By Glenn Jenks
Bonnie Banks Productions
Tic Toc Cakewalk / Candy Cane / The Ragtime Bounce / Red Robin Rag / Waitin’ for the School Bus Rag / Honey Sweet Rag / Biscuits and Grits / Harmony Club Rag / Maple Syrup Rag / Calamity Rag / Tangerine Rag / Thunder and Lightning / Red Leaf Rag / Tickled to Pieces / Strawberry Waltz / Easy Street Rag / Pianochrome / Three Over Four Over Easy Rag / Pussy Willow / Nothin’ Doin’ / The Donkey Wobble / A Breeze from Damariscotta / The Gilded Lily / Appendix I: Boom-Chicks! / Appendix II.
During ragtime’s early heyday when it was the toast of the nation, both Scott Joplin and Axel Christensen devised instructional primers for those pianists who wanted to master this new, intoxicating form of syncopated music. When ragtime’s popularity was replaced by jazz, the popularity of those self-instruction publications similarly declined. In the ensuing years it has been assumed that all music teachers would know enough about ragtime’s tricky syncopation so that they could teach any student that wanted to learn.
As one wag has noted, the problem with the word “assume” is that it makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me,” and it must be reported that the above assumption “just ain’t so!” Enter Glenn Jenks, a noted ragtime composer/performer and a music teacher with 20 years of experience. His instructional folio, Play Ragtime!, is a welcome addition and provides exactly what is needed.
While the folio is aimed at the younger student, even the intermediate pianist can pick up some pointers. The selections (all Jenks originals) start very simply by introducing the cakewalk rhythm and gradually progress in complexity as they cover tied syncopation, accidentals and key changes, harmonies, minor tonalities, register shifts, 2/4 versus 4/4 time, syncopation in waltz time, three over four, pedaling and the like. His titles are often take-offs on the titles of famous rags, i.e., The Ragtime Bounce (from The Ragtime Dance), and students are encouraged to locate the famous rags and explore them. Each composition is accompanied by a page of teaching notes which explains in detail the salient points of that tune.
This folio is perfectly suited for the beginning piano student who wants to learn ragtime. For that matter, it is the ideal tool to expose every student to the concepts of ragtime as part of his/her musical development. Adults who have some keyboard knowledge but are having difficulty with the syncopational complexities of ragtime will also find it very valuable. In short, Glenn Jenks has created a wonderful method of learning ragtime and having fun doing it. Now the challenge will be to convince those many clueless piano teachers that they need this book!
Available for $25.00 plus $4.00 shipping from Bonnie Banks Productions,
P.O. Box 811, Camden, ME 04843, telephone (207) 236-2789 or on the web at www.glennjenks.com