Chord Playing and Improvising: Christopher Norton

This is the first of five articles written especially for this blog by renowned composer and educator Christopher Norton. These posts are intended to encourage classical players (and teachers) to explore jazz and pop styles. Deep in Thought is the first featured piece, and you can download it here for free. Chris also offers some practice tips and suggestions too. Over to Chris…


(Connections 4)

Connections for Piano has been very popular since its launch in 2007. It is a major part of the new Royal Conservatory syllabus in Canada .

It features a variety of pop and jazz styles, with (free) backing tracks, and it is also available on Superscore.

There are 11 levels, Preparatory and 1-10.

Deep in Thought is a subtle, mysterious 3/4 piece. There are composer performances on Youtube of all 11 Connections volumes (and lots more besides!); do subscribe to my YouTube Channel!

Here’s the complete score of Deep in Thought for you to dowload:

You can hear the solo piano part, here:

And here’s Deep in Thought‘s chord progression:

Play each individual chord at first – savour them!

Then play the progression, without the track, then with the track. Here’s the track for you to download:

Try your own rhythms (with the track).


Play the opening 2 bars of Deep in Thought and improvise freely. Here’s the track for the following two-bar loop:

Use the scale below (up or down, starting on any note)

Do this without the supplied track, then with the track.

Some ideas to get you started:

1. Create your own right-hand melody (or melodies) above the left hand pattern

2. “Answer” an “A” idea with a “B” idea

3. Try various structures: AB, ABA, AABA, AABCAA….

4. Try playing very freely!

5. Go beyond the scale pitch-wise.

Connections 4 is available from ( in Canada)

Enjoy Christopher Norton’s performance of Deep in Thought by clicking on the link below:


Christopher Norton


Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.

For more information, please visit the publications page, here.

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