Local

Someone You Should Know: Ragtime Pianist Reggie Robinson

Reggie Robinson

Pianist Reggie Robinson learned to play ragtime mostly by ear, having taken only three piano lessons. (Credit: CBS)

Featured & Trending:

Latest News Headlines:

CHICAGO (CBS) – He plays the piano and composes music, but Reggie Robinson has barely had any formal music training. Yet he has become a master of ragtime.

CBS 2’s Harry Porterfield says he’s Someone You Should Know.

Ragtime music came into being in the late 1800s, characterized by its ragged rhythm. Scott Joplin became the most prominent musician associated with music through his many compositions, one of them “The Entertainer.”

With Reggie Robinson at the piano, ragtime still lives and breathes after more than a century. He first heard the music as a 13-year-old at a school assembly in the Austin neighborhood.

“After the assembly, I went home and I realized that’s what I wanted to play. I wanted to play ragtime piano,” Robinson said.

Robinson wanted a piano, but only got a keyboard at first. Even so, that was enough to get him started on a lifelong career as a ragtime musician.

“I hadn’t had lessons. … I played by ear,” he said. “The only thing I really learned from the little keyboard that I had, which was about two octaves, was that it was a pattern going on.”

Later, he was able to take piano lessons – a total of three.

Over the years, Robinson has learned to write music and has composed dozens of ragtime melodies.

As a pianist, he’s performed throughout the Caribbean and in Italy, along with many appearances in the U.S. He has recorded five albums of his music.

So what made him so interested in ragtime?

“Sometimes I ask myself that. Why did I get interested in ragtime music? You know, what was it about that music?” Robinson said. “It was the right time. I was 13. I could’ve been influenced by many different things. That was the crossroads. I think Scott Joplin’s spirit came along and it saved me.”

Reggie Robinson, ragtime pianist and Someone You Should Know.