Lesson Plans

Marcus Neiman & The Sounds of Sousa Band

 Lesson Description 

Lesson Title


Subject Area or Focus

Introduction to John Philip Sousa



 Lesson Overview:

Discover who John Philip Sousa was, when he lived, and his importance to American music.

Genres of Music Used:

American music, specifically, the march and dance forms (written by Sousa).

Goals and Objectives:

The students will learn:

1)      Who John Philip Sousa was and to place him in historical context with other famous individuals of the day.

2)      About Mr. Sousa's childhood and his entry into the United States Marine Corp. at the age of 13.

3)      What it was like to be a 10 to 13 years old during the post-Civil War period in which Mr. Sousa grew up in Washington, D.C.

4)      Why Mr. Sousa wrote for band and the type of music he wrote.

5)      About Mr. Sousa's impact on the world of entertainment and the what he did for the concert band movement in The United States.

Summary of Lesson:

Students will to samples of music by John Philip Sousa, explore his childhood and entry into the United States Marine Band, and discover this place in the development of the modern concert band. 


Students are evaluated on their participation in class, their aural contributions, and other criteria (as set by classroom teacher) with points awarded for each descriptor completed:

1)      Research of John Philip Sousa as undertaken in the school library, community library, or on-line - 20 points.

2)      Research of “life and times” of what it would have been like to have been a 5th or 6thgrader (10-13 years old) in Washington, D.C. in the 1860s and 1870s - 20 points.

3)      Constructing a list of 20 compositions composed by John Philip Sousa (ten of which must be marches) - 20 points.

4)      Aural contributions in discussion - 10 points.

 Audio Resources:

Band of the Grenadier Guards, Lt. Col. F.J. Harris. Weekend Classics - Sousa Marches. London. 43211-2. 

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Erich Kunzel, conductor.  Peaches and Cream - Dances and Marches by John Philip Sousa.  Vox Cum Laude, MCD 10005. 

Detroit Concert Band, Leonard B. Smith, conductor.  The Complete Marches of John Philip Sousa.  Walking Frog Records, WFR 300. 

Eastman Wind Ensemble, Frederick Fennel, conductor.  John Philip Sousa.  Mercury 416 147-2. 

Guyer, Joyce (soprano); Willson, Michael (baritone); Buck, Dennis (piano). Concert, Theatre & Parlor Songs of John Philip Sousa. Premier Recordings, PRCD 1011. 

Her Majesty's Royal Marines, Lt. Col. G.A.C. Hoskins, conductor. Great American Marches 1 - John Philip Sousa. Angel, CDM 64671. 

New Sousa Band, Keith Brion, conductor.  The Original All-American Sousa!  Delos DE 3102. 

Philharmonia Virtuosi, Richard Knapp, conductor.  Sousa for Orchestra - John Philip Sousa.  Musical Heritage Society, MHS 512417L. 

Sousa Band, John Philip Sousa, conductor.  Under the Double Eagle - The Marches of John Philip Sousa.  Pearl LC 1836. 

United States Marine Band: John Philip Sousa: Sousa Original - Volume I.  Musical Heritage Society, 515392 K. 

United States Marine Band: John Philip Sousa: Sousa Original - Volume II.  Musical Heritage Society, 515391K. 

United States Marine Band: Col. John Bourgeois, director.  Semper Fidelis  (Music of John Philip Sousa) 

University of Michigan Symphony Band, Dr. William D. Revelli, conductor.  The Stars and Stripes Forever (Sousa Marches and Other American Classics).  VCD 72003. 

Wallace Collection, John Wallace, conductor.  Sousa: The Stars and Stripes Forever - Great Marches and Incidental Music. Nimbus Records, NI 5129. 

Text Resources:

Bierley, Paul E.  John Philip Sousa, American Phenomenon.  Columbus, OH: Integrity Press, 1973.  ISBN 0-918048-06-0. * 

_______________.  The Works of John Philip Sousa.  Columbus, OH:  Integrity Press, 1984/  ISBN 0-918048-04-4. * 

Delaplaine, Edward S.  John Philip Sousa and the National Anthem.  Frederick, MD:  Great Southern Press, 1983. 

Hazen, Margaret Hindle and Robert Hazen.  The Music Men.  Washington, D.C.:  Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987.  ISBN 0-87474-546-2 (alk. paper); 0-87474-547-0 (pbk.:  alk. paper). 

Heslip, Norman.  Nostalgic Happenings in the Three Bands of John Philip Sousa.  Columbus, OH:  Integrity Press, 1982.  ISBN 0-018048-09-5. * 

Kirk, Elise K.  Music at the White House.  Urbana, IL; University of Illinois Press, 1986.  ISBN 0-252-01233-X (alk. paper). 

_______________.  Musical Highlights from the White House.  Malabar, FL.; Krieger Publishing Co., 1992. 

Madeja, James.  “The Life and Work of Herbert L. Clarke (1867-1945)”.  Ed.D. diss., UIUC, 1988. 

Perspectives on John Philip Sousa.  Ed. by Jon Newsom.  Washington, D.C.; Library of Congress, 1983. 

Sousa, John Philip.  Marching Along.  Revised Edition by Paul E. Bierley.  Westerville, OH:  Integrity Press, 1995.  ISBN 0-918048-11-7. 

Internet Resources:

Marcus Neiman & The Sounds of Sousa Band: http://www.soundsofsousa.com/

Encyclopedia.com:  http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/12106.html

United States Marine Band: Heritage Studio - http://www.heritagestudio.com/band4.htm

Portuguese Immigrants in the United States:  http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/portam/sousa.html

Sousa Archives for Band Research: http://www.library.uiuc.edu/sousa//

The Most Famous Band in History:  http://www.dws.org/sousa/band.htm

The Original Sousaphone:  http://www.jwpepper.com/history/sousa.html

John Philip Sousa's “El Capitan”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Capitan_(operetta)


Lesson Plan


Students will learn who John Philip Sousa is and explore the world in which he lived.


Should be taken from Study Guide Materials Provided


Prior Knowledge and Experience/Curriculum:

Knowledge:  most students will not have heard of John Philip Sousa, or will have some idea that he “had a marching band,” or “wrote a march.”

Content:  this is primarily a history lesson which should correlate with “Music In Our Schools Month” as well as fine arts.  It should be considered as an introduction to the historic figure of John Philip Sousa.

Please note:  This plan to be accomplished by either classroom teacher or music specialist.  It is recommended that coordination between teachers take place.


1)      Play John Philip Sousa's march “The Stars and Stripes Forever”

2)      Have a short discussion about the meaning of the march.  Allow the students to explore why they think it was written.  As a final to the discussion, explain why Mr. Sousa wrote the march and how it became our “national march.”

3)      Show students pictures of John Philip Sousa.  If you can find pictures of him as a young man, do so.  Also show students pictures of a Sousaphone (or ask the band director in your school to bring one to your classroom).

4)      Discuss material, you deem appropriate, from the study guide to the children, paying particular attention to correlations between music, history, literature, and science (who where the important literary giants of the period, what was happening in the world of science, etc.?)

5)      Prepare students for the video broadcast:  What will be happening, who Marcus Neiman is, possible questions.


Indications of Success:

1)     If you give the students a written assignment, there should e a clean, colorful organized report.  The report should be factual, typed or written legibly, and interesting to read.

2)     Students should ask questions about Mr. Sousa, why he went into the United States Marine Band, about his life, and times.

3)     Questions about Mr. Sousa's marches and his music show that students are interested.

Pre-Experience Questions:

1)      Explain to the class the “mechanics” of video-conferencing and the that there will be more than one class participating and/or viewing the presentation.  Further explain the types of desired student behaviors that students should exhibit if they are one of the participating classes.

2)      Refresh students minds with a Q&A session discussion of who John Philip Sousa was and why he was important.

3)      Play samples of music by John Philip Sousa

Post-Experience Questions:

1)      Allow students to comment on the video experience.

2)      Encourage students to talk about John Philip Sousa, the boy, the man, the composer, and the showman.

3)      Question the students on what was happening in the United States (or world) when Sousa was born, or during his life.

4)      What did the students like best, least about the experience.



Marcus Neiman & The Sounds of Sousa Band

 Program Evaluation - School Residency

I need your help!  Please take a few moments to complete the following evaluation of my visit in your school district.  Your comments will be kept confidential, unless you desire otherwise. 

While “yes,” “no” responses are useful, please do take time to make comments. 

You can return this evaluation via Email or send it to me via regular mail.  Thank you for taking the time to improve my performances. 

Marcus Neiman, artistic director

Marcus Neiman & The Sounds of Sousa Band



Were pre-planning activities (discussions about setting a residency; contracting; selection of music; and providing you with materials) done in a prompt and professional manner? 

(  )  yes

(  )  no 





Were communications prompt and handled in a professional manner?

(  )  yes

(  )  no 





What could have been done to make pre-planning easier and more productive from your standpoint?






Were materials (music, pictures, study guide materials, etc.) useful in your pre-planning for the event?


(  )  yes

(  )  no 





Were there any materials that you particularly liked, or disliked?






Were there any materials that you felt should have been included, or that would have been of help to you?






Residency Activities: 

Were you pleased with how I worked with your students in rehearsal?


(  ) yes

(  ) no 





What could I have done to improve the interaction with the students or the work on the selections for the concert?





Do you feel that the “Sousa stories” were appropriate?


(  ) yes

(  ) no 






From your observations, was I able to relate to and interact with your students?


(  ) yes

(  ) no 





Were you pleased with the outcome (student comments, parent comments, concert)?


(  ) yes

(  ) no 





What unexpected events or happenings occurred during the residency (either positive or negative)?







Looking back over the entire experience, what would you have changed?









Did you, your students, and parents, visit the website (SoundsofSousa.com)?


(  ) yes

(  ) no


Did you find that the listing of your residency and related information helpful in promoting your residency activities?

(  ) yes

(  ) no






What can we do to make the website more informative and useful to you and your students?








While the above comments are kept confidential, I often use statements in promotional material and on the website.  If you are willing, please provide a statement that would include pre-planning, residency activities, how your students, parents, administration, and community viewed the project, and any other comments that might help promote our bringing the life and times of John Philip Sousa to other venues.

 Thank you for taking the time to complete this evaluation!


Marcus Neiman