Each song is learning experience for E-town professor
February 23, 2017   //   By:   //   Achievements, Features


Justin Badgerow has played the piano since he was 6 years old, but, after 30 years of musical experience, he is only familiar with half of the music he encounters.

Badgerow, a pianist and associate professor of music at Elizabethtown College, enjoys all aspects of musical performance, whether it be playing with large orchestras, accompanying a chamber ensemble or performing a solo. These experiences have exposed him to a variety of musical pieces, many with which he might be unfamiliar. “It’s fun because you’ll never run out of new music,” Badgerow said.

The professor has provided piano accompaniment for various organizations and ensembles. As a musical theater fan and an avid sight-reader, Badgerow plays for musical theater, concerto, or solo competition auditions, providing the background music for soloists. Sometimes, he goes back after musical theater auditions to play in the pit orchestra, performing live as a keyboardist. He still does a bit of that in the Lancaster area, but musicals are no longer his main focus.

When you leave the experience, you take away some of that interpretation.”

“Now, the playing that I do most outside of the classroom would be performing with other colleagues that I’ve met over the years,” Badgerow said, referencing his opportunities to play with other musicians around the country and abroad. The professor finds that even when playing a familiar piece, an accompanist must follow the lead’s unique interpretation of that music. “You have to be on your toes, and that’s kind of exciting,” Badgerow said. “When you leave the experience, you take away some of that interpretation.”

Badgerow has served as a pianist at churches and other special events for many years, but when an organization contacts him now with a need for a musician, he serves as a middleman, offering these opportunities to his student pianists. He incorporates those real-world experiences into the classroom, teaching students how to play hymns and worship songs, prepare appropriate repertoire for a variety of situations and how to accompany singers.

Badgerow teaches piano to six to 10 students in weekly lessons, accompanies various students and faculty members for recitals and pairs up piano students with vocalists or instrumental soloists to work collaboratively.

“I try to give all of our pianists an opportunity to play new pieces and learn from other musicians,” Badgerow said.

About the Author :

Rebecca Easton is a sophomore at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. She is currently studying English with a concentration in professional writing, and is pursuing a minor in communications. Her primary interests in these fields include journalistic writing, copy editing and photography. She currently works for the Elizabethtown College Center for Student Success as a writing tutor. She also works for the Office of Marketing and Communications.