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Popular Piano Lessons: The Entertainer

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Welcome to The Entertainer,
that classic ragtime
piece by Scott Joplin.
What a great classic.
At this point,
I'm going to assume that you're gonna
be able to read notes on a basic level.
All the lessons that have preceded
this piece should help prepare you to
be able to read comfortably.
If you're having any difficulty,
feel free to send me a shout out and
I will help you.
So please, don't feel stranded.
If you really wanna play this,
we'll help you out and
make sure you can play it comfortably.
We're gonna be exploring syncopation,
that fun ragtime rhythm.
That pits a steady left-hand
against a right-hand,
that's gonna be balancing against it.
So we're gonna try to take it apart for
you, so
you understand exactly how that works and
make it comfortable.
Now keep in mind
The Entertainer is a slow rag.
You don't have to play this very quickly,
so take your time.
Relax, sit back and take it a section and
a phrase at a time and
I look forward to helping you learn this.
All right, now we get
into a little bit of pop music.
A little bit of some basic syncopation.
Let's have some fun with this.
Right hand, left hand,
you both start on high Ds and
these are played on octaves, okay?
One, two, three, four.
That's your first syncopation right there.
Just understand that the eighth
notes are played twice to a beat,
so you can also kind of like this.
One and two and three and four.
Understand how that tie makes
you delay the third beat, okay?
One, two,
tie, four, well then you jump
down to the next octave here.
One, two,
tie, make sure you come in right
after that third beat, yeah?
One, two, three, you change the fingering.
Don't forget the A-sharp,
A-flat here, rest.
Okay, good!
So make sure you feel that
little bit of rhythm there.
one, two, three, four, one,
two, three, four.
D again, one, two, three,
four, one, two and
now this is a G major octave,
the low G down here.
The trickiest part about this is not so
much getting to the chord,
but leading it to here.
So you really wanna practice
this transition to here,
understand how to get from here to here.
And again, don't look at so
much at how high this is over here.
Focus on this little G major
chord right in the middle here.
That's your goal for your left hand and
your right hand, okay.
Practice that until you can get
there to here without stopping.
Okay, and then we're gonna take
a look at the basic Rag syncopation.
All right just to bridge everything,
I'd like to start from the chord.
Sounds easy,
it can be a little tricky to play.
So again, the key to syncopation
is understanding that
things could field in
between other things.
What do I mean by that?
Well, in Rag Music,
we have a strong beats.
One, two, three, four,
the regular beats as represented
by your left hand notes.
Two, three, four, one, two, three, four
and the left hand really doesn't change.
The right hand is the one that's
gonna be playing against those beats.
Two, three, four, so it comes,
it stops before it plays in between.
So the best way to really understand
syncopation is really take it slow.
So let's start it again from the chord and
I'm gonna count out the ands.
See if you can, don't play it hands alone.
I want you to try to see if you can play
it hands together as quickly as possible.
Nice and slow.
Ready, and three, and
four, and one, and two,
and three, and four, and
one, and two, and three,
and then you go into this next part
over here, which is a little tricky.
Make sure you get this part down,okay?
Once you get that comfortable,
now we will take the right hand alone for
this next little section here.
This octave passage is a little tricky
because you're opening your hand to
play this third in the middle.
Even I can kind of get a little tongue
tied with this.
a couple things to think about when
you're playing this little passage.
First of all, realize that we're
basically playing octaves.
In both the top and
bottom notes are the same,
just an octave apart.
So if you're adding the third,
you wanna try to see if you can
lock your hand in that shape.
You should be able to
basically just pick it up and
move it across, up and
down to find those notes.
All right?
Worst case scenario, if your hand is not
flexible enough to play all of this,
you have two options.
Just play octaves.
Or, play the top and the middle note,
and again, you can lock your hand.
Pretty interesting, yeah?
So this is a good solution for
smaller hands.
My hands are pretty small so
this is not easy for me.
I have to really stretch for this.
So if your hand's about my size,
but not as flexible,
try one of those other options.
Sounds just fine too.
And again, let's work on
the syncopation just a little bit.
Three and four, and one,
and two, and three,
and four, and one, and two, and three,
and four, and one, and two, and three,
and four, and one, and two, and three,
and four, and one, and two, and three.
Get that basic rhythm down and
you'll really have pretty much
most of the piece learned.
Okay, let's go on and
just study very quickly
how the notes change and
give you some fingering ideas.
By the way,
let's go back really quickly, and
we wanna add a little
bit of pedal to this.
Now that you're working with pedal,
let's add some pedals to make
the octave less uncomfortable, okay?
This part, you don't have to use any
pedal when the theme is playing.
Here, pedal,
pedal, pedal.
That'll make it a lot easier to play.
Then take the pedal off.
This is the same as the beginning, okay.
Now we're gonna do two turnarounds.
Here, left hand,
you're going to use your fourth finger
over your fifth to do that
little bit of a crab walk.
E fourth finger over.
See that?
Kind of a funny way to get from
one position to the other.
So try that fingering.
Now, the right hand in measure ten.
The end of measure ten will be doing
its own kind of turn, over or under.
Put your thumb under here to go to the A.
That'll push us up to a new position.
Tie and then you're gonna open your hand
a little bit, so
that you can move up to that chord.
Moving through and
it's like the beginning here.
I find one of the helpful things in
syncopation, too, is to identify sometimes
where your hands are absolutely together.
For example, not together, not together.
So those third and fourth beats have
things that are exactly together.
In between together.
And you have your pedal back again.
Here it gets a little
bit easier after that.
So just use octaves.
Again, let's work on this a little bit so
you can feel the rhythm,
the ties, that go in-between the beats.
One, two, and three, and four, and one,
and two, and three, and four, and one,
and two, three, and four,
and one, and two, and three.
Then you move onto this next section.
So we're going to take a look at
this next section in just a bit.
Again, this is tricky, because you're
going to need to use
a very strong five and
four to be able to play the thirds.
[SOUND] In fact this is a good
exercise as try it like this to
strengthen your five and four.
Try the thirds by themselves
with just the five and four.
If you practice it and you're like,
I just can't get this, there's nothing
wrong with just playing
the octave if you can reach that.
So that's another option for you.
So let's take a look now at
the rhythm of the syncopation.
Again, the ties just give
us a little extra bounce.
Just make sure when you're playing
this and you get your notes learned,
don't let the right-hand stop
your left-hand at any point.
So let's take a look at the rhythm again.
Three and four and one,and two and
three and four and two and three.
Now you're gonna move your fifth
finger to a new position here.
Five, four, two.
Put your thumb under here.
Minor here.
Two and three and four and one and two and
three and four and one and two and three.
Move your hand into the new
position with this two.
And now you're gonna use a five,
three, one.
Now here, be careful.
One and two and three and four and.
Be careful with that syncopated rhythm.
Well, let me do it one
more time from measure 26.
One and two and three and four and
one and two and three and four and.
So first,
make sure you really understand the notes.
And then your left-hand will help
you understand where to find
the right-hand notes.
Always understand that it's always
gonna be an even beat even
in between the notes.
Just sometimes your together,
sometimes your not.
Just understand which one is coming first,
which one is coming second.
With slow practice, you'll be just fine.
All right.
Getting to the ending.
Let's take a look at the rhythm over here,
measure 33.
And one and two and three and
four and one and two and three and
four and one and two and three and
four and, and two and three.
See how sometimes the hands will split
apart like that and then come together?
That's part of the elements
of great syncopation.
So one more time, let's take it
from 32 to the end nice and slow.
Try to play it with me.
One and two and three and four and
one and two and three and four and
one and two and three and four and
one and two and three and four and.
Okay So take this piece apart a phrase
at a time and I'd like to hear your
progress on it and see if I can help you
with any of your notes or rhythms, or
any of the larger technical things like
the octaves and the octaves with thirds,
as well.
When studying the entertainer,
try to take note of the sections
that I've outlined for you, so
you'll have an idea of where you can
start to practice one section and
what to aim for, so
that way you're not just going from
the beginning to the end and
getting lost in the middle.
I really want you to understand each
phrase section well before working on
the next one.
Particularly, since you'll be
picking out the notes on your own.
Again, if you need help I'm here for
you so
you're not just watching
videos that are static.
This is what's so
great about artist's work.
We have video exchange.
Send me your questions and
I'll be able to help you out if you need
extra help figuring out notes or rhythm.