A “Ledge”ndary Legacy | Honoring Dr. David Ledgerwood
After thirty-seven years of teaching at MBU and nineteen years of chairing the music department, the “ledge”ndary Dr. David Ledgerwood announced his semi-retirement at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. An extraordinary teacher, arranger, performer, and conductor, Dr. Ledgerwood deeply impacted the hearts of hundreds of music graduates and Chamber Singer members over the years. Being a prolific arranger with more than fifty published pieces, Ledgerwood also successfully established and developed MBU’s sought-after composing/arranging program.
Ledgerwood’s family has been an integral part of his ministry. All eight of his children actively participated in the music department and graduated from Maranatha, four with degrees in music. The music department owes a huge debt of gratitude to Kim, Ledgerwood’s wife of nearly fifty years, for the innumerable ways she has gone above and beyond to support both him and the department.
Affectionately referred to as “Dr. Ledge,” he often fills a room with laughter by playing his “Mickey Mouse Theme and Variations.” He can also command an entire choir using only his signature “Ledge Look”—if you know, you know.
While so much could be written about his significant accomplishments, Ledgerwood’s legacy extends far beyond his musical achievements.
Ledgerwood accomplished the mission he purposed to fulfill back when he first accepted his position at Maranatha. In one of his weekly emails to his adult children, Dr. Ledge reflected, “When I came to MBU in 1986, I desired to serve the Lord with the gifts and talents He gave me. I was not seeking recognition, but an opportunity to rear a Christian family who honored God’s Word. I wanted to be a blessing and challenge to my students and encourage them with the belief that it is worth their while to use their lives for Him.” To this, his family, students, and colleagues resoundingly proclaim, “Mission accomplished, Dr. Ledge!”
Commitment to Christ
Upholding a God-centered mission, Ledgerwood prioritizes his commitment to Christ above all else. Dr. Ledge once shared, “the greatest contribution you can leave the next generation is not your talent, but your holiness.” In a tribute that resonates with all who know him, Ledgerwood’s children write, “There is no doubt we have all been blessed because of Dad’s commitment to Christ. Our lives are better because of his walk with God. We have watched all of his years be spent in the consistent pursuit of godliness.” Speaking on behalf of his siblings, Matty shares further, “Most people remember their dad for vacations and ball games. While we have those memories too, our strongest memories will always be of his character and the fire he had to serve and please his Savior.”
From this transparent walk with God flows a humble integrity, two words that most accurately describe Dr. Ledge. “Dad never sought recognition or fanfare. Everything he did stemmed from a genuine desire to honor God,” Matty recalls. Colleague Dr. David Brown concurs, “Rare is the case in the musical world where a professional musician of world-class status can lead in such a God-honoring and humble manner.” Students also take note. “My respect for Dr. Ledge’s teaching, musicianship, and humility has only increased over the last two years. He has shown me nothing but love and kindness in his instruction,” said Joel Montgomery, a senior in MBU’s arranging program.
As a result of this humble integrity, Ledgerwood possesses a healthy awareness of his own flaws and models the importance of sincere, self-examination before God. “He humbly acknowledges his mistakes and thanks the grace of God for pointing them out to him. Growing up in a home with such a powerful example of Christ-like humility has been one of the great blessings of my life,” writes his daughter, Joanna.
Ledgerwood’s desire for open and honest communication makes him extremely approachable. As the department chair, he often advises, “Value people who tell you the truth. Listen to them. Look for ways to interact with them. Do not avoid them. Do not write them off. Unite with them for good purposes.” He practices this in his own life by constantly seeking feedback from faculty and students and by listening before he speaks. “Students and faculty know when they bring their concerns to him, he will genuinely listen to them,” remarks long-time faculty member, Carol Senn Ruffin. Ledgerwood approaches meetings with an open mind and waits to give his opinions until everyone else has the opportunity to speak.
His humble integrity also pushes him to constantly improve. Ledgerwood models the true meaning of a life-long learner. Pursuing a doctorate in his 50s, learning advanced Schenkerian Analysis in his 60s, taking duo lessons from Dr. Stasi Varshavaki, and continuously reading books on diverse topics are just a few of many examples. “He always believes there is something to learn from others,” Joanna explains. “This has made him a fantastic teacher, since he cares that his content is ever-changing and requires him to evolve. This has also made him a great conversationalist, since he readily shares what he’s been learning and wants to hear the same from you.” Philip, Ledgerwood’s youngest, confirms, “His constant commitment to improvement and refinement, in every area of life, is something he still demonstrates daily to all of us kids, as well as to his students and colleagues.”
Ledgerwood’s distinctive leadership style has enabled the music department to make significant advances and grow in both depth and breadth.
Ledgerwood leads by example, generously giving of his time to mentor both students and faculty. “Following his example, I’ve endeavored to go the extra mile with my students (especially in preparing for juries and recitals) because I saw him go the extra mile and do whatever it took to get students to reach the finish line,” reflects Ruth Brown, a twenty-year music faculty member.
By modeling the importance of celebrating one another’s exceptionality, the department enjoys a collegial and supportive environment—an uncommon phenomenon in many university music schools. Ledgerwood values the uniqueness of each faculty member. After identifying their God-given gifts and skill sets, he positions faculty to successfully utilize those gifts and skills for the good of the department.
Ledgerwood’s leadership style also fosters a collaborative atmosphere. He encourages creative thinking by listening to ideas and implementing whenever possible. Even though Dr. Ledge possesses an unparalleled depth of wisdom, “he always seeks input from music faculty before he makes any departmental decision—whether it be big or small,” comments Ruffin. “He does not back away from making what some may perceive as an unpopular decision when after much prayer, counsel, and thoughtful consideration, he is convinced from the Lord that this is the correct decision.”
A “Ledge”-ndary Legacy
As MBU reflects on Dr. Ledgerwood’s profound impact, Psalm 37:23 comes to mind, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: And he delighteth in his way.” Maranatha thanks Dr. Ledgerwood for his years of heartfelt service to the Lord and celebrates his truly legendary legacy that will carry on through the countless lives impacted by his humble leadership.
Written by Janet Tschida, associate professor in the Department of Music