American Organ Academy

Samuel Backman

March 17, 2021

My studies with John Schwandt trained me not merely to be an organist, but a well-rounded musician. His holistic approach to musicianship is a tremendous gift to the community of organists and organ-lovers insofar as it integrates the organ, its multifaceted history, its mechanical and tonal intricacies, and its repertoire into a broader cultural context. Oftentimes, the organ and its music have existed on the peripheries of musical culture, but Dr. Schwandt's serves as an apt antidote to this problem. My lessons with "JS" have positively transformed my musicianship so far beyond my activities at the organ console. Whether I'm composing, arranging, playing jazz or stride piano, conducting an ensemble, studying a score, or teaching, I am frequently aware of the tremendous positive impact that his teaching has had upon me. Furthermore, his warm and familial demeanor, his joie de vivre, and his keen sense of humor reflect the joy of musicianship. Above and beyond all of this, it is clear that he genuinely cares for his students' growth, development, and well-being!”

- Samuel Backman DMA ’20. Director of Sacred Music at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Minneapolis, MN