The New, Improved Microjazz

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  • Andrew offers playing advice online through his Video Feedback Service.
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It has been four decades since Christopher Norton’s remarkable Microjazz series practically reinvented piano education in this country and beyond with its infectious cocktail of classical technique and popular contemporary stylings.

Microjazz quickly won recognition the world over as a landmark series, sold over a million copies, and spawned a plethora of spin offs that included More Microjazz, Microstyles, Improvise Microjazz, Microjazz Duets and collections for a wider range of instruments.

The repackaging of the piano solo materials as the Microjazz Collections in 1997 simplified the brand, and made the progression through levels more obvious. Those Collections were again rebranded in 2011, and are receiving another facelift from this year. This time, the Microjazz Collections are also joined by two wholly new, more advanced music books.

In this review I will introduce these new stars in the Microjazz galaxy, and consider the latest updates to the existing books.

But first, let’s celebrate this incredible publishing phenomenon by recapping its extraordinary history…

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Elena Cobb: Recital Piano Solos

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Elena Cobb is without doubt one of the single most inspiring educators and committed visionaries that I have ever had the privilege of meeting.

A musical force of nature, she has made a global impact in music education through her Star Prize events at London’s Royal Albert Hall which attract young players from around the world, her festival and awards sponsorships, online networking (her Facebook community for Russian-speaking teachers has more than 10,000 members) and her music publishing.

Building her publishing business EVC Music from scratch, the last decade has seen Cobb supporting new music, in the process launching and expanding the careers of several excellent educational composers. It would be easy to overlook that Cobb is herself an outstanding composer.


Having recently signed to Hal Leonard as global distributors for EVC Music, her music is once again in the spotlight, and there’s never been a better time to remind readers of two excellent collections which showcase Cobb’s own, brilliant creative voice…

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The Pianist’s Behaviour

Setting our piano journey in its living context.
Written by Andrew Eales.

With the majority of our interactions and interpersonal relationships evolving exclusively online over the last year or so, it’s no surprise that some are now expressing some anxiety about resuming our lives in the “real world” again.

I’m surely not the only one who has watched with a mixture of bemusement, concern, and at times mounting horror as friends, colleagues and forum folk have, over the lockdown months, become increasingly cranky.

Won’t it be a bit awkward bumping into that piano teacher who has spent the last year pedalling bizarre conspiracy theories?

How about those friends and colleagues who have been so rude to, or about each other, seemingly oblivious that their acquaintances were collectively grabbing the popcorn and reading along in stunned disbelief?

Whether we’ve been drawn into the fray, stood back in judgment, or remained completely aloof, none of us can honestly claim to have been entirely blameless through this period of adaptation. Sometimes, this pandemic has brought out the best in us. Sometimes not.

It is time for us all to take stock. When it comes to behaviour and relationships, there may be situations where we need to hit the “reset” button.

Each tentative step towards the “new normal” brings growing recognition that both in-person and online engagement are very much here to stay, and will contribute to a more complex reality in which the quality of our personal and relational behaviour will be as crucial, and more visible than ever.

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Returning “…from Chopin’s Land”


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MUSIC FROM CHOPIN’S LAND
In 2020, I was commissioned by PWM Edition to record five films showcasing piano music by Polish composers. Captivated by new musical discoveries, I have continued to independently explore and review this repertoire…


At the start of this series I gave an account of my surprise 2020 visit to Poland, and in subsequent articles I have discussed some of the best piano music I discovered on my trip, together with the tutorial films that I and a team of international colleagues created to showcase this music to the piano teaching community worldwide.

As the series draws to a close, I would like to share a couple more books that were featured in the PWM promotion, as well as a series of three special collections which actually bear the project name, Music from Chopin’s Land.

And then the punchline! I will end this final post in the series with a short reflection on the lasting lessons I have learnt about piano pedagogy following on from my visit to Chopin’s land…

So, firstly, a few extra reviews and videos for your interest and enjoyment…

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Christopher Norton’s “Connections” Series

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Connections started life as a series of eight repertoire books, offering a staggering 185 original compositions by the popular educational composer Christopher Norton.

First published for the North American market by Frederick Harris Music, the series had recently been re-published worldwide by Norton’s own company, 80 Days Publishing. The series now also includes books 9 and 10, each including a further nine Norton originals suitable for more advanced players.

Let’s take a look…

Continue reading Christopher Norton’s “Connections” Series