Below is the lesson for “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin.
One of the most famous piano compositions to come out of the Ragtime era. Ragtime is a musical style that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1919. Its cardinal trait is its syncopated or “ragged” rhythm. This is evident from the start of Theme 1 (measure 5), as it accents a weak beat (& of 1).
This can be tricky because accenting weak beats doesn’t come as natural as accenting strong beats (1, 2, 3, 4). Therefore, I’d recommend tackling the syncopated bars ‘by ear’, but also ‘by counting’ the rhythms.
Playing by ear simply means to memorize the beats. In other words: if you can sing it, you can play it. Whereas counting rhythms requires an understanding of rhythmic notation.
If you really want to gain a thorough understanding of rhythmic notation, there is no better way than by learning to read standard notation.
Bonus Tip: The harmonics in ‘The Intro’ are executed using a right hand plucking technique. If this technique is new to you, then check out our Harmonics Course which is part of our techniques series: Technique Toolbox.
Part 1 – Performance & Free Lesson