Composer of the month – Kevin Olson

IMG_6544.JPGWelcome back! I missed March already (where did the time go?!) so here is the composer for April…Kevin Olson!


Dr. Kevin Olson is a pianist, composer, and teacher in the piano faculty at Utah State University. Dr. Olson began composing at 5 years old, and is the Composer in Residence at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP). I met Dr. Olson after a session at a music teachers conference in March 2017.

Here is video of Kevin’s students spreading this music to seniors in the community:

Popular Pieces

In Recital Throughout the Year (Elementary to late Intermediate levels from Book 1-6):

In recital

Each book features solos and duets and helpful performance strategies. The books are organized in a way that new concepts are introduced in each book, and get progressively more challenging. There is a list of concepts covered in each book, which is helpful for teachers who are looking for additional material to reinforce learning. The pieces are mostly original material, with some arranged popular music. Kevin is one of the composers who contributes material for these books. The other composers include Melody Bober, Timothy Brown, Kevin Costley, Martin Cuellar, Valerie Roth Roubos, and Judith R. Strickland. Many of the pieces are musically engaging and pedagogically sound.

Here is Song of the Sahara (duet) from book 3:

Level 8: Seven of Hearts

This is an quick, energetic piece in 7/8 time. This is rare time signature (the most common is 4/4). When you listen to the piece, it sounds like the beats are grouped into a group of 3 and then 4. Listen also for the melody in the right hand. Do you hear little “pop-pop” sounds in between the melody? Can you hear the climax of the piece toward the end of the piece, and the music quickly diminishing and fading?

Other: Sight Reading & Rhythm Every Day (Book A to 8)

Sight Reading

In addition to composing and arranging, Dr. Olson also writes a collection of books called “Sight Reading & Rhythm Every Day”.  This unique book teaches sight reading and rhythm through the intervallic approach (reading by intervals, or the distance between notes) as well as the landmark method (remembering particular landmark notes and then finding the other notes around the landmark note). Students learn rhythm through clapping, snapping, tapping, and even reciting words while clapping. There are also duets for student and teacher (great for teaching students to continue playing even if they make a mistake!). A wonderful resource to explore!

Here is a listing of all of Dr. Olson’s publications to date. 

To end, here is Kevin himself performing Impressions on Color, a book of pieces ranging from the late-intermediate to early-advanced level. There are 7 pieces inspired by a color (red, orange, green, blue, indigo, violet, and yellow).  Red is energetic; orange is joyful; blue is peaceful; yellow is happy; green is balanced; indigo is intuitive; and violet is inspirational.

Interested in starting your piano journey?

Published by hannahannika

Piano Teacher

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