Monday, April 2, 2012

Frankfurt and New York, March 2012

Two of the biggest events in my calendar are the annual Music Fair in Frankfurt – Musikmesse – and the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) conference in the USA – This year, these events overlapped, so I flew from Frankfurt to New York after 2 days at the Messe. 

In Frankfurt, I had my “own” stand as part of the huge Schott Music stand:

 The person on my right is Grace Chew, a distributor in Malaysia with whom I have worked a lot in the past. She is very keen to have me back in Malaysia in the not-too-distant future.

Apart from talking to music dealers and other industry people, I was asked to do 2 presentations on my German-language book Rock Pop Basics - Der Pop - Klavier - Workshop fur fortgeschrittene Anfanger.
 My demonstration was actually on the Schott stand and apart from people interested in hearing about it, I picked up quite a lot of passing traffic. One German dealer liked the sound and look of the book so much she asked me if I’d written anything else!
I was also asked to play for a reception at the end of the Thursday and was delighted to be joined by a Schott author, Ellen Mayer, who is a great percussionist. I played Level 6 of American Popular Piano with her, both the solo pieces and the duets with tracks and she picked up on the style and groove of each piece right away. The audience seemed to really enjoy the effect. Here is Ellen and yours truly after our performance:
 I was with my fellow-director of Novus Via, Clarke MacIntosh, for the 2 days of the Frankfurt fair and we had useful meetings with various people, including examination boards, technology companies and distributors.

On the Friday we both flew to New York, staying at a hotel on the Avenue of the Americas. After a set-up day, we had our usual very colourful stand displaying the entire APP series. Here’s Richard Holbrook, who’s been with us from the beginning, at the stand:
 The Novus Via presentation was at 8 am on the Sunday morning – not a great slot in the light of potential jet-lag! Scott McBride Smith, my co-presenter, was taken ill and I found out shortly before the presentation that I was flying solo. However, the presentation, emphasizing improvisation, went down well with the crowd and created quite a bit of activity at the stand. 

I met a number of people I know well while in New York – Marianne Fleming Bryan (a Words with Friends opponent!) Jovanni-Rey de Pedro, a fine pianist I met at the Australian conference, Peter Mack and Roxana Anklesaria-Doctor from the Indian event, Andrew Hisey, my Connections editor…the list goes on and on. And I met many teachers who are enthusiastically using American Popular Piano with their students. 

I played music on the stand much of the time and also gave sometimes quite in-depth one-to-one presentations on how to use the Improvisation Modules. Here I am with one of my “students”:

Traffic to the exhibition areas was slow this year – MTNA was in New York after all! And the market is imperceptibly changing, with digital platforms about to revolutionise sheet music in the way that e-readers have revolutionized the distribution of books. We had meetings with various people who are going down that route.

Christopher Norton Piano Festivals are gradually picking up pace. Apart from the Festivals in Toronto, Minneapolis and all points Australian already in place, I had fruitful discussions with teachers from Seattle and with Roxana in India about further Festivals before the end of January 2013. Do look at the details (from Australia) below if you’re interested in putting on a CN Piano Festival in your area. And check out

Christopher Norton Piano Festivals 

Who is Christopher Norton? 
London based composer, arranger, educationalist and producer Christopher Norton is universally regarded as the leader in his field. 
World-famous for the Microjazz series, Christopher's other award-winning titles include the Concert Collections of original solo piano repertoire; the Essential Guides to pop styles; and the Piano Preludes. 
Christopher’s publications are represented on the AMEB, ANZCA, NZMEB and other examination syllabi widely used in Australia and New Zealand. 

What is a Christopher Norton Piano Festival? 
Over a 2 day period, Christopher Norton works with groups of students (Improvisation Workshops) and individuals (Master-classes).
At the end of the second day, there is a Gala Concert at which most of the students perform – either solo, duetting with the composer or in their improvisation groups. 

How many students are normally involved? 
Piano Festivals work best with between 48 and 100 students, over a two-day event, with students grouped for both the Improvisation Workshops and master-classes in appropriate Levels. The students can all be drawn from one music school or from a cluster of private studios or music schools. 

What instruments are needed? 
You will need access to a number of digital keyboards for the Improvisation Workshops. Ideally, there would also be a good-quality piano for the master-classes and for the Gala Concert. Grand pianos have been used for past Festivals, as well as better-quality digital pianos, or good-quality upright pianos. 

What sort of venue(s) work best? 
You will need: a venue large enough for up to 12 students, keyboards and stands, as well as room for teachers and interested observers. Local schools and churches, as well as music retailers, have been used successfully already. You may need a larger
venue for the Gala Concert, seating a minimum of 150 people. 

How is a Piano Festival structured? 
The Festivals are normally spread over 2 days. There are normally 5 or 6 sessions per day – morning and afternoon sessions, plus the Gala Concert on the evening of the second day. 
Students are put into level-appropriate groups. Each student takes part in one Improv Workshop session and one master-class session over the 2 days, and some perform at the Gala concert 

Example timetable of a 2-day Piano Festival: 
Day 1: 
9.00-10.00 10.15-11.15 11.30-12.30 
1.30-2.30 2.45-3.45 4.00-5.00 
Preparatory Level Improv sessions 8-12 students Preparatory Level Masterclasses
Level 1 Improv sessions 8-12 students 
Level 1 Masterclasses
Level 2 Improv sessions 8-12 students Level 2 Masterclasses 
If there are students at Levels 6 and above, their sessions could be at 6.00 and 7.00 (and even later if required) on Day 1. 
Day 2: 
9.00-10.00 10.15-11.15 11.30-12.30 
1.30-2.30 2.45-3.45 4.00-5.00 
5.00-6.00 6.30 -7.45 
Level 3 Improv sessions 8-12 students Level 3 Masterclasses
Level 4 Improv sessions 8-12 students 
Level 4 Masterclasses
Level 5 Improv sessions 8-12 students Level 5 Masterclasses 
Dinner and “Meet the Composer” event Gala concert 

What student preparation is needed? 
Once students are registered for a Piano Festival, their teachers are supplied, via Hal Leonard Australia, with appropriately leveled Repertoire Books and Etudes Books from Christopher Norton’s American Popular Piano series. 
Students are asked to prepare 2 pieces from the appropriate Repertoire Book and to work on the relevant Improv Etudes. 
Students will also prepare a solo piece by Christopher Norton to present in the Masterclass, if they choose to perform. The piece can come from any publication: graded examination repertoire, Microjazz, Connections and American Popular Piano etc. Naturally, original copies of the music must be used in the Master Class. 

What will the festival cost? 
The fee for a 2 day festival is $A2500. This fee is payable to the organiser. If your festival extends over 2 days, each subsequent day is $A1000. 
This fee covers: Chris’ daily fee and expenses, Chris’ flight and transfers, accommodation, admin cost, plus 2 books per student (valued at over $35). The organise will be responsible for all the bookings and payments of the expenses mentioned here. 
The organiser pays for Christopher’s international airfare. 

What other costs should I consider? 
A venue supplied with piano and keyboards for the Improvisation Groups and master- classes (and possibly a separate venue for the Gala Concert) 

What are my sources of revenue? 
• Student registration fees (you decide the fee)
• Auditing fees throughout the 2 days – observers of the sessions.
• Gala Concert ticket sales (you decide the ticket price)
• Sponsorship (eg local businesses, regional music teacher associations) 
If carefully planned, with the right number of students registered, revenue should comfortably exceed costs. You decide how much to charge. For example: 
$A60 registration fee for 72 students $A10 observers fee for 20 teachers/observers
$A Concert ticket fee for 50 concert attendee 
$A50 registration fee for 36 students $A15 observers fee for 20 teachers/observers
$A10 Concert ticket fee for 50 concert attendee 

Can you supply more detail about how each session works? 
Improvisation Groups
With groups of between 8 and 12 students, all at the same level, either at separate keyboards or sharing, Christopher Norton first does improvisation sessions. These are fast-paced and entertaining and start with simple rhythm games but lead quite quickly to extended and sophisticated improvisation from every student in the group. 
Each participating student will have prepared a solo piece by Christopher Norton, from any publication: graded examination repertoire, Microjazz, Connections and American Popular Piano etc.
Students receive a “mini-lesson” on their piece, in public, and are given useful and applicable tips on how to play the piece better and how to play the piano better. 
Gala Concert
Christopher Norton chooses students from each master-class and from the Improvisation Groups to play at a final Gala Concert, to which all students and parents are invited. 

Quotes from recent organisers of Christopher Norton Piano Festivals: 

The Christopher Norton Event was tremendous! Christopher taught the students in a calm, yet innovative way. The closing concert was sold out and was a wonderful opportunity for the many students who performed. I’ve rarely seen such happy and confident young performers! Taking into account the $250 donation that the FMTA had pledged to the event, the Norton weekend earned approx. $1070 for our general fund! Margaret MacDonald, Fredericton Music Teachers Association, Canada 

It turns out Christopher Norton is not just a talented and prolific composer, he is truly a master teacher! From our youngest five-year-old to our most advanced adult, Mr. Norton made everyone feel at ease while achieving incredible results in their playing. I
watched in awe as our students responded to telling observations about technique and musicality. One mother said the difference in her 
child's playing was like "removing a screen" after hearing years of "timid" playing from her daughter. The improv camp was wonderful and we hope Mr. Norton will come visit again! Leslie Gereghty,
Recreational Music Center, San Diego, USA 

How to Book? 
Christopher is currently already booked for events in Toronto between 27th April and 6th May 2012, in Minneapolis between 3rd and 13th June, in Australia between September 25th and October 25th. Please note there is significant interest in these events and will Festivals  are booked on a first in first served basis. If you know the dates you are interested in having Chris work with your students, please contact:

Liselotte Jongedijk (Canada) 
Jon Michael Iverson (USA mid-west)
Olive Yau (Pacific North-west)
Gina Wake (Australia and New Zealand) 

Please also note that the information above is merely a guide as to how a festival with Christopher may run. 
You can choose the structure that best suits your school or teaching studio or business. You decide how much to charge each participant, observer and concert attendee.