Christmas & New Year series: the funniest part of learning music and playing musical instruments (part 2)


Welcome to Christmas & New Year Series part 2, if you have not check out part 1, CLICK HERE

Christmas 3

Today we will unlock a secret that can make your Christmas song to sound good. Are you exciting to know about this simple but powerful secret? Let get start!

This lesson will be primarily focused on piano playing; however, bear in mind that the concepts and theories can be applied in all musical instrument and simply the understanding of the concepts can benefit your playing in the long run.

Three Elements of All Music 

Basically, music can be decomposed to three elements.

  1. Melody 

  2. Harmony (Chord and comping)

  3. Rhythm (beats)

In piano playing, melody = right hand part and harmony (comping) generally = left hand part

Grand Piano

Some advanced players may tell you that right hand can be used to comping as well, such as two-handed chord and building chord below the melody. Yes, it is true. As you are being better and better in music, you will find that the rules can be broken and there is no absolute rule as long as your playing sounds good and sounds musical.

But for simple arrangement, let assume right hand is mainly playing the melody and left hand is mainly for coming.

A simple but powerful secret

It is harmony (comping) / the left hand part. In order for your Christmas song to sound good or more sophisticated, the secret is to add some cool left hand comping patterns  into your playing. 

Today we will cover two cool left hand patterns on piano which you can apply to many different Christmas song like We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Jingle Bell, Silent Night etc… As long as the song is a ballad or similar to a ballad (slow tempo) style, you can use the following patterns.

Pattern 1:


In the C Major Chord, 1-5-1 is C-G-C.

C Major Chord  come from the C Major Scale which is CDEFGABC

We take the first, fifth and eighth (same as first) notes of the scale is 1-5-1 = C-G-C in this case.

Another example is G Major Chord.

The answer is G-D-G. (G major scale: GABCDEF#G)

The rhythm of this pattern is play the first two notes in 8th note and the remaining one in quarter note. If there is only one chord per measure, you can use the pedal to hold the quarter note in the hold measure.  Remember in ballad, pedal is very important. Simply hold the pedal for each chord and your playing will automatically sound much more professional 🙂

Pattern 2: 

It is a very similar to the pattern 1. In fact, the rhythm is exactly the same.

“The rhythm of this pattern is play the first two notes in 8th note and the remaining one in quarter note. If there is only one chord per measure, you can use the pedal to hold the quarter note in the hold measure.”

This pattern is just changed 1-5-1 to 1-5-3

It’s particular suitable for players who have a big hands!

1-5-3 in C Major Chord = C-G-E

Be careful the situation of a minor chord: in minor chord, instead of a 3, it will be a flat 3.

1-5-3 in C Minor Chord = C-G-E flat

A couple of more examples:

1-5-3 in D minor Chord = D-A-F

1-5-3 in A Minor Chord = A-E-C

1-5-3 in D Major Chord = D-A-F sharp

I think you get the idea. Remember the old saying “Practice makes perfect”

Take some time to get the pattern down; you get stick to one pattern instead of doing two.

After you have master the pattern, add the melody of your song and add the pedal. You will probably find that you can play some beautiful Christmas music within a day 🙂 WOW isn’t it so cool!~

Until next time, take care and have fun in Christmas.

If you have any question, please leave a comment below. Feel free to look around the previous music learning tips.

You music coach – Ray learn to play piano online


No matter what your purpose of music learning is, whether you are looking for how to learn to play piano online, how to play piano by ear, the best way to learn piano, the best way to learn guitar or the best ear training course, you should read these three must-read articles first.

  1. What is Musicianship and why it is the key of every successful musicians
  2. A successful mindset – and why is it so important
  3. Three rules of “the Elite Music Learner Team”

Simply Click the word above and you can read all of them and start improving right now.

Ray - the music coach


  1. Ray
    I like your simplified approach to music (three elements).
    Although Christmas was over, I will use your approach to try some Christmas songs!

    • Thank you for your comment Anthony.
      hope you can find something helpful here.

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