Dr. Jesse Leyva is Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at Kent State University, where he conducts the Wind Ensemble, teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting, and provides administrative leadership for the band program. Prior to Leyva's appointment at Kent State, he was Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Illinois, and Director of Bands at Henderson State University (AR).
As a band director in the California public and private high schools for four years, Dr. Leyva directed concert and jazz bands that consistently received superior ratings at festivals and contests. He also served as a part-time faculty member at San José State University, where he taught courses in conducting and music education, as well as Stanford University, where he was the Assistant Conductor of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. A graduate of the Academy of Military Science, Dr. Leyva received his commission as an officer and served in the United States Air Force Band Program as Commander/Conductor of the 561st Air Force Band.
Dr. Leyva holds degrees from California State University at Stanislaus (BA – Music Education), San José State University (MA – Instrumental Conducting), and Arizona State University (DMA – Wind Band Conducting). His mentors include Dr. Edward C. Harris, Gary W. Hill, and Eugene Migliaro Corporon.
Published in several volumes of the GIA series “Teaching Music Through Performance in Band,” Dr. Leyva is a passionate advocate of music education and the exploration of engaging communities through music. Further research interests include the wind band music of Mexican composers Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas, and the pedagogical practice of The Breathing Gym in the wind band rehearsal setting.
Dr. Leyva is a member of numerous professional organizations including the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, National Association for Music Education, and National Band Association. He is also a member of the College Band Directors National Association, where he serves on the Gender/Ethnic Issues Committee. Dr. Leyva is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (Nu Zeta) and holds honorary memberships in Kappa Kappa Tsi (Beta Omicron, Theta Phi, and Beta Psi) and Tau Beta Sigma (Theta Theta and Alpha Gamma).