Sandra Lee Robertson, M.M.



Dr. Kay R. Dickson, “Sandra Lee Robertson, M.M.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed April 24, 2024,

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Sandra Lee Robertson, M.M.


Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty


Dr. Kay R. Dickson




Biographical sketches


Boone (N.C.)

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage



Associate Professor Emerita

Biographical Text

Associate Professor Emerita of Music Sandra Lee Robertson was born in 1940 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, to Marvin Alton Robertson and Elouise Whitmore Robertson. Her father worked for the War/Manpower Commission, and her mother worked as a secretary and taught typing at Madison College. Robertson had two siblings: a sister, Bonnie Lynn, born in 1945, and a brother, Alton Wayne (1949-2002). In 1947, the family moved to Roanoke, Virginia, where Robertson's father was founder and CEO of Rusco Window Company, and her mother was active in civic, church, and arts organizations. In high school, Robertson participated in dance, drama, and music, becoming president of the student music club, of the Thespians, and of her sorority. She played Bernadette in The Song of Bernadette and took leading roles in two one-act plays. She also served as a student director. Before high school graduation, Robertson played a solo senior piano recital. At sixteen, she got her first taste of the working world, spending a summer working in the Venetian blind factory at her father's company. In 1958, Robertson entered the Oberlin Conservatory of Music as a performance major in piano, studying with Beryl Ladd. The summer of her freshman year, she performed as a dancer in the outdoor drama Thy Kingdom Come, and, in 1960, she studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, with the Mozart expert, Kurt Neumuller. While in Europe, she traveled to France, Germany, England, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, Lebanon, Yugoslavia, Greece, Jordan, and Egypt. Her fine arts professor took their class to Italy, where he made the arts come alive for them. They attended an audience with Pope John the 23rd, where Oberlin students sang for him. Robertson graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory in 1962, with a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance. After graduating, she returned to Roanoke to teach in the pre-college department of Hollins, where she earned enough money to begin graduate school and buy her first car, a 1952 Buick. She performed concerts at Hollins and at the Roanoke Fine Arts Festival and she also played for a silent film series. She joined Showtimers, an amateur theatrical group, and played Helen's mother in The Miracle Worker, the story of Helen Keller. In 1964, Ms. Robertson began graduate studies at Indiana University as a piano performance major, studying with Menahem Pressler, founder of the Beaux Arts Trio. She graduated from Indiana University in 1966 with a master's degree in performance, and she then joined the faculty at Stratford College in Danville, Virginia, where she taught piano, theory, and music history. She realized a lifelong dream in 1968, when she performed Schumann's Concerto in A Minor as guest soloist with the Roanoke Symphony. In 1968, Robertson joined the faculty of Southern Seminary in Buena Vista, Virginia. In 1969, Appalachian State University sought her out, and she joined the university faculty, where she taught undergraduate and graduate students. Over the years, her students were chosen as winners and finalists for the concertoaria competition. One student was recently selected as the keyboard representative in the honors recital series. Robertson was awarded Pi Kappa Lambda and was a patroness of Sigma Alpha Iota. She is also a member of the Liszt Society and the North Carolina Music Teachers Association. In 1971, she studied with Dr. Bela Boszormenyi-Nagy at Boston University and continued to receive his coaching until his death in 1988. Sadly, her father also died in 1988, and, after her mother died in 1974, Robertson began work on a doctorate at Florida State University, where she received the highest music entrance scores. At Florida State she studied piano with Karyl Louwenaar, and, in 1975, she returned to Appalachian State to resume teaching. While teaching at Appalachian State, Robertson performed with the university orchestra, including Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin; Concerto in A Minor, Grieg; Concerto No. 2, Rachmaninoff; Two-Piano Concerto, Poulenc; and Three-Piano Concerto, Mozart. She played for and with faculty members and students, especially for Dr. Harold McKinney, whom she enjoyed accompanying for many years. Robertson gave guest concerts at numerous colleges and music organizations. A highlight was her performance in the distinguished first American Liszt Festival as accompanist for Kay Kraft. She received reviews praising her "extremely sensitive manner." Over the years, Robertson adjudicated the concertoaria competition; the Fletcher competition; the North Carolina Music Teachers Association, college division; and various music club competitions in North Carolina. As a faculty emerita of music, she continues to be involved with Appalachian State, recently traveling with present and past faculty members Bair Shagdaran and Allen Kindt to judge piano students in South Carolina. In retirement, Robertson enjoys private teaching, performing, travel, her sister Bonnie and her family, and many former students and close friends. Sources: Appalachian State University files and personal correspondence. -Kay R. Dickson

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