Continuing on my series of “living composers”, October will be….Christopher Norton!
Christopher Norton is a British composer, adjudicator, clinician and teacher. Born in New Zealand, he moved to the UK in the late 1970’s, and continues to travel the world extensively, giving workshops and presentations, and while continuing to compose for musicals, orchestras, ballet scores, and of course, piano music.
I met Christopher in 2013 (see my previous blog post here).
Christopher has been one of the first composers to write educational music in contemporary, jazz, rock, and blues styles for young pianists, while maintaining the classical traditions. Microjazz, published in the 1980’s introduces contemporary music styles to beginning and intermediate students. Microjazz for other instruments is available (for example, guitar, clarinet, flute, bassoon, trombone, saxophone, and more!). His Connections series is leveled similarly to the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) levels 1-8, and many of his pieces appear in the RCM syllabus, and the Conservatory Canada syllabus. Norton’s American Popular Piano (APP) etudes are part of the exam requirements for Conservatory Canada’s Contemporary Idioms Syllabus. The APP etudes lay out methodical and logical strategies for improvising and vamping (from my personal experience, they are a great way to start thinking about improvising and to grow in your improvisational ability).
Christopher Norton often posts videos about how to perform his pieces. What a valuable resource, to have a live composer tell us how to play his pieces! He is on Facebook and Youtube, and often comments on performances of his music.
Prep B: Struttin’
Level 2: Feelin’ Good
Level 3: Positively Swinging
Level 5: Scamp
Level: Struttin’ About
Level 7: Fantasy Bossa
Level 8: Jane’s Song
I have taught all the pieces above, and students love them! There is something new, yet familiar and fun about them. I have I highly encourage anyone interested in the piano to try out his pieces. You’ll have lots of fun!