Artistry at the Piano
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Introducing Kevin Coan

Kevin Coan is a recognized expert in piano pedagogy. Trained by a private instructor before pedagogy courses became the norm in most colleges and conservatories, Kevin has dedicated himself to a lifelong pursuit of the best techniques of piano training. He has been a life-long advocate of early multikey training ever since his first encounter with the Oxford Piano Course in 1969. He added the principles featured in Artistry at the Piano in 1989 after being given a package of Artistry samplers to be distributed to his pedagogy students in a course offered at Antietem Bible College that year.

Kevin began his musical training with Trudy Diershaw in 1964. He also studied under Maxine Campbell and Virginia Ballard, who was then president of the California MTA. Kevin is a graduate of Stanford University, and pursued post- graduate study at Bob Jones University.

The interesting aspect of Kevin’s musical involvement is that it has always been a sideline activity. Kevin made his living primarily as a software implementation specialist. His piano teaching has always been a sideline interest until New Years Day 2007, when he learned that an incurable cancer would soon limit his ability to continue his software endeavors. Kevin was forced into retirement in 2009, when he decided to limit his activities to a handful of private piano students.

Kevin has long deplored the ineffectiveness of the fragmented approach featured in many popular piano methods. He continues to be frustrated as he sees excellent materials go out of print. Although limited by his disabilities, he hopes to continue to create interesting music to support the multikey and Artistry causes. His compositions are available as free downloads, as he does not want financial concerns to limit the use of his materials. “I only have a limited time to support the cause of musical excellence,” he explains. “I am grateful to Artistry Alliance for its willingness to feature my works.”

Multikey Magic by Kevin M Coan

Multikey Magic was written to fill the need for musical reading and performance pieces that utilize the full range of keys. Most elementary music is composed to support the middle C approach, in spite of the fact that research continues to support the fact that the middle C approach is the least efficient method of developing reading ability. As a result, there is little music that supports the multikey and intervallic approaches. The author hopes that this work will help to fill that gap.

Multikey Magic was written to provide interesting music that can be used as a beginning piano method, as sight- reading material for students using a multikey method, or as reading material for students using other methods when those other methods lack utilization of the full range of keys. The pieces were composed to remain in the elementary range of technical skills, but to stretch the student’s capacity in terms of theoretical application.

The first reaction of most teachers to the music in Multikey Magic is to exclaim, “These pieces are not beginner’s music!” In fact, however, every piece is very much within the capacity of a student with less than six months of lessons. They simply exceed the key signature usage that is typical of modern piano teaching.

In addition, the pieces in Multikey Magic utilize a much wider range of rhythmic skills than is typical in most elementary music. The success of students using the Artistry at the Piano method demonstrates the wisdom of teaching both simple and compound time simultaneously. If a teacher has not tried this methodology, the author encourages the teacher to try this approach. Band teachers across the nation have been doing this for decades, and yet most piano teachers view compound time, and even the introduction of eighth notes, to be something past the capabilities of beginning piano students. Teachers who have used the Introduction to Music component of Artistry are well aware of the value and success of the early development of these rhythms. Multikey Magic supports this approach by providing interesting music in a wide range of rhythms.

Multikey Magic also uses a much wider reading range than is typical of most beginners’ pieces. By using a few carefully selected guide notes, the student is capable of mastering the entire staff and even the ledger line notes in a very short period of time. Multikey Magic includes pieces that use a range of 37 notes, not including the sharped and flatted notes. Many of the pieces include shifts in hand position that require no more than a change of octave. While this requires little technical prowess, the musical effect is rewarding. Parents and friends are more than impressed when students play pieces that travel the full range of the keyboard, and yet the demand on the student is not excessive. Often it is the teacher that is surprised at how easily students master these simple pieces.

The pieces at the primer level come in two broad groups: pentascale pieces, which remain entirely in five finger position, and full-scale pieces, which use all eight tones of the scale, divided between the hands. Finger crossings are intentionally avoided, as are contractions, extensions, and finger substitutions. There is one challenge piece that includes a couple of contractions and extensions. This piece can be omitted if teachers wish to avoid those types of challenge at the primer level.

Multikey Magic is a work in progress. At the present time, only the primer level is complete. For students using traditional methods, these pieces are appropriate for level 1 and possibly even level 2, when familiarity with the various keys is lacking. For students using a multikey approach, the material lies well within the primer range. The author hopes that students will enjoy making music in a variety of rhythms, keys, and keyboard locations. Parents and friends will be delighted with the early success of students who master these pieces.

Multikey Magic Zip (complete)

Multikey Magic PDFs (individual pages)