Saturday, April 14, 2012

King of Ragtime

At last! We reached the composer Kennady has been looking forward to all year - Scott Joplin.  I admit I was looking forward to this one too.

I was surprised at how little our library had to offer for supplemental reading on this great American composer.  Honestly, I thought I'd find at least a biography for tween or teenage readers, but NO.  So almost all our information came from A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers.  Joplin taught himself some  of the basics of music as young child, but showed enough talent that a German immigrant musician offered him free lessons in piano, theory, and European music.  Joplin started his musical career with a minstrel troupe, and led a band at the World's Fair in Chicago.

Joplin's style, ragtime, was popular from about 1899 ti 1917, and was a forerunner of jazz music, despite how different those two styles are. Joplin is most famous for the "Maple Leaf Rag" and "The Entertainer."  However, during Joplin's time, most people didn't consider ragtime music an art and didn't take it seriously.  Some even disapproved of it.  This was frustrating to Joplin, who wanted to write classical compositions that would increase respect for African-Americans.  He also wrote marches, waltzes and operas, but many music critics were prejudiced and dismissed his music.

Despite the prejudice he faced, and the fact that he was under-appreciated during his lifetime, Joplin continued to compose and to believe in his own talents and abilities.

I had no trouble getting the kids to listen to CDs of Joplin's ragtime music.  It's a style that always seems cheerful and optimistic!

We did most of this study last week, and didn't start a new composer this week.  We were quite happy to spend a little more time listening to "The Entertainer."

This post is linked at ~a teaching heart~ where we are keeping each other accountable for making time for music in our homeschooling!

a teaching heart 

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