i am interested in adding some rags to my repetoire.  
is there a gentle introduction to learning these?
which selections are good to start with?
There are 10 comments, leave a comment.
a couple of beautiful, and fairly easy joplin rags:

palm leaf rag
weeping willow

i would also suggest checking out the rags of joseph lamb(these are a little more difficult than the ones above):

cottontail rag
ragtime nightengale
back in the mid-1970's i went through the entire scott joplin book with silent movie pianist hank troy (denver, colorado).  

"maple leaf" is one that certainly ought to be in your repertoire.

one of my favorites is "easy winners", it contains a figure that very probably was "stolen" by zez confrey for the novelty tune "kitten on the keys".

are the above "gentle introductions"? maybe not, but they sure are cool pieces!
if the goal is to just a add a few rags to your repertoire, i would suggest learning some of the more commonly requested (joplin) rags such as:

the entertainer
maple leaf rag
the easy winners
pine apple rag

they all seem to be about the same level of difficulty to me.  the cool thing is, they are very sectional - each section, or theme, can stand on its own - so you can get by with learning only the main recognizable themes to please (bs) the average audience (although i recommend learning the entire pieces)  they also serve nice warm-up exercises
many thanks to all.  i will get started.
i'm currently re-learning the entertainer (after a few years of not playing it).  not too difficult (i am still at a fairly basic level, especially reading from a grand staff).  if you want copies of joplin's music, the are all in the public domain (being older than mickey mouse), and  many are available at www.mutopiaproject.org.
also, i agree with dr. whack, you can pretty much just learn the a and b sections of the entertainer (or even just the a) and most folks will think you've mastered the whole work.
i'd say that definitely goes for maple leaf rag as well. the first two sections are cool, but i never could get my head round the last part. is it just my imagination, or is it a lot harder? or somehow less memorable anyhow?
to properly play the end bits of "maple leaf" you abso0lutley have to listen to the piano roll of it the scott joplin recorded.

those little unwritten lh octave run ups are one of the things that really make the 2nd half happen.
by euday bowman.
black and white rag by george botsford
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