Coker named All-Steinway School

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Coker College has recently earned the coveted designation of an “All-Steinway School,” making the Hartsville school just the third South Carolina college, the only Pee Dee Region college, and one of only 175 institutions worldwide to have this distinction.

To be named an All-Steinway School by esteemed piano makers Steinway & Sons, Coker met the strict requirements to have 90 percent of the school’s pianos be Steinway & Sons, Boston or Essex pianos. Coker also formulated a maintenance plan to keep all pianos in performance quality condition.

Coker College has an inventory of 12 Steinway & Sons Boston vertical pianos and 11 Steinway & Sons grand pianos. It took $600,000 and five years of dedicated fundraising to achieve this goal.

“The All-Steinway School designation demonstrates Coker’s commitment to excellence by providing out students and faculty with the best equipment possible for the study of music,” says music professor Dr. Will Carswell, Coker’s vice president for external relations.

Carswell says the prestige of being known for top-tier instruments will give Coker a competitive edge when recruiting promising music students.

“We recruit a student’s teacher just as much as we recruit a student. We have to convince a music teacher that the student they’ve been working with is going to have a strong education and will be playing, performing, and rehearsing on quality instruments. That’s what we now can assure them of,” says Carswell.

Dr. Ryan Smith, associate music professor and Coker’s music program coordinator, agrees.

“Over the years, I’ve heard professors and concert pianists say they went to a school because they had nice pianos, or that they didn’t go somewhere with a good program because that school did not have nice pianos,” says Smith. “The fact that Coker has new pianos that are very well built and beautiful instruments is going to be really attractive to potential students.”

Not only will Coker’s 20 to 25 music majors enjoy the pleasures of playing a Steinway but the students of Coker’s Community Music program will also get to take advantage of the instruments.

Smith notes that Steinways are versatile instruments, capable of beautifully voicing everything from classical music to rock and roll, so they will meet a player’s needs regardless of stylistic choice. He says that the difference between playing a Steinway piano and an assembly line product is noticeable and significant.

“It’s hard to describe tangibly, but there’s a sound quality that is different from a general manufactured piano. Steinways are handmade, and there is a real difference in the responsiveness a pianist gets when they are performing,” says Smith.

School officials stressed that this distinction would not have been possible without the support of Coker’s fundraisers and donors.

“Becoming an All-Steinway School exemplifies the college’s determination to live up to and extend the fine legacy that is Coker’s heritage and our student’s future. We continue to be enormously grateful for the loyal support of Coker’s alumni and friends who are making this initiative possible,” says Charles Sullivan, chair of the Advancement Committee for the Coker College Board of Trustees.

On Friday, October 27 at 7 p.m., Coker College will host an event with Ron Losby, president of Steinway & Sons, and Steinway artist David Osborne to celebrate the college’s designation as an All-Steinway School. This event will be free and open to the public. At 8 p.m., the college will host its first annual Coker Society gala, a private event for donors and supporters.

Author: Duane Childers

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