New! Live Workshops
Piano Chords and Harmonizations: A Guide to Keyboard Harmony
How many ways can you play a chord? What rhythms or shapes can you use to enhance your music and what notes other than the basic chord tones can you play?
Whether you are a solo pianist, a songwriter, or an experienced accompanist, this workshop will provide you with the skills to create interesting and effective harmony parts that will elevate your performances and your music.
Starting with triads, this workshop will guide you through how to properly construct all chord types and apply them with a wide range of performance techniques and styles. We’ll cover block chords, effective voice leading, counterpoint, open chords, passing chords, tensions, groove, arpeggiation, embellishment, as well as more advanced harmonic approaches. We’ll also look at how to interpret lead sheets with their various (and sometimes confusing) chord symbols. This workshop includes many musical examples of the techniques we’ll be exploring, as well as practice drills to aid you in developing your command of keyboard harmony.
- Weekly on Thursdays, Starting October 20
- Includes 3 sessions
- 7 - 9 PM ET
$249.00 for all 3 sessions
3 sessions | 1 per week | 6 hours total
Session 1: Chord Construction: How to Build, Voice Lead, and Groove with Triads and 7th Chords
Thursday, 7 - 9 PM ET
We’ll start the first session focused on constructing and playing all triad and 7th chord types. Once we’re confident with their construction, we’ll move on to playing them using inversions and voice leading within a harmonic progression.
Also, we’ll work on applying a variety of rhythms to our chords to develop a stronger groove, and break up the notes into patterns to create a more interesting harmony part.
The lesson will finish with a review of diatonic chords from the major and minor scales and look at interpreting slash chords.
After this session, you will be able to:
- Construct triads and 7th chords
- Demonstrate voice leading in a harmonic progression
- Create strong grooves in a variety of music styles
- Interpret slash chords
Session 2: Changing the Color of Your Harmony with Tensions and Open Voicing
Thursday, 7 - 9 PM ET
This session will begin by discussing the use of tensions on each chord type. We’ll look at commonly used tension combinations within the context of major and minor key tonalities and discuss the implication of style in choosing when to use them.
We’ll explore adding passing chords to a basic harmonic framework in order to give it more depth and energy. The session will conclude with open position harmonies; using drop 2 techniques to spread out the notes of the chord as well as the use of ostinato patterns.
After this session, you will be able to:
- Demonstrate tensions in harmony
- Add passing chords to a basic harmonic progression
- Use ostinato patterns in our harmony
- Practice drop 2 techniques with our chords
Session 3: Deciphering Lead Sheets and Advanced Harmonic Interpretation
Thursday, 7 - 9 PM ET
We begin this session looking at a variety of lead sheets and deciphering the various chord symbols, along with the implications of style and musical setting. We will also explore the use of incomplete “shell” voicings as well as two-note guide tone voicings.
In addition, we’ll look at using upper structures in harmonization, along with other intervallic shapes such as 4ths and clusters. We’ll look at how to harmonize a modal song and how to use the pentatonic scale to create harmony. Finally, we’ll learn how to add dominant and diminished passing chords in order to create more harmonic movement.
After this session, you will be able to:
- Properly interpret chords in lead sheets
- Practice shell and two-note guide tones
- Demonstrate using upper structures in harmonization
- Practice harmonizing modal songs
- Explore creating harmony using intervals of 4ths
- Use chords derived from the pentatonic scale
- Add additional non-diatonic passing chords
What You’ll Learn
- How to form all close position triads and 7th chord types
- How to voice lead chords with a focus on efficient movement and counterpoint
- How to interpret slash chords
- How to play chords rhythmically to support a song’s groove
- How to use broken structures of chords for variation
- How to add passing chords to create more interest
- How to add tensions to create more colorful harmonies
- How to use upper structures for more complex harmonizations
- How to create modal harmonizations
- How to systematically practice chords and harmonic patterns
Meet Your Instructor
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.
Recommended Materials and Prerequisite Knowledge
- Basic keyboard skills, including note reading in treble and bass clef.
- Some experience with scales and chords is helpful but not required.
- For students without prior knowledge of scales, arpeggios, and diatonic harmony, Piano Essentials – Scales, Chords, Arpeggios, and Cadences for the Contemporary Pianist is helpful.
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.
- Latest version of Google Chrome
- Zoom meeting software
- 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
Discover More Live Workshops
Academic Calendar, Policies, and FAQs
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
- JCB Card
If you do not wish to use the online process, please contact us directly at email@example.com or our Finance Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-866-BERKLEE or 1-617-747-2146 if outside the US, Monday through Friday 9 AM – 5 PM ET.
Berklee Online accepts payment via PayPal. Students can choose PayPal as an option during the checkout process.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.