“The Entertainer” is the most well-known piece of ragtime music. Written in 1902 by Scott Joplin, it was first recorded by the group the Blue Boys in 1928, performed on mandolin and guitar.
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It returned to prominence after featuring in the 1973 Oscar-winning film The Sting and today is considered one of the most important pieces of piano music for students to learn. The Recording Industry Association of America ranked it No. 10 on the “Songs of the Century” list.
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You can learn how to play The Entertainer on piano and how to read The Entertainer sheet music here on Skoove. You’ll be able explore the ragtime style of The Entertainer and enhance your knowledge and understanding of rhythm, chords, and syncopation. Try out the Skoove video lesson and enjoy instant feedback on your playing.
|Ragtime / early jazz
|Syncopation, piano chords
What are The Entertainer piano chords?
The original sheet music for The Entertainer is subtitled “A Rag Time Two Step”, which was a popular American dance form in the early 20th century. As such, when you’re playing this song it’s really important to maintain a steady pulse. Ragtime is often regarded as the predecessor of jazz music.
There are many ways to approach learning how to play The Entertainer on piano, but a good place to start is with the left-hand notes. Here, the piano chords for The Entertainer are played as arpeggios. The left-hand part plays continuous quarter-notes for much of the song that give the music a sense of drive. These accompanying chords to The Entertainer involve quite a few large leaps, so be sure to practice this part slowly at first.
When you’ve mastered the left-hand part the next step is to add the right hand. The Entertainer melody involves a lot of accidentals (sharps, flats, and naturals) and its rhythm is syncopated, which means that the regular beat is displaced. It’s a really great song to develop your understanding of rhythm in music!
Tips for playing the song
- Practice each hand separately before you try hands together
- For much of the song the left hand maintains a steady pulse of quarter-notes
- The song is in 4/4, which means 4 beats per measure
- Carefully check each note you play – there are a lot of accidentals in this song
- The left hand part has a lot of large leaps between each note
- Practice slowly to begin with
If you follow these tips, you’ll find it super easy to learn how to play The Entertainer step-by-step with Skoove! You can start your one month free trial now!
“Scott Joplin was the first classically-trained black musician to become successful and famous in America. His pieces “The Entertainer”, “Maple Leaf Rag”, and “Solace” became the biggest-selling ragtime songs in history.”