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How To Create A Chord Progression

Chord progressions are the bedrock of music, so whether you are a beginner or advanced musician, you will want to learn how to create and use them. They can hone your skills, broaden your repertoire and help you take your listeners on an emotional journey.

What is a chord progression?

A chord progression is at least two chords played in sequence. The pattern of chords is often repeated during a verse, chorus, or bridge of a song. The chord progression is based on the key and the scale of the song. First, the musician must establish a key or group of pitches that is the foundation for the song. Major and minor keys have seven note scales, and these notes of a scale can be combined to form chords. A scale is a specific sequence of notes that is arranged by an ascending or descending order of pitch. The scale may use whole tones, semitones, or a combination of both. For example, in the key of C major, the scale contains the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B (all the white notes.) The distance between two notes is called an interval.

What is a chord?

A chord is two or more different notes played simultaneously. Most basic chords are triads, which are made of three notes:

  1. A root note
  2. A third, which is four semitones above the root
  3. A perfect fifth, which is seven semitones above the root.

Triads can also be used to build more complex chords, such as seventh and ninth chords. These are made by adding notes above a triad. The intervals between the notes determine the quality of the chord. Examples of different qualities of chords include:

  • Major
  • Minor
  • Augmented
  • Diminished
  • Major Seventh
  • Minor Seventh
  • Dominant Seventh

The essence of these chords differs. Generally, major chords sound happy, minor chords sound sad, and diminished chords sound scary.

How does a chord progression work?

In its simplest form, a chord is typically three notes played together. However, these are not just random sets of notes. They help define different sections of a song, as well as develop the overall structure of a song. The chord progressions take the listener on an emotional journey. Therefore, most songwriters use more than one chord in a song.

It is not necessary to use all the chords of your chosen key. Many well-known songs only use about four chords. To create a chord progression, you have to place a few of these chords one after another, in whatever order you choose. Composers often write chords in Roman numerals. This allows a musician to play the same chord progression in another key or scale. Capital letter numerals represent major chords, while small letters indicate minor chords.

The “I” chord is the root chord and the key name. For example, the “I” chord in the key of C is the C chord. It is the “home” chord. As the music moves through different chords, the listener feels various levels of tension and release. Therefore, the “I” chord is important because all the other chords want to resolve to it. Moving away from this chord creates tension. Most progressions will also end on the “I” chord.

The IV and V chords are farther away from “home.” They tend to have more energy. It is essential to understand that chords have different feelings. They may feel resolved or tense.

Common chord progressions

It is a good idea to learn a few common chord progressions that can be used to play many songs. For example, the first, the fourth, and the fifth (I – IV – V) chords sound good together in a progression for most types of music. For instance, in the key of C, the I-IV-V chord progression would consist of the chords C, F, and G. In the key of G major, this progression would become G-C-D. Another common chord progression is the I-V-vi-IV. In the key of C major, this progression would consist of C – G – Am – F.

Many patterns often appear in genres such as popular music, rock, jazz, and classical music. Using chord progressions is a fun and instructive way to experiment with your music.



How To Hold Drumsticks

Contrary to popular belief, playing the drums is more than just picking up some sticks and banging away. Drumming takes skill, technique, and lots of practice to learn. Whether you choose in-person instruction, or like many others learn how to play drums online, you need to set a foundation. One of the essential techniques every beginner needs to master is how to hold their drumsticks. Not only will they help you select the right grip for a particular sound or type of music, the proper grip will also keep your hands and wrists healthy and reduce fatigue and joint pain. Here’s a crash course in different grips you can use to develop your skill as a percussionist.

Balance Point

Before we get started, we need to discuss one fundamental element of holding your drumsticks and that’s balance point. The balance point is the “sweet spot” of the drumstick. It is the place on the drumstick that will give you the best control over your sticks which is essential to learning how to hold drumsticks. The balance point will help you increase your drumming speed as time goes on and also helps to reduce muscle fatigue while you practice and perform.

How to Identify Your Balance Point

First, you’ll need to be sitting in front of your drum or practice pad to find it. Professionals recommend using your snare drum when finding balance point. Here’s a step-by-step guide for finding your balance point:

  1. Place the drumstick on your index finger, tip facing you.  
  2. Use your thumb to hold the drumstick in place to prevent it from rolling off your fingers.
  3. Bring the tip of the drumstick up and then let it drop.
  4. Take a moment to feel the bounce and rebound of the drumstick. You should get about 6-8 bounces from each strike.
  5. Alter the location of your index finger along the drumstick until you reach a location which gives the best rebound of the drumstick.


You’ll need to play around with the balance point for a while to find it, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t identify it at first. Watching professionals, like Robert “Sput” Searight, can help you find your own balance point. For most drummers, the “sweet spot” will be about two-thirds of the way from the tip of the stick. Once you truly identify your balance point, mark it on your drumstick until it’s natural.


How to Hold Drumsticks: Traditional Grip

Good for: Beginners

The traditional grip actually hails from military bands and originally created for the “side drum,” the snare drum military marching band drummers wear on their side but can be used to play with a standard drum kit as well.

How to hold drumsticks with Traditional Grip:

  1. Reach your left hand out as if you were reaching out for a left-handed handshake.
  2. Put the drumstick in the webbing of your hand, the fleshy area between your thumb and index finger.
  3. Extend over the stick with your thumb, resting it on the first joint of your index finger.
  4. While playing, let your left forearm rotate as if you were turning a doorknob. Guide your left stick with your fingertip, and you use your pinky to steady the stick from below.
  5. Hold your right-hand stick in an American matched grip (see below).


How to Hold Drumsticks: Matched Grip

Good for: Beginners

Matched Grip will most likely be the primary technique you’ll be taught during your first drumming lesson. In Matched Grip, both hands hold the drumsticks in the same way. This grip style works best when you hold each stick near its center. This best allows the stick to bounce off the drumhead. There are three variations of the Matched Grip: American, German, and French, which we’ll go into greater detail with below.


How to Hold Drumsticks: American Grip

Good for: Beginners, Nearly All Music Styles

Here’s how to hold your sticks American style:

  1. Hold out your dominant hand, palm facing down, index finger pointed straight out, parallel with the floor.
  2. Curl in your index finger and then slide the drumstick between your index and thumb. Your index finger should wrap around the drumstick as if it was pulling a trigger. Don’t apply a lot of pressure with your thumb, instead just keep in mind its job is to hold the stick in place and give you extra control when you’re drumming.
  3. Adjust the stick in your grip until you find the balance point.
  4. Curl your middle, ring, and pinky fingers under the drumstick to help your index finger grip it. Again, don’t grip too tightly, you want to make sure the stick has slack enough to bounce.
  5. Now hit the drum by flexing your wrist to drive the drumstick up and down.
  6. Be sure to keep your palm tilted about 45-degrees and use your wrist to drive your drum beats.
  7. Adjust your fingers and thumb to give the stick more or less bounce until you find your balance point.
  8. Repeat steps for your other hand.

The American grip is the midpoint between the French and German grips, which you’ll learn below. It’s a great starting point for learning how to hold drumsticks.

How to Hold Drumsticks: German Grip

Good for: Powerful Drumming like Timpani and Bass Drums in Classical Music, Marching Band, and Hard Rock.

How to hold drumsticks in German Grip:

  1. Hold the sticks at the balance point you did with the America Grip above.
  2. Hold palms parallel to the surface of the drum, most times facing the floor. If the drum is set up vertically, you’ll need to turn your palms at an angle which lines your palms to the drum surface.
  3. Curl your middle fingers underneath the stick so it rests comfortably on them. As a note, in the German Grip, the pinky and ring fingers aren’t as important as they are in other grips and just fold loosely beneath the stick.
  4. Bend your elbow out. This gives you the control and power German Grip is known and used for.
  5. Strike the drum using a wrist motion, avoid using the arms, shoulders, or fingers. The sticks should give a good bounce, if they don’t adjust as needed.

The German Grip is totally about power. It’s loud, ringing, and confident. Think Lars Ulrich of Metallica. His drumming almost overpowers the other instruments, but in a good way.

How to Hold Drumsticks: French Grip

Good for: Finesse and Precision as in Jazz, Technical Rock, and Technical Drumline.

French Grip is a little different from other grips because you use the fingers to drive drumming instead of the wrists. Here’s how to hold drumsticks in French Grip:

  1. Hold the sticks at the balance point you did with the America Grip above.
  2. Turn the palms in toward each other, perpendicular to the floor. Keep hands a comfortable distance apart, usually about 10-12 inches.
  3. Curl your middle, ring, and pinky fingers underneath the stick to provide support and control. You need all your finger strength for French Grip.
  4. Tuck your elbows in. Find a natural placement for them, they don’t need to be tight to your sides, let them hang naturally.
  5. Strike the drum with your fingers, keeping your wrists downward and forearms and shoulders natural.

Learning how to hold your drumsticks is a foundational skill when you learn how to drum online or in person. Practice often and soon you’ll master the techniques above! If you feel like a little extra instruction from a professional musician would help, consider taking a class with Yousicplay’s virtuoso drumming instructor,  Robert “Sput” Searight. Sput is a six-time Grammy award-winner who will not only evolve your drumming skill but teach you about musicality and finding your “voice” as a percussionist.

The 7 Best Vocal Warm-Ups for Singers

The 7 Best Vocal Warm-Ups for Singers

Singing doesn’t just happen; it takes practice and development. That’s why singing, like any endurance or energetic activity, should always involve a generous vocal warm-up. Whether you are just doing your daily hour of practice or singing at the Royal Opera House, a focused 10-20 minutes of warm-ups will prepare the voice to sound its best and preserve it for decades to come.

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What are Vocal Warm-ups?

Vocal warm-ups prepare a performer’s voice for singing or acting. Vocal warm-ups are necessary to not only prepare the voice to sing but to care for and preserve the voice for the future. Vocal warm-ups should exercise multiple facets of vocal technique like breath control and articulation. Ideally, you should spend 10 to 20 minutes warming up your voice before singing.  

Why Do I Need to Warm-up My Voice?

Warm-ups are essential to keeping your voice healthy, sounding its best, and preventing damage.

They also help you develop your skills and extend your range gently. In short, warm-ups relax your singing muscles similar to the way a runner stretches their legs before running.  

There are many benefits to doing warm-ups. When done properly, they can:

  • Improve vocal quality
  • Improve singing duration
  • Improve breath control
  • Improve articulation
  • Expand vocal range in a safe, gradual manner
  • Reduce the risk of voice loss or injury
  • Reduce vocal and muscle tension
  • Reduce vocal cracking or breaking

Ultimately, when you consistently do warm-up exercises, you will strengthen your voice and improve your vocal technique over time.

Perfect Your Posture

Your body is your instrument, so the way you hold it will greatly affect your sound. There are two things to keep in mind when getting into your singing posture: it must be flexible enough to allow for expansion and it has to be efficient so you don’t strain your voice.

Ideally, you’ll be standing up when you sing. Singing happens in the entire body, so we’ll start from the bottom and work our way up:

  • Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and directly under your hips. This gives you a balanced foundation for singing – giving you stability while not creating any tension in the body. 
  • Keep your knees soft, opting for a loose position. If you feel your knees locking or straining, loosen up. It’s also for your safety – sometimes locking the knees can cause a singer to faint. Keep those knees soft!
  • Your hips should be directly over the knees in a slightly tucked position. Untucked, they can create tension in the lower back. Too tucked and you can collapse your diaphragm and chest, constricting your breath.
  • Your chest should be open, shoulders rolled back. When the shoulders are rolled back into their proper place, the chest automatically rises and opens up, allowing for lung expansion. The shoulder should be low and back. If you feel them sneaking back up toward your ears, just take a breath in, and then on the exhale, roll your shoulders back to reopen the chest.
  • Finally, the head. Imagine there is a string running from the top of your head down to your feet. When you lightly pull the string up, your chin raises, extending the neck and putting the jaw and throat in a neutral position. Ears over the shoulders.

When you put all the elements together, you put your body into alignment. This allows for maximum flexibility and efficiency.

Breathing Warm-Ups

Start your warm-ups with breathing exercises. These exercises will bring oxygenated air into your body, rejuvenating it, preparing it for doing more complex vocal exercises, and help you practice breath control. Here are two exercises to begin with to warm up your diaphragm (not from the chest!) for singing and helping you work on breath control.

  1. Diaphragm Breathing: Get in your proper posture making sure your chest and shoulders are relaxed. Breathe in through your mouth for five seconds, pushing the air deep into your diaphragm, feeling your belly fill and expand. Slowly exhale for five seconds. Continue breathing like this for one or two minutes.
  2. The Hisssssss: Staying in your same posture, inhale through the nose for five seconds. When you exhale, exhale through the mouth making a hissing “sss” sound.

Gradually work towards longer inhales and exhales as you build greater lung capacity and breathe control.

The 7 Best Vocal Warm-Ups for Singers

There are countless vocal exercises you can do to prepare for singing and improve your vocal technique. We’ve chosen seven of our favorites that exercise the voice in different ways, many of them used by our Yousicplay instructors like Chrisette Michele and Myron Butler.

1. Jaw Looseners

How it helps vocal technique: Releases facial tension

In the modern world, there’s a lot of jaw clenching. In this exercise, we’ll work on releasing the jaw (not jutting out the chin) and dropping it low. 

Start by pretending to yawn with your mouth closed (Beware: pretending will likely lead to an actual yawn). Feel where your jaw drops. Repeat ten or more times to build muscle memory. We have to train the jaw to fall lower for singing than we would when we are talking.  

Next, we are going to massage the jaw to remove tension. Using your fingers, massage the area below the cheekbone where it meets the jawbone. Massage the area in small circles to stimulate blood flow and loosen tension in the jaw and face.

2. The Yawn-Sigh Technique

How it helps vocal technique: Relieves tension and improves breath control 

What’s more relaxing than a nice, deep yawn? Yawning relaxes your jaw, throat, tongue, and facial muscles. This exercise is pretty easy.

Drop your jaw wide and inhale slowly as if you were yawning. Resist the urge to tense up, instead keeping the jaw and tongue completely relaxed. Exhale slowly as you close your mouth emitting a sigh or audible breath. Try to keep the teeth apart while you bring the lips together. Relax into the exhale. Repeat as often as needed. You can also play with pitch and duration once you master the basics of the exercise. 

3. Humming

How it helps vocal technique: Stretches the vocal cords, improves breathing, and relaxes facial muscles.

Humming is one of the most satisfying types of vocal warm-ups and it’s also easy to do. Start by relaxing your face and body. Place the tip of your tongue behind your bottom front teeth. Inhale through the nose and on the exhale, make a “hmmm” sound with your jaw open and lips closed. Hum notes, sliding up and down your vocal range. Now on the next exhale, increase the humming vibration to further relax the face. Continue to increase the vibration to your comfort level. 

Once you’ve mastered this warm-up, move into an accelerated version by opening your mouth and making an “ahhh” sound while still humming notes. Challenge yourself with longer durations as you or your teacher deems appropriate. 

4. The Lip Buzz

How it helps vocal technique: Loosens the lips.

For this warm-up, you simply try to make a motorboat sound on the exhale by making your lips vibrate as you blow air through both the mouth and nose at the same time. Intermediate-level singers can also include pitch slides on the exhale for an extra challenge.

5. The Two-octave Pitch Glide

How it helps vocal technique: Transitions your chest voice into your head voice.

Inhale and on the exhale make an “eeeee” or “ohhhhh” sound, gliding up and down through all 12 of the chromatic pitches of a two-octave range. 

6. The Siren

How it helps vocal technique: Expands vocal range and stretches vocal cords. 

Embrace your inner six-year-old and wail like an ambulance! Similar to warm-up #5, exhale into an “oooo” sound and go from the lowest note in your range up to the highest and back down again. Keep the sound continuous and flowing until you get back to the lowest note in your range. It should sound like a fire truck or other emergency vehicle’s siren. Repeat multiple times.  Only expand your range when you can comfortably do so – don’t force it! It’s more important to go through the different vocal registers without cracking than to try to hit high C.

7. Tongue Twisters

How it helps vocal technique: Improves vocal articulation and pronunciation, as well as warms up and loosens the tongue, mouth, and lips. 

When you sing, your audience needs to be able to understand the words. Tongue twisters train the brain and mouth to transition effortlessly between challenging syllables. Start slow with short phrases that are difficult to say fast. Once you master the speed and articulation, try repeating them in different pitches.

Here are a few of the most common tongue-twisters: 

  • Stupid superstition!
  • Sally sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
  • Sounds abound when the mouth is round
  • A synonym for cinnamon is a cinnamon synonym
  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood

Vocal warm-ups should always be an essential part of a singer’s practice. When practiced consistently, you’ll notice a positive change in your vocal technique, as well as keep your instrument well-tuned and well cared for. As with any new practice, start slowly and build as time goes on. 

If you need more instruction, consider taking a class with Yousicplay’s professional vocal instructors like Chrisette Michele, who can teach you to sing with soul. If you are looking to focus on vocal technique specifically, check out Noel Schajris’s class. No matter which instructor you choose, they’ll teach you all aspects of singing to help develop your voice safely and at your pace. Join thousands of other students who are literally singing their praises!

Written by Tom Martin



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How do you play a C-Major Scale?

How do you play a C-Major Scale?

How do you play a C-Major Scale?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking keyboarding lessons online or in person, C-Major will be the first scale every beginner starts with and will come back to time and time again. C-Major is also commonly referred to as the key of C. Great composers, such as Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn, wrote nearly all of their masses in C-Major as well as using it for some of their symphonies. But C-Major didn’t just impress the white-haired-wig-wearing crowd; it also conjured up a certain feeling according to some musicians. Bob Dylan famously believed C-Major to “be the key of strength, but also the key of regret.” Western musical theory is grounded in C-Major, so it’s only logical when you learn to play the keyboard, you begin with C-Major.

C-Major Scale

What is the C-Major Scale?

C-Major is a major scale based on C as the tonic and is comprised of the pitches C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. There are eight notes in the scale, and every note is natural on the C-Major scale, meaning it does not have any sharps or flats. It begins at the note C and plays up to the next C, an octave above on the keyboard. C-Major is one of the most common key signatures used in music and is commonly the first scale learned on the keyboard.

Why is the C-Major Scale So Popular?

The biggest reason C-Major is usually the first scale beginners learn is that it only uses the white keys, therefore, has no sharps or flats. It also helps those taking keyboarding lessons online as it makes many aspects of learning simpler such as reading music, memorizing notes, understanding theory, and learning harmony and chord progressions to name a few.

Fingering Notation

Fingerings is the term that refers to the position of the hand and fingers when playing the keyboard. When learning and exercising the scales, as we are doing now, we use the right fingerings. This will set your foundation in the development of proper techniques. Some piano sheets and instructional guides will tell you which fingers to use by assigning them a number as seen below. No matter which hand you are using, the number always lines up in accordance with the type of finger (or thumb) it is.

1 = thumb

2 = index finger

3 = middle finger

4 = ring finger

5 = little finger

How to Play the C-Major Scale

As a beginner, Middle C will be your anchor when playing the keyboard. It is located in the very middle of the keyboard. It will be the first white key in a set of three with two black keys in between. Place your right thumb (1) on Middle C and then let your remaining fingers fall on the white keys to the right of Middle C. Your right hand will line up with the keys like this: 

Thumb (1) = Middle C

Index Finger (2) = D

Middle Finger (3) = E

Ring Finger (4) = F

Little Finger (5) = G

Press Middle C with your thumb to play the note. Following by going down the line playing D, then E, then F, and finally G. You did it! You’ve just played the first five notes of the C-Major scale. 

Now it’s time to play the full C-Major scale. Start with the first three notes you played when you located Middle C: C, D, and E. Instead of playing F with your ring finger (4), tuck your thumb under your three fingers and slide your hand down to play F with your thumb. Your other four fingers are now in place to play the remainder of the scale: G, A, B, and then C, but this C is an octave higher. Practice until you have the movement down.

Now let’s add the left hand! The left hand is a mirror of the right. The left hand starts with the pinky on C and steps up to the thumb which is on G. Then the middle finger crosses over the thumb and plays the A. The pointer finger and thumb finish up the scale. 

Thumb (1) = G

Index Finger (2) = F

Middle Finger (3) = E

Ring Finger (4) = D

Little Finger (5) = C

Overall, here are the C-Major Scale fingerings for each hand:

Right hand


1-2- 3-1- 2-3-4-5


Left hand


5-4- 3- 2-1- 3-2-1


[insert image: labeled notes on keyboard graphic – preferably with hands/numbers]


Practice Playing the C-Major Scale

Whether you are taking keyboarding lessons online or in-person, you will need to practice the C-Major scale until it comes automatically. Start practicing with your metronome at a slower tempo and practice the scale until it is consistently smooth at that tempo. You want to master each tempo by playing the scale without any errors or by looking down at the keyboard. Once you’ve mastered your current tempo, speed up the metronome a bit and practice at this newer, faster tempo. Continue to up the tempo as you sail through the C-Major scale with ease.


It’s natural to want to start playing songs as soon as you begin learning to play the keyboard; however, exercises like this are essential for building muscle memory in your fingers and training your ear. You’ll also be able to play notes without looking down at the keyboard. If you master these fundamentals, you’ll be able to play much more complex pieces in the future.


When you’re taking keyboarding lessons online, it’s hard to find an instructor who can help take you to the next level. But it doesn’t have to be. has two virtuosos who can help you develop your technique and inspire you. Consider Cory Henry’s Course specifically designed for Organ & Synth Keyboards. He’ll help you with developing your technique and finger control as well as “playing from the soul.” If jazz piano and improvisation are more what you’re looking for, choose award-winning Colombian jazz pianist Jesus Molina for your new instructor. His 27-lesson course is packed with lessons on different kinds of piano, such as blues and slide while helping you learn how to solo and improvise. 



Alain Merville is founder and CEO of — an online platform offering music students around the world access to the greatest musicians and comprehensive lessons catering to all levels of talent and experience. A professor of music at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Alain brings a wide range of experience in the music field to his work — as an artist, manager and cultivator of young talent. YousicPlay offers a showcase of a wide range of musical genres and artists from many nations, including the U.S.



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