Faculty Spotlight | Dr. David Ledgerwood
Whether he’s playing piano in chapel, rehearsing with the Chambers Singers, or teaching one of many music classes on campus, Dr. Ledgerwood has been a constant presence at Maranatha Baptist University for thirty-six years. As chair of the Department of Music, his contributions to the music program cannot be understated, and his gifts of teaching, arranging, conducting, and making music are highlighted in his passion for his students.
A Late Start
Dr. David Ledgerwood grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Believe it or not, while most professional musicians begin their careers as toddlers, Dr. Ledgerwood did not begin to show interest in music until grade school.
“My parents had a piano in our basement, and I started plunking on it,” he recalls. “So, they started thinking that I needed lessons. I didn’t start lessons until I was in the third grade, which is actually pretty late for people in music.”
However, despite his late start, Dr. Ledgerwood soon found his passion for music. Besides piano, he began playing the organ in his church at nine years old. After he graduated high school, he attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh with a major in music. He was only able to study there for a year and a half before unexpected circumstances drew him away.
Creating Music in Unexpected Places
“At the end of the Vietnam war, I was drafted,” he says. “I had to leave the college, and I joined the Air Force as part of an Air Force Band.”
Even in the military, Dr. Ledgerwood found a way to pursue his dream of music. The Air Force stationed him in Tacoma, WA, where he performed in the 724th Air Force band for four years. His duties included performing in parades and change-of-command ceremonies. Also, the band often visited high schools for recruitment and entertained at military parties and in festivals throughout Washington state.
“We traveled all over Washington, Oregon, Idaho—the whole Northwest, even up into Canada,” he says. “We also went to Hawaii and marched [in] the big parade there.”
Notably, it was during his service in the military that Dr. Ledgerwood found Christ. Previously, he had grown up in a strict Catholic family. He attended Mass faithfully and went to a Catholic school up until eighth grade. This all changed during his early days in the Air Force when he replaced a man who was resigning from the band. This man, Michael James, happened to be a born-again Christian.
“Over the course of a couple of months, he continually witnessed to me,” Dr. Ledgerwood explains. “One night, he explained the Gospel to me after I told him I didn’t know what it meant. After that, I went back to my bunk and asked the Lord to save me. He was a very good testimony, and he helped me a lot.”
After being discharged from the Air Force in 1977, Dr. Ledgerwood moved with his wife from Washington state back to Pennsylvania to finish his undergraduate Music Education degree at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. From there, he went on to earn his Master’s degree in Church Music from Pensacola Christian College, studying with Dr. and Mrs. Frank Garlock, then earned a second Master’s in Composition and Theory back at the Indiana University of PA. Later, Dr. Ledgerwood earned his doctorate in Music Education at Boston University.
Though he got his Master’s degree in Church Music, he had known since his time as an undergraduate that he wanted to become a professor.
“I wanted to teach at a small college because I would get to develop in many areas instead of being specialized,” he says.
Indeed, Dr. Ledgerwood began his teaching career after he finished his undergraduate degree. He taught several non-music subjects at a Christian school for six years before his pastor suggested that he look into Christian higher education.
Michael James, the same man who had led Dr. Ledgerwood to the Lord several years earlier, had been teaching at Maranatha Baptist Bible College for several years, and was leaving to pursue his doctorate. He encouraged Dr. Ledgerwood to apply to replace him a second time. Dr. Weniger, president at the time, talked to Dr. Garlock and in August of 1986, Dr. Ledgerwood began teaching at Maranatha.
“There were several Christian colleges that contacted me,” he recalls. “I chose Maranatha because they called me. It just seemed like the Lord was in [this decision]. In addition, we wanted my wife to stay home with our kids, and that wasn’t allowed in any of the other colleges.”
An Ongoing Legacy
In over thirty years of teaching at Maranatha, Dr. Ledgerwood has learned countless lessons and has made many priceless memories with both students and faculty.
“I’ve been able to grow as a musician and also grow as a Christian,” he says. “I love working with the students and trying to help them understand complicated musical skills. Students regularly write back and talk to me about what they’re doing and that’s also really encouraging to me.”
Throughout his career at Maranatha, Dr. Ledgerwood taught many music classes, such as Form and Analysis, Keyboard Skills, Arranging, and Choral Arranging. Additionally, he directs the Chambers Singers, directing concerts and going on choir tours to different churches throughout the school year.
Dr. Ledgerwood also ministers at Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown. When he’s not playing the organ during services or singing in the choir, he serves as one of the deacons and leads the Patch Choir.
In his free time, Dr. Ledgerwood enjoys reading, singing, and, at least once during the summer, attending Shakespeare plays at the American Player’s Theatre with his family, whom he says are his biggest supporters. He also credits the music faculty and staff on campus—Carol Ruffin, Janet Tschida, Katie Potter, and Dr. and Mrs. Brown—as enduring supporters over the years.
When asked what advice he would give to prospective students, Dr. Ledgerwood says, “Try to be as organized as you can—learn how to focus on one thing at a time and do it very well. I also encourage students to read and do so widely.”
Especially to young adults going into music, he advises, “Students should approach their music as a craft that has to be learned over time, but continuously.”
We are grateful for Dr. Ledgerwood and the invaluable contributions he has made not only to MBU but also to his church and community. We are excited to see how he will continue to impact Maranatha. Thank you Dr. Ledgerwood for all that you do!
To see more about Dr. Ledgerwood, click here.
Dr. Ledgerwood has a separate interview on Maranatha’s On Mission podcast.