From walking his dogs, cracking jokes, jamming out on the piano or striking a yoga handstand, Jonathan Coyle always has a big smile on his face and a lightness in his heart! Read all about how he began playing below:
SHOUT! How did you start playing?
JON: I was born and raised in Long Island, New York in a small town called Port Jefferson, named after our third president! My mom was a junior high music teacher and band director and my dad was a court stenographer. My piano skills likely stem from my mom’s musical genes and my dad’s dexterity. When I was 5 years old, my babysitter would play our piano – I would sit next to her and imitate what she was playing. That’s when my parents noticed music was my natural gift.
SHOUT! Who are your favorite musicians?
JON: Like every good Long Island boy, I had a steady diet of the music of Billy Joel and learned many of his songs. Cool fact: Billy Joel went to high school with my mom. That made his music even more special to me. I’m also a huge fan of the Beatles, Chopin, and 90s one-hit wonders to name a few.
SHOUT! When did you start performing?
JON: Some of my friends and I started a band in high school. We would jam in my basement and it was such a blast! I never imagined that it would be something I’d be able to do as a full-time job, but here I am, twenty years later, performing daily on stage. And I still get to sleep in almost every morning!
SHOUT! How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
JON: We play hundreds of songs a night off the top of our heads. Sometimes we forget words, sing a little bit off-key or play the wrong chords. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we do our best and have fun in the process.
SHOUT! What is your biggest challenge as a musician?
JON: It is certainly a challenge to play a lot of the same songs and not get tired of them. My way of dealing with that is to forget about the song and engage with the people in the audience. When I see people clapping and singing along, I stop thinking about myself and remember that I’m giving enjoyment to others. Usually, that’s enough to keep me going and feeling good about what I do. Occasionally, a little Jameson doesn’t hurt either.
SHOUT! How long do you practice/day?
JON: However long it takes to get my hands warm and my creative juices flowing.
SHOUT! What do you practice?
JON: Depends on my mood! Sometimes I warm up with classical music to get my fingers moving, or jazz to inspire my improv side, or whatever’s playing in my head at the moment.
SHOUT! When did you first start performing at the Shout! House?
JON: I first began playing at the Shout House San Diego in 2008. The rush I felt walking on the stage for the first time was so powerful; I’ll never forget it. I was nervous and shaking – I even forgot most of the words. But the crowd was great and they cheered me on anyway. As I worked to become a better player and entertainer, I discovered abilities I had no idea existed in me. It opened new doors for my life. Truthfully, I have always been more introverted and generally avoid large social settings but, suddenly, when I’m up onstage, there is an outgoing, confident part of me that takes over. It’s an amazing feeling of connection! What I’ve learned about dueling pianos (or any form of entertainment) is that people just want to feel something. And they can tell right away if you’re authentic.
There is a rawness in what we do onstage that makes everyone feel alive and energized.
SHOUT! What is your favorite thing about playing at The Shout! House?
JON: The energy, the crowd, and the opportunity to share my passion. I’m lucky to have a job where I do exactly what I love and spread that love for music to others. Not everyone can say that about their life. I’m very grateful for Shout!
SHOUT! Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians/piano players/performers:
JON: Be true to who you are. Find inspiration from the artists you admire, but always let your true self come through in your music.
People feel that and will be drawn to your sound if you’re authentic to YOU.
SHOUT! Do you have a quote that you feel describes you?
JON: This quote doesn’t describe me but it is something that I am constantly reminding myself…
“Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” -Lin Manuel Miranda
SHOUT! Any other fun facts you think your fans may be interesting in hearing about?
JON: In the spirit of the quote above, I am currently obsessed with Hamilton and can probably rap and sing the entire musical. Even if you are not a writer or into “musical theater,” this is a work of such extraordinary genius that I encourage everyone to go listen right now!
Check out Jon’s Yoga Inspired concept album titled “Harmonic Movement.“
Available on Spotify and all other music platforms!
Follow Jon on Instagram