky. “I work with an incredible of gifted and energetic colleagues.”
For more than 10 years, Blackwell has been a music professor at Kennesaw State University in her first collegiate position. Twenty-two years ago, she began her music teaching career in the public school system where she taught all grade levels. She explains that it was a great experience because it taught her how to teach. “Every group of students is different. My style of teaching changes, depending on the group dynamics. No matter the age group, I enjoy them all.”
Last year, Blackwell formed the KSU Community and Alumni Choir, currently a group of 75 singers of all ages comprised of , staff, alumni, and community members who meet weekly for rehearsals. Blackwell also directs the KSU Chamber Singers, an auditioned ensemble, and the KSU Chorale, a non-auditioned choir that is open to all students.
Sophomore music education major Rachel Mercer enjoys having Blackwell as an advisor. Along with her studies, Mercer is the administrator of the KSU choral program where she is gaining valuable practical experience. “Dr. Blackwell is always there willing to answer questions and provide me with new and imaginative opportunities in preparation for becoming a teacher,” says Mercer. “She’s been amazing.”
Blackwell uses vivid images with her students to draw their attention to the human connection of music. She says, "They can feel the words through their imaginations, and this is the most fulfilling part of the creative process." She adds, "It is also meaningful to create something when you are part of a group; altogether everyone makes the whole, and the creation would not happen without the whole. As we move forward with the opening of a state-of-the-art new building, we will continue to create something new as a group: studios, offices, rehearsal space-it's an incredible time for our students!" For her personally, this is a time of exciting vision and growth.
At the state convention of the American Choral Directors Association in June 2009, Blackwell will conduct the ACDA Male Honor Choir, an international choral group, at Spivey Hall in Atlanta. In the fall of 2009, she looks forward to leading a male chorus day at KSU with 150 high school male singers for an all-day workshop culminating in a concert.