An ear-catching mood piece for an Advanced Beginner is a great learning opportunity

It was near 11 p.m. last night when my Oregon piano Penpal, Lisa, shot off three PDFs of Kevin Olson’s “Navajo Legend.” They came just as I was sorting through photos of my Landlord’s art work that had been on display in our apartment complex’s communal garage. (A basic storage area for tenants)

The one-day conversion for exhibit purposes by our very own Roger Morgan, caught my eye as I snatched a few beautiful landscapes, intending to import these pics along an iMovie track, but having no clue about choice of musical accompaniment.

For some reason, Bach, Chopin, and Debussy didn’t seem to fit.

Lisa’s serendipitous e-mail about her grandson (and piano student) Collin, having fawned over “Navajo Legend,” suddenly clicked as a possible soundtrack. It could be the perfect match for Roger’s assemblage of paintings.

Meanwhile, I sat down at my Steinway, quickly learned the piece, and parceled out clips for photo embedding. It was well past midnight before I feverishly put the final touch on my movie.

By this morning I had decided that “Navajo” had earned itself a tutorial spotlight because it was a repository of learning opportunities: drawing on awareness of interval recognition, sequences, modal and rhythmic shifts; and finally, demanding sensitive phrasing and dynamic contrasts.

It’s no wonder a teaching video followed my posted performances—one having been specifically designed to accompany a flow of art.


Navajo Legend p1

Navajo Legend p. 2

Navajo p. 3


2 thoughts on “An ear-catching mood piece for an Advanced Beginner is a great learning opportunity”

  1. A gem of a post, this! Being myself what I can now call an “advanced beginner” (would never have thought of that label !) I can never gauge wether a score is or is not within the capabilities of my level. Because learning takes me so long, I daren’t risk spending practice time on something which will turn out to difficult for me to learn through to the end. So my pieces are from books under the guidance of my teacher, but that deprives me of the pleasure of independent discovery. Now thanks to you ‘Navajo Legend’ will be my summer project (after I’ve mastered a couple of delightful little Khatchaturians!)


  2. Yes, Thanks for sharing your response to this post. I’m always reluctant to tag pieces by level, because often students don’t fit neatly into a specific category of development. A particular composition can be so impressionable and motivating, that the pure desire to learn it may stretch their skills and catapult them into a universe they thought was beyond them. The friend who sent this has the propensity to draw on diverse contemporary repertoire for her grandson to study and she will scan some of these selections and send to me. Her grandchild, Collin, is making good progress and seems to enjoy the whole musical adventure even with all its challenges. I’m glad you were drawn to one of his favorites.


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