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  • Writer's pictureJohn Beggs

Young Musician and "old time" music

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

An article in the local paper!

Rick Patrick

When asked what style of music he

enjoys, John Beggs responds with artists that

you may not expect from a l3-year old.

Instead of Post Malone, Bruno Mars or

maybe Beyonce´, Beggs responds with George

Gershwin, Fats Waller and Benny Goodman.

For the past four years, he has been working

and practicing "old style piano music," which

is a combination of ragtime, early swing and

jazz from the early 1900s. A fan of country

music from a very early age, the Madison

County native began taking mandolin lessons

because he wanted to learn to play the fiddle.

"Every fiddle player I ever met said to learn

to play mandolin first," said Beggs. After a

year of plucking on the mandolin strings,

Beggs' teacher decided to teach him to play

the piano.

Being gifted with an incredible ear,

Beggs found that he could play almost

anything he wanted, simply by ear without

musical notation. A new piano teacher

attempted to teach Beggs to play more by

musical notation, without much success. "I

did not like that," said Beggs. "I tried to show

her how I could play what I heard better than

by playing with music. After about a year, I

quit taking lessons from her because my Father

realized I was spending an hour or two a day

playing piano, but I never practiced my lessons. I

just wanted to play the songs I was hearing."

When Beggs was nine, he was introduced to a

new style of music that caught Beggs' ear. Beggs

heard a performance by the noted ragtime and

“boogie-woogie” piano player, Bob Milne. Soon

after, Beggs’ father, Chip, learned of Milne’s

annual “Ragtime Retreat” in Michigan. Beggs was

able to attend and the result was “love at first note.”

“I had a great time there,” recalls Beggs. “It was

four days of piano playing fun. Bob also gave

me a private lesson.”

Beggs began spending his time perfecting his

"old time piano playing" skills. According to

the OId Time Piano Playing World

Championship and Festival, this style of

music can be described as:

"The style of piano playing found

primarily in public venues of performance

between 1890 and 1939, particularly in bars

and piano competitions, consisting of popular

songs and instrumentals of that era, including

ragtime, traditional jazz, novelty, stride and

boogie, but excluding advanced chord

progressions more commonly found by l940

or later in symphonic, modem jazz and be-hop

music forms."

Last year, Beggs entered the Junior

Division of the Old Time Piano Playing

World Championship during their annual

festival, held in Oxford, Miss. each year.

Beggs placed fifth in the division, which

included young musicians from across the


The current situation has put a damper on

performing live for many musicians, and it

has been no exception for Beggs, Beggs has

made attempts to counter-act this by offering

his music online. He also plans to produce

some educational videos to be posted on his

website. According to Beggs' father, Chip,

Beggs incorporates a bit of musical history

with interesting stories about the artists and

composers of the music he is playing. Beggs will

even offer to provide relaxing music for your

family for dinner or after-dinner enjoyment. He

says he would love the opportunity to perform in a

local restaurant. You can also hear samples of his

music and order CDs and download individual

songs at

Young John Beggs, a l3-year old Madison native

has just released his second CD of “old time" piano music.

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