John Wheeler Boyd, Jr.


John Boyd, now retired, teaches music part-time at Southwestern Adventist University, where he taught theory and composition, voice, piano, and organ from 1998. He served as chair of the music department from 1998 to 2001 and then as minister of music at the Keene SDA church, the church for SWAU, from 2001 to 2006. He rejoined the music department on a full-time basis in 2006 before retiring in 2012.

Boyd, an only child, was born into a larger musical family. His father was the oldest of three brothers, the youngest having six children, among them being several gifted singers. John's music study began with piano lessons at age seven. He would later relate how he was exposed to orchestral music:

When I was in the fourth grade, Dad bought a set of classical music records from Reader's Digest. I wore those things out. From that point until now, my favorite symphony is Franck's D minor Symphony. Another work that I listened to a lot in my grade school years was Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Those early listening experiences led me to be pretty open-minded about all types of music in later years.

Although he enrolled as a theology major at Walla Walla College, now University, in 1965, by the end of his first year, he changed his major to music. He studied piano under Robert Hunter, Bruce Ashton, and Dan Myers; organ with Melvin West and Judi Myers; and music theory and composition with Ashton, Glenn Spring, and West. At that time, all of these teachers were young, having recently completed degrees, and Boyd remembers his experience with them as an important preparation for later graduate study.

Following graduation from WWC with a B.Mus. in music education in 1969, he began his teaching career at Sheyenne River Academy, now Dakota Adventist Academy, conducting band and teaching instruments and piano. Two years later he accepted a position at Laurelwood Academy in Oregon, where he taught for the next fourteen years, until it closed as an academy in 1985. He completed an M.Mus. at Lewis and Clark College in 1974.

The experience at LA, ending as it did in controversy within Oregon church membership, was a difficult one for Boyd. He later recalled how it affected him at that time:

When Laurelwood closed, I took the option of retraining and picked up a math minor. I intended to get out of music and as far away from Adventist education as I could after what had happened at Laurelwood. It had been a painful experience, and I intended to go into public school teaching. Hal Hampton, who had been the principal at Laurelwood, had become principal at Campion Academy [in Colorado]. He contacted me about doing the band and teaching algebra, and I decided to stay in the system.

He began teaching at Campion Academy in 1986, teaching full-time there until 1994, when he reduced his teaching to part-time in order to complete class work on a doctorate in music theory and composition at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. While at UNC, he taught music theory, tutored graduate music theory students, and was a frequent accompanist. Secondary areas of study included accompanying and choral work.

While writing his dissertation, he taught piano and instrument lessons at Union College from 1996 to 1998, completing his doctoral degree, a D.A., in 1998. His dissertation was a composition titled Concerto for Piano and Wind Ensemble. He accepted the position at Southwestern Adventist University that autumn.

Boyd has composed music and done extensive arranging for choirs and instrumental groups. He responded to a commission for a composition for the 2002 South Texas Band Festival by writing Fiesta, a work he conducted during that event. He wrote Fantasia: an Ode to Joy, which was performed in February 2008 at the SWAU music festival in their annual Night at Myerson program, held in the Morton Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas.

Boyd is still an active composer and arranger and plans to create a website in 2014 where he can share his music and solicit commissions for unaccompanied solos to full ensembles. He is also planning on developing a series of videos teaching playing music by ear from a classical music perspective, an updated version of Music Speaking the Language, a practical syllabus he wrote for a workshop at Sunnydale Academy in 1990.


Sources: Interviews with and information provided by John Boyd, 2007, 2008, and 2013; Charlotte Henderson, "Great Talents Combine," Southwestern Spirit, SWAU alumni magazine, Fall 2002, 4,5; Personal Knowledge.


John Wheeler Boyd


Concerto for Piano and Wind Ensemble (conceived for the graduate pianist and wind ensemble)


Suite of Traditional Forms in Modern Style

Stretching Out (12-tone jazz)

Quartal Ragtime

Polytonal Blues


Psalm 34

Psalm 136


Fiesta - composed for Raul Aguilar and the 2002 South Texas Band Festival (challenging for 3 solo trumpets, woodwinds, and percussion; not hard for 2nds and 3rds; last section incorporates La Cucaracha.)



Meeting at Night

My Heart Leaps Up

Psalm 23

Winter Wheat




Prelude in Romantic Style


Suite for Flute and Piano




Fractals - A Tone Poem


Heavenly Music (also in available in a sextet version performed on CD for Toronto GC)