Chord Playing and Improvising 3: Christopher Norton

Today I welcome back world-renowned composer Christopher Norton to my blog. Chris is contributing a series of guest articles, each one offering a free download of one of his piano pieces, as well as plenty of practice tips, suggestions and advice. A Gentle Touch, an early intermediate level piece, is number three in the series and it comes from his very popular collection Connections. I hope you enjoy playing it.

A Gentle Touch (from Connections Book 3)

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.  It is also available on Superscore. Look for superscore-music on the App store.

There are 11 Connections levels –  Preparatory, then 1-10.

A Gentle Touch is a very expressive waltz, with a great emphasis on good tone production, real legato and use of the pedal. There are Christopher Norton performances on all digital platforms (Spotify, iTunes etc) Just search for the composer’s name and the title! Here’s what it sounds like as a solo piece:

There are composer performances on YouTube of all 11 Connections volumes (and lots more besides!): – do  hit subscribe!

Here’s a link to the composer solo performance on YouTube:

Here’s the music:

The chords used in this piece are very jazzy “added note” chords:

Play and savour each chord.

Play the entire chord progression with the track. Click on:

And then gradually try simple chord rhythms of your own.

The track tells the student (and teacher!) a lot about the style.

Scales and modes you can use:

Simple left hand voicing (with scales) to play (without the track):

Some ideas to get you started with your right hand ideas, either with the track or using the chords above without the track:

  1. Create your own right hand melody (or melodies)
  2. “Answer” an “A” idea with a “B” idea
  3. Try various structures: AB, ABA, AABA….
  4. Try playing very freely!
  5. Even go beyond the scales pitch-wise.

Connections 3 is available from ( in Canada)

Try playing along with Christopher Norton:

You can read Christopher’s first post in this series, here, and the second, here.

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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