Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christopher Norton visit to Seattle and Vancouver December 2012

Christopher Norton visit to Seattle and Vancouver December 2012

I met Olive and Anthony Yau at the MTNA in New York in March 2012 – Olive has a flourishing piano teaching studio in Kirkland, Seattle ( and is also the Washington State representative for the ABRSM. Her studio becomes an examination centre for the “Board” twice a year. Olive has known my music for quite a while – she had already bought it in Hong Kong (her original home) and Japan as well as in the USA. She is definitely a fan! At MTNA, I introduced her to American Popular Piano and we also talked about the Piano Festivals that have started to spring up in different parts of the world. She resolved there and then to get me to Seattle for a similar event.

I went back to the UK and the build-up to the 2012 Olympics began. I got an email from Olive saying that she and Anthony were coming to the Olympics and asked to meet, which we did - at a central London venue that got regular visits from US Olympic competitors! Here I am with Olive: 


Olive and Anthony then invited me to come to Seattle and Vancouver in December 2012 and do a variety of presentations to both teachers and students. This proved to be a different style of event from the Piano Festivals, in that I worked with groups of students and teachers in a free-wheeling way, sometimes emphasising chord playing, sometimes right-hand improvisation, sometimes doing a master-class (which often involved the whole group playing along) Good fun! Here’s a picture of me with one of the many groups:

Olive and Anthony had ordered copies from across my (piano) product range – Microjazz, Microstyles, Preludes and other Boosey & Hawkes books, all of the Connections series and of course American Popular Piano. Here’s part of their very impressive display of books:

I did hands-on workshops with teachers, masterclasses with students and an introduction to my music for all-comers. I also compered and played in a concert at Bellevue Presbyterian Church, which was a wonderful event.

All of this was to introduce me to teachers and students in Seattle. In preparation for my return visit in June 2013.

My second port of call in Washington State was at Prosser Pianos, a very impressive piano and Roland dealer in Tukwila, Washington. I talked to small groups of teachers and students most of a day and was able to give comprehensive demonstrations of both my material and the improvisation methodology found in American Popular Piano. Again, this was a way to drum up interest in a much larger event in June 2013 and this seems likely to happen at Prosser Piano as well, who have already staged Roland Piano Festivals in past years. Here’s a  picture of me working with 2 Tukwila teachers, who had a really good time by all accounts:

Incidentally, the rather exciting live performance on Youtube of Chicken Feed from the Jazz Preludes ( filmed at Prosser Pianos.

We then drove to Vancouver, where I was a guest of the BCRMTA (British Columbia Registered Music Teachers Association) who were having their Christmas lunch and kindly allowed me to do a presentation before it. I had quite a few teachers up to improvise and played quite a bit myself and there was a lot of interest in a Vancouver Piano Festival next June. Here I am mid-presentation:

This whole trip was a very generous gesture from Olive and Anthony, who are trying to figure out the best model for the return visit.Whatever it is, it will be the beginning of an exciting new phase for me in the USA.

Christopher Norton, London UK 19th December 2012