Berklee Keyboard Method

Author: Paul Schmeling | Course Code: OPIAN-100

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Master the basics of Keyboard technique and chord voicings, and gain an understanding of more advanced concepts including blues progressions and playing three part chords in this 12-week course. Through exercises that explore the interpretation of lead sheets and chord symbols, the Berklee Keyboard Method will help you to improve your performance, harmonic vocabulary, and composition/arranging skills. By the end of the course you will be able to improvise over a lead sheet while comping chords with their appropriate voicings.

By the end of this course, you will:

Understand how to read treble clef, bass clef and play simple melodies on the grand staffUnderstand accidentals and play the black keys on the keyboardIncrease your ability to read and play different notes simultaneouslyUnderstand and play melodies with major and minor triads in right handUnderstand voice leading triadsUnderstand a lead sheet and play chords and bass with left handAdd three-part chords to your playingUnderstand altered 9ths, 13ths and Blues progressions

Lesson 1: Treble Clef

Treble clef notes related to keyboardRight hand keyboard fingering numbersMoving 5-note one hand position to various locations within treble clefPlaying a simple treble clef notated melody with right hand

Lesson 2: Bass Clef

Bass clef notes related to keyboardLeft hand keyboard fingering numbersMoving 5-note one hand position to various locations within bass clefPlaying a simple bass clef melody with the left hand

Lesson 3: Grand Staff

Grand staff notes related to keyboardMoving both hands to various 5-note positions on the grand staffPlaying simple one line melodies with both hands in octavesPlaying simple one line melodies switching hands and clefs

Lesson 4: The Black Keys/Accidentals

The black keys of the keyboard - their significance and locationMoving hand positions around which include accidentals creating major/minor tonalitiesPlaying simple one line melodies in octaves which include accidentalsPlaying simple one line melodies switching clefs which include accidentals

Lesson 5: Independence Between Hands

Studies to Increase the Ability to Read and Play Different Notes SimultaneouslyRhythmic Independence StudiesPlaying Two Notes Simultaneously in One or Both Hands

Lesson 6: Major and Minor Triads

Major and Minor Triads in Root PositionInversions of Major and Minor TriadsMelodies with Major and Minor Triads in the Right Hand

Lesson 7: Voice Leading Triads

Diatonic TriadsVoice-Leading the I IV V ProgressionThe I VI II V I Diatonic ProgressionVoice Leading the I VI II V I Progression

Lesson 8: Left-Hand Chord Playing

Voice Leading Left-Hand ChordsThe Lead SheetThe Left Hand as Both Chords and Bass

Lesson 9: Right-Hand Chord Playing

Voice Leading Right-Hand Chords"Slash Chords"Arpeggiating Right-Hand Chords

Lesson 10: IIm7 V7 Imaj7 Left-Hand Shells

The IIm7 V7 Imaj7 ProgressionLeft-Hand ShellsUsing Left-Hand Shells to Support Right Hand Activity

Lesson 11: Using the 3rd and 7th of the IIm7, V7, Imaj7

Finding and Voice Leading the 3rd and 7thUsing the 3rd and 7th in the Right Hand with Left- Hand BassUsing the 3rd and 7th to Support Melody

Lesson 12: Three-Part Chords

Adding the 9th and 13th to the Dominant 7thAdding sus 4 to the Dominant 7thComping Patterns Using Three-Part Chords

Paul Schmeling

Author & Instructor

Paul Schmeling is a master pianist, interpreter, improviser and arranger who has inspired countless students since he began teaching at Berklee in 1961. He has performed or recorded with jazz greats such as Clark Terry, Rebecca Parris, George Coleman, Carol Sloane, Frank Foster, Art Farmer, Herb Pomeroy, Phil Wilson, Dick Johnson and Slide Hampton. In the 1990s, the Paul Schmeling Trio released two inventive and critically acclaimed albums, interpreting the music of Hoagy Carmichael and songs associated with Frank Sinatra. Recently retired as chair of the piano department, he is co-author of the Berklee Practice Method: Keyboard (2001) and Instant Keyboard (2002) and the author of Berklee Music Theory: Book 1.

Ross Ramsay


James Ross Ramsay, faculty in the Piano department at Berklee College of Music, has been teaching piano for 25 years, and has been included in the "Who's Who List of American Teachers" several times. He composes and produces music for local and nationally broadcast television, radio, cable, and video programs, and has been a featured soloist on piano and keyboards with various artists touring throughout the United States and Europe. Ramsay is a product specialist and clinician for Yamaha Corporation of America, Digital Musical Instruments, and Pro Audio Division. He received a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music in 1986.

At least one year of experience on a musical instrument.

Knowledge of basic pitch notation:

Letter names of notesSome reading ability with one clefBar lines, measures, double bar lines, fine bar lines, repeatsSharps, flats, naturalsKey signaturesPhrase markingsFew ledger lines

Knowledge of basic rhythm notation:

Note and rest values up to eighthsTheir value in common meters like 4/4; 3/4Dotted note values, tiesSome ability to read these rhythms

Knowledge of basic harmony:

Basic level of diatonic concepts (helpful but not absolutely necessary)Major and minor scalesSeventh chords and chord construction, inversion

None required.

PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionAdobe Reader: current versionA basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself playing along with a background track and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity or GarageBand.

In order to complete the assignments in this course, you will need to record yourself playing keyboard or piano along with background tracks provided during the course in MP3 format. In order to do this, you must have either a MIDI keyboard that can record into your computer or a microphone connected to your computer that can record you playing piano. In addition, you will need the following computer requirements:

PC Users

Windows Vista SP2 or higherIntel Pentium 4 or higher1 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommendedSound cardCD-ROM driveKeyboard with at least four octavesSpeakers or headphones for your computerLine in from your keyboard to computer, if not using a microphoneA built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface).

Mac Users

OS X 10.7 or higherIntel Mac2 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommendedCD-ROM driveKeyboard with at least four octavesSpeakers or headphones for your computerLine in from your keyboard to computer, if not using a microphoneA built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface).


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Next Term Starts June 27

  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition Add 6 CEUs
    $1,200 + $25

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