Faculty Spotlight: Leslie Richter

Soundboard used by AET faculty and students
Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business

Faculty Spotlight: Leslie Richter

April 9, 2024 | by Ryleigh Green

In addition to strong connections within the Nashville music scene, Belmont is also renowned for its audio engineering and technology (AET) program, which teaches students how to get audio from its initial state to its final form and ready to be shared with the world. Leading the charge is the future chair of Belmont’s AET department, Leslie Richter.  

Ritcher’s AET Journey 

Growing up playing a variety of instruments, Richter knew that she wanted to work in music for as long as she can remember. But after auditioning for a rock band in high school, she realized there is a difference between creating music from scratch and maximizing its potential.  

“I had an epiphany as a teenager that I’m an interpreter, not a creator,” she said. “I realized that my background in music was important because it allowed me to communicate with the musicians on their level. At the core of it, an engineer is a channel for a creator’s work to get to the world.” 

She worked professionally for more than a decade in studios and as a freelance engineer in Nashville, initially working with Belmont students as an industry professional evaluating students’ midterm and final mixes. A few semesters later, she became an adjunct professor and taught a single audio class.  

Although hesitant at first, Richter immediately found deep fulfillment in teaching. “I was able to pay forward the knowledge I accrued over the years of my career and see the light bulbs go off in students’ heads,” she said. “I could teach in the way I felt like I wasn't taught – in a more relatable, real-life way.” 

She eventually became a full-time instructor, and will succeed Michael Janas as the new chair of AET beginning in fall 2024. Belmont’s audio engineering program has a variety of unique offerings for students, with courses covering topics such as physics for audio engineers, critical listening and master production. 

Richter maintains her involvement in the professional world of audio engineering by staying active in professional organizations like the Audio Engineering Society and The Recording Academy, as well as continuing to engineer tracks in her free time. 

Benefits of Studying AET at Belmont 

“We offer a really solid foundation,” she said. “A lot of people come in and they just want to make music. They’re not thinking about the science behind engineering or the vast landscape of opportunities outside of making records, but we offer those solid scientific foundations, as well as a variety of hands-on experiences.” 

“And then there’s the location,” she added. Situated between Music Row and Berry Hill, neighborhoods known for their recording studios, Belmont is a prime spot for students to integrate internships into their college experience because of the easy commute and community connections the program has to the industry.  

Ritcher also highlighted the importance of the community AET students can build with peers and faculty at Belmont. Within the Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, students can collaborate with peers from programs such as songwriting and music business. 

Belmont also has AET faculty who have worked as engineers in the industry, rather than just studying and teaching. “[Field experience] makes a huge difference,” Richter said. “We are very fortunate to have faculty who have done the work that they’re teaching.” 

Recognizing that AET is a very hands-on career, Richter still emphasizes the importance of studying audio engineering in an academic setting.  

“School is like opening a door,” she said. “I don’t know if you could just show up to industry events if you don’t have a door to walk through, and we provide access to those doors.” 

A Bright and Promising Future 

Looking ahead to leading AET at Belmont in the fall, Richter is working to make sure that she continues the positive work of the former chair by listening to students about what they want from the program. She is also dedicated to working with other chairs of Curb to encourage cooperation across departments. “At the end of the day, we’re all part of the same ecosystem, and we need every piece of this ecosystem in order to be successful.”  

By looking to the future of audio engineering and engaging with the broadened perspectives of all Curb College programs, Richter has her eye on feeding the Belmont spirit of collaboration for years to come. 


Learn more about AET at Belmont