Scott Joplin – The King of Ragtime

Who Was Scott Joplin?

Scott Joplin was an African American composer who is famous for the Ragtime style of music. Watch this short video about Joplin or read some of the facts below.

Important Facts: Share this with your children to talk about Scott Joplin’s life, his challenges, and his successes.

  • He came from a poor family and his father had been born a slave.
  • He taught himself piano until a teacher began to give him lessons for free.
  • He is called The King of Ragtime. Ragtime combines classical music with traditional African rhythms. It was the first step towards the creation of American jazz music.
  • He was very famous and successful during his life, with Maple Leaf Rag being his most popular piece.
  • Ragtime music got it’s name because of its “ragged” rhythms. The musical term for these types of rhythms is syncopation, which means rhythms that are played off the beat.

Scott Joplin Coloring Page

Print out and color this picture of Scott Joplin at the piano as you listen to the ragtime playlist below.

Time to Dance

Get on your feet and check out this video to learn some of the popular dances that could have been danced along to some of Scott Joplin’s famous rags! You can then practice these dances while listening to the playlist below, either alone or with a partner.

What Makes Ragtime Sound the Way It Does?

This video is great for older children to hear how all the musical parts come together to make this fun, upbeat music. Listen as the video separates out what each hand is playing and then what happens when you bring those parts back together again.

Ragtime Playlist

Enjoy this playlist featuring some of Scott Joplin’s music as well as other famous rags.

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