Leigh VanHandel Associate Professor of Music Theory


  • Music Theory

415 Music Practice Building
East Lansing, MI 48824

(517) 353-2943

Other Links:


Leigh VanHandel is Associate Professor of music theory at the Michigan State University College of Music, with a courtesy appointment in Cognitive Science.

She received a Bachelor of Music from the Ohio State University, a Master of Music from SUNY Stony Brook, and a Doctor of Philosophy from Stanford University. Her dissertation was titled "Setting a Menu to Music: Prosody and Melody in 19th-century Art Song," and was a quantitative study of the relationship between speech intonation and rhythm patterns in spoken German and French and the melody and rhythm of art songs written to texts in those languages. She previously taught at the University of Oregon and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Her research interests include music cognition, music theory pedagogy, the relationship between music and language, computer applications in music research and pedagogy, and how all of those things relate to each other. 

She has presented at numerous regional, national, and international conferences and has been published in such journals as the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, Music Perception, the Journal of New Music Research, and Empirical Musicology Review. She is the author of Music Theory Skill Builder, a web-based fundamentals development environment licensed and distributed by Oxford University Press. In 2018 she was appointed to the College Board Advanced Placement Music Theory Development Committee, and was also elected to the Executive Board of the Society for Music Theory. She is editor of and a contributor to The Routledge Companion to Music Theory Pedagogy (Routledge Press, forthcoming in 2020).