Most people might assume that music professors are hermits, always hunched over a piano or locked away in their offices, furiously scribbling over a score. If you have ever met Dr. Leslie Sprout, Associate Professor of the Music Department, you know this is not the truth. Sprout’s is the first of many profiles this semester where you will get to learn a little more about your professors here at Drew.
Sprout has worked at Drew since 2007 and teaches a number of music history courses including and introductory course on Western art music called Music and the Soundscape of Film and Music in Context. In addition to being a professor, Sprout is also a musicologist, meaning music research and analysis are her specialty, rather than performance or composition. Her primary research focus is on music, politics and early sound film in 1930s and 40s France.
Like many students, she had some trouble figuring out what she wanted to major in and ended up attending undergrad at a few different institutions. “I spent two years at Swarthmore College, where I considered majoring in French, anthropology, biology or Latin because my parents said, ‘anything but music,’” Sprout said. After that, she went to France to study piano at L’École Normale de Musique in Paris, which convinced her parents that it was okay for her to pursue a career as a musician. After a year in Paris, she finished her degree in music theory at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
COURTESY OF LESLIE SPROUT
She loved the year she studied in Paris so much that, last summer, Sprout went back, stating, “I wanted to take my teenage daughters to work on their French, to spend time with my college roommate and her kids and to show them around my favorite parts of the city.” Her favorite thing to do on the weekends? The answer is a little different than what you might have expected from a music professor. “Hiking in the parks around New Jersey and upstate New York,” Sprout said. “Professor Mary-Ann Pearsall recently reintroduced me to backpacking.” She also said she would love to learn to scuba dive someday, which is reflected in the last book that she read: Water and Light: A Diver's Journey to a Coral Reef, by Stephen Harrigan. Another fun fact: her favorite sweet treat is chocolate. In fact, Sprout said, “If you really knew me you would know how much chocolate it takes for me to finish writing an article.” Another thing she absolutely loves is, “making music onstage in the Concert Hall with Drew student musicians.”
According to Sprout’s students, she always makes time for her students. Jillian Canal (’19) said, “Professor Sprout is one of the most genuine, helpful professors that I have had.” If her students have questions about an assignment or research for one of her classes she is more than willing to sit down and talk about it. She is just as interested in her student's research as she is in her own. “I am applying to grad school for music therapy and she has been helpful with answering all my questions and concerns” stated Canal. “She has gone completely out of her way to help me [...] and to make sure I have the best experience with applications and auditions.” Sprout also has some good advice for those thinking about or just starting a career as a professor. “If you plan to be a professor, or any kind of teacher, then choose a field you're truly passionate about to share that enthusiasm with your students and colleagues.”
She definitely lives by that advice, and is passionate about seeing her students succeed. Canal said, “I have been very insecure about the whole process for grad school, and she has made me feel like it is something I am capable of and has pushed me to be confident with myself.”