Sylvia Coats is Professor Emerita of Music at Wichita State University, where she taught piano pedagogy and class piano courses for twenty-eight years. She was inducted into the WSU Academy for Effective Teaching in 2015 and serves on the AET steering committee. She previously served on the faculties of the University of Oklahoma, Norman, and Texas A&M University, Kingsville. The graduate and undergraduate programs in piano pedagogy, which she directed at Wichita State University, are recognized as leading programs in the field and draw students from the US and abroad.
Dr. Coats presently performs in a Piano Duo with Judith Fear. She was a member of the Sotto Voce Trio for twenty years, who performed contemporary music throughout the United States. Appearances have included universities, recital series, and master classes in Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, Nevada, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. The unique trio comprised of soprano, saxophone, and piano premiered many new works. They produced a set of three CDs of their commissioned works. Coats played with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra for thirty years.
Indiana University Press published Coats’ book, Thinking as You Play: Teaching Piano in Individual and Group Lessons, in 2006. She has also published articles in the journals American Music Teacher, Clavier Companion, Keyboard Companion, The Piano Adventures© Teacher, and Piano Pedagogy Forum.
She has presented sessions on piano pedagogy and Baroque and Romantic dance forms both nationally and internationally. With Denise Celestin, WSU Professor of Dance, she was featured at the 2017 Iowa State University C-HOP Festival (carillon, harpsichord, organ, piano). International appearances include Beijing, Tianjin, and Hong Kong China as well as well as the International Society of Music Education conferences in Scotland, Brazil, Italy, Greece, and Malaysia. She has been in residence at Punahou School in Honolulu, Westminster Choir College, and Augustana College. She presented at Music Teachers National Association conferences in New York, Austin, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Kansas City, and Milwaukee, the World Piano Pedagogy Conference in Cherry Hills, NJ, and several National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy conferences in Chicago. Other presentations for MTNA state and local associations were in Alaska, Kansas, Arizona, Missouri, Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. She has also adjudicated many piano competitions and festivals.
Coats served as the Secretary/Treasurer and twice on the board of directors for Music Teachers National Association. Other MTNA service includes Chair of the Certification Commission, West Central Division Young Artist and Chamber Music Chair, president of the West Central Division, and president of the Kansas Music Teachers Association from which she was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2007. She is currently president of the South Central Kansas Music Teachers Association.
Coats holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in the Process of Group Environments from the University of Colorado where Dr. Guy Duckworth was her major professor, and bachelor and master’s degrees in piano performance from Texas Tech University where she studied with Louis Catuogno.
She lives with her husband, Casey, in Derby, KS, where she teaches piano. Casey is a retired petroleum engineer. They have two children, Michelle Leyba, a CPA tax accountant in Denver and Charles Jason Coats, a veterinarian in Las Vegas.