New! Live Workshops

Fun with Music Theory: Writing Better Chord Progressions

Enrollment Has Ended

Do you want your songs and compositions to sound more interesting? Do you want to understand why chords function the way they do and why they sound a certain way? This workshop is for musicians who want to tap into music theory concepts to create compelling chord progressions and explore how chords work within a composition. Through live online instruction, break-out groups, and weekly music projects, you’ll learn about diatonic chords (chords within the same key) and how they function. You’ll also learn how to add more tension to your chord progressions by using secondary dominant chords, and finally, you’ll learn what modal interchange chords are and how they can affect the sound of a chord progression. When you’ve completed this workshop, you will have composed an original 32-bar chord progression.

  • Weekly on Wednesdays, Starting July 20
  • Includes 3 sessions
  • 7 - 9 PM ET

$249.00 for all 3 sessions


Learn More & Enroll
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Workshop Sessions

3 sessions | 1 per week | 6 hours total

This first session will focus on diatonic harmony functions and how you can create harmonic progressions based on diatonic harmony. We will look at all seven diatonic chords in major tonality and discuss the tendencies of each chord. We will also look at typically used diatonic chord progressions to hear what these tendencies sound like in the context of creating music.

Learning Outcomes

  • Define and identify harmonic function
  • Write and play basic diatonic chord progressions
  • Create an eight-bar progression with diatonic chords

This session will explore secondary dominant chords. We will define what secondary dominant chords are and discuss how they create tension and release within a chord progression. We will learn how to recognize and implement secondary dominant chords within a major key.

Learning Outcomes

  • Define a secondary dominant chord
  • Apply a secondary dominant chord to your composition
  • Write all the secondary dominant chords in C major

This session will introduce modal interchange chords, which are chords borrowed from a parallel tonality. These chords are used to create different colors than that of the diatonic chords in the key at hand. For example, if I were in the key of C major, I could borrow a chord in the key of C minor. This is sure to add a little flavor to the progression.

Learning Outcomes

  • Define what a modal interchange chord is
  • Apply a modal interchange chord to their composition
  • Identify commonly used modal interchange chords from parallel minor


What You’ll Learn

  • How to define and identify harmonic function
  • How to write and play basic diatonic chord progressions
  • How to apply a secondary dominant chord to a common chord progression
  • How to apply a modal interchange chord to a common chord progression
  • How to identify commonly used modal interchange chords from a parallel minor

Meet Your Instructor

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George W Russell Jr.

A native of Pittsburgh, PA, inspirational Jazz Pianist George W. Russell, Jr. is a performer, a composer, and an educator. His performances range from a solo piano, to a groove-oriented jazz trio, to a soulful, fresh-sounding larger ensemble that arouses the listener's intellect and, most importantly, touches their soul. His playing is filled with passion, fire, soul, and most of all, spirit.

Currently George is the Chair of the Harmony and Jazz Composition Department at the Berklee College of Music. Prior to becoming chair, he served as a professor of Harmony and Piano at Berklee. George has been awarded the Ted Pease Award for Excellence in Teaching, along with the Curriculum Development Award for the Writing Division. George has also been recognized with the highest award that Berklee gives to faculty, the Most Distinguished Faculty Award.

He graduated with his B.S. from Duquesne University and his M.M. from the New England Conservatory of Music. Russell has performed with Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Ernie Isley, Cecil McBee, Semenya McCord, Bob Moses, Tiger Okoshi, Billy Pierce, Richard Smallwood, Stan Strickland, and Lenny White.

Requirements

Recommended Materials and Prerequisite Knowledge

  • Completion of Developing Your Musicianship, offered by Berklee Online for free on Coursera.org
  • Working knowledge of basic music theory
  • Access to a keyboard or other musical instrument. If you do not have a physical keyboard or piano, you can use a virtual keyboard provided on the Berklee Online platform.

General Workshop Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements for enrolled students to access the learning environment and participate in Live Sessions. If you opt to use any recommended software for your workshop, please check that your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for those as well.

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Higher Learning with Lower Stakes

Live Workshops are ideal for you, if you’re looking for a shorter, more free-form learning experience from Berklee Online—no deadlines, and no grades—just three live weekly sessions with a Berklee instructor, and an award-winning curriculum to explore at your own pace.

  • Live Classes Every Week
  • No Deadlines or Grades
  • Study at Your Own Pace
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Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT’L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

Academic Calendar, Policies, and FAQs

July 15
  • Last day to withdraw from a Live Workshop and be eligible for a refund
  • Last day to transfer funds from a Live Workshop to another Berklee Online program
July 18
  • Live Workshops begins
  • Last day to enroll in a Live Workshop
  • Last day to change to a different Live Workshop
July 22
  • Last day to submit for a medical withdrawal from a Live Workshop
August 7
  • Last day of Live Workshops

Workshop Change

Students may request to transfer their enrollment/payment to an alternate Live Workshop (provided there is room in the alternate workshop) through Monday of the first week of the semester. After this time, a student cannot change into an alternate workshop. To request a course change, students should send an email to registrar@online.berklee.edu.

Withdrawal Policies

All withdrawal requests must be sent to the Berklee Online Registrar’s Office in writing and must include the following information:

  • Your full name
  • The workshop you are enrolled in
  • Reason for withdrawing

Requests to withdraw will not be accepted over the phone. Requests to withdraw must be emailed to registrar@online.berklee.edu.

All withdrawals from workshops need to be received prior to 5 PM ET the Friday before the workshops are opened. No withdrawals will be accepted after this date.

If a student is requesting an exception to the withdrawal policy for medical reasons, please see the Medical Withdrawal/Transfer section below for information on this process. If a student feels they have extenuating circumstances other than medical reasons and wish to request an exception to our policy, please see the appeal policy.

Please note students are expected to have reviewed the computer requirements for each workshop in advance of the workshop beginning. Computer or software issues are not cause for an exception to the withdrawal/refund policies. If a student is experiencing issues with their hardware or software, they can contact Berklee Online’s Student Support via telephone at 1-617-747-2146 option 3 or by email at support@online.berklee.edu.

Workshop Transfers

Students enrolled in a live workshop cannot request to transfer their workshop to a future semester. Students can opt to move their funds from a Live Workshop to another Berklee Online course or program. Requests to transfer must be in writing to registrar@online.berklee.edu and received by Friday prior to the opening of the Live Workshops.

Medical Withdrawal and Transfers

Students who need to withdraw for medical reasons may be eligible for a refund. A medical withdrawal will be considered only if accompanied by a written verification from a medical doctor on letterhead stating the student cannot complete the workshop due to an illness or disability. Please note the doctor’s note must be in English to be considered. The withdrawal will not be allowed if a student fails to submit medical documentation to the Berklee Online Registrar’s Office prior to the end of the first week of the workshops. See above for the exact due date for a medical withdrawal.

The request for a medical withdrawal must be sent in writing to registrar@online.berklee.edu.

Refund Policies

  • By 5 PM ET Friday prior to the opening of the Live Workshops: 100% refund of tuition paid.

Refunds will be based on when the withdrawal is received in writing. No additional refunds on courses in progress will be given once the Live Workshops are opened. Students can find the withdrawal and refund dates above. Please note that all refunds will be provided in United States dollars (USD). Berklee Online cannot be held responsible for any currency rate fluctuations between the date of purchase and the date of the refund.

Students should be aware of the following details:

  • If a student’s payment was made by check, the refund will be issued in the form of a check.
  • If payment was made by credit card, every attempt will be made to process the refund back to the card used within 30 days. In the event we are unable to do so, the refund will be issued in the form of a check.
  • If payment was made using a Berklee Online eGift card, a refund will be issued back to the eGift card. eGift Cards are not redeemable or refundable for cash. Please refer to our eGift Card Terms and Conditions as well as our eGift Card FAQs for more information.

For questions regarding the payment methods we accept, please contact finance@online.berklee.edu or call 1-866-BERKLEE or 1-617-747-2146 if outside the US, Monday through Friday 9 AM – 5 PM ET.

Credit Card Payments

Berklee Online accepts the following credit cards:

  • American Express
  • Discover
  • JCB Card
  • MasterCard
  • Visa

If you do not wish to use the online process, please contact us directly at advisors@online.berklee.edu or our Finance Department at finance@online.berklee.edu or call 1-866-BERKLEE or 1-617-747-2146 if outside the US, Monday through Friday 9 AM – 5 PM ET.

PayPal

Berklee Online accepts payment via PayPal. Students can choose PayPal as an option during the checkout process.

eGift Cards

Berklee Online accepts eGift cards purchased online via GiftUp. eGift cards can only be applied towards eligible course and certificate program offerings. Further information regarding the use of eGift cards can be found within our Terms and Conditions.

Wire Transfers

Berklee Online has partnered with Flywire to streamline the tuition payment process for our students. You will be able to log in to your Flywire account, at any time, to track the progress of your payment and you will also be notified via email or text when your payment is received by Berklee Online.

Before initiating your transfer, please take note of your Student ID or Order Number in order to help ensure your payment is posted to the correct account. Your Student ID can be found on your My Home page, and your Order Number is located in your Order History.

https://payment.flywire.com/pay/payment

How much is a Live Workshop?

Live Workshops are Berklee Online’s most budget-friendly offering at $249. There are no registration fees.

Can I reach out to the instructors for extra help or for additional questions?

No, instructors will be available to students during the 2 hour live sessions held each week. In our 12-week courses, instructors are available to answer questions outside of live class sessions.

Will I be able to access my course after it has finished?

You will be able to access the workshops for 30 days after the end of the workshop. After that 30-day period, we are unable to allow students further access to the workshops. If you have any questions, please contact Student Support via email at support@online.berklee.edu.

Is there coursework and assignments that will be graded?

While there is the course material to review and instructors may provide optional assignments, none of your work will be graded.

How long will I have access to course material after the three sessions are over?

You will have access to course material for up to 30 days after the workshop has ended.

What happens if I miss a class?

Each class is recorded, so you can always play back any sessions that you have missed. We do recommend joining during the scheduled class time if you can so that you can interact with your instructor and peers.

Will I receive course credit for a Live Workshop?

The Live Workshops are a non-credit offering.

Who are the instructors?

Our instructors are Berklee faculty and widely-recognized experts in their field. All instructors are Berklee Faculty or professionals in the industry

How long are the Live Workshops?

Each Live Workshop will be 3 weeks in length with a 2 hour live session held each week.

Are textbooks, software, and hardware included in tuition costs?

No. The required/recommended materials for Live Workshops are not included in tuition.

How many workshops can I take at a time?

You can choose to enroll in as many live workshops as you would like. You should keep in mind that some of the scheduled live sessions for the different workshops could overlap. We recommend reviewing the days/times for each workshop before enrolling.

What happens if my Live Workshop is canceled?

While we will make every effort to run all of our live workshops, sometimes it is necessary to cancel a workshop. If this happens, you will be sent an email letting you know your workshop has been canceled. You will be given the option to transfer into a different workshop, move your funds to another Berklee Online program, or request a refund of tuition.

Where do I go to find the workshop I enrolled in?

Simply log in to Berklee Online and go to your “My Home” page. Links to the workshops you are enrolled in will be located under the “My Courses” heading.

How do I participate in the Live Workshop?

Live workshops consist primarily of live, synchronous sessions hosted via Zoom on the Berklee Online platform. These sessions will be interactive and will include instruction, breakout group discussions, question and answer portions, and more. In addition to the live sessions, you will have access to discussions where you can interact with your peers, as well as the ability to upload projects you’re working on for feedback from your peers.

Who do I contact if I am having technical trouble with the course?

You may contact Student Support by email at support@online.berklee.edu or telephone at 1.866.BERKLEE (or 1-617-747-2146 if outside the U.S.), Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM ET. Student Support will assist you with any problems you have and will do their best to provide a response to your question or inquiry within one business day.

Are there assignments that need to be completed? Will I receive feedback on assignments?

Each workshop will include material for students to go through as well as suggested projects for students to complete. These are not required and will not be graded or receive feedback from an instructor. Students are encouraged to provide feedback to their classmates.

Will I receive a grade and/or credit at the conclusion of the Live Workshop?

No, Live Workshops are non-credit workshops. Students enrolled in these workshops will not receive college credit and will not be graded on their participation.

Do I get a certificate or letter of completion when I finish each workshop?

No, you will not be issued a certificate or letter of completion upon completion of the Live Workshops.

Can I request a transcript or proof of completion?

The Live Workshops are not part of a student’s academic record. For this reason they will not be represented on a transcript. In addition, we cannot provide proof of completion of the workshop. We can, however, provide proof of enrollment in the workshop if that is needed. Requests of this nature can be emailed to registrar@online.berklee.edu.

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