Uploaded by Jay Hellums


John Philip Sousa, “The March King”
Time Frame 50-60 minutes
Students discover many important facts about steady beat, strong and weak beats,
various types of bands, and how they relate to everyday life. They learn to
recognize (by listening) the music for our nation’s National March. They make
opinions about the personality and emotions of Sousa’s life and music. Using a
graphic organizer, they identify instruments that are/are not in a marching band.
Historical and Cultural Perspective
Arts Benchmark
Recognize great composers and their most significant musical works.
Recognize and discuss the function of music within historical and
cultural contexts, including celebrations, ceremonies, and special
Foundation Skills Communication, Linking and Generating Knowledge
Student Understandings
Students aurally identify significant marches composed by John Phillip Sousa, and they
identify instruments that are suitable for marching bands. They make connections
between the historical importance and patriotic function of these marches, and the
settings in which they are performed.
Grade-Level Expectations (GLEs)
Grade 4
English Language Arts
37. Demonstrate active listening strategies, including asking questions,
responding to cues, and making eye contact (ELA-4-E5)
Interdisciplinary Connections
Students demonstrate active listening strategies by participating in paired discussions.
duple/triple meter, strong and weak beats, Sousaphone, band, unison, orchestra, steady
beat, patriotic music, patsching (patting on thighs)
Materials and Equipment
rhythm instruments, globe or map, CD player, recording of “Stars and Stripes Forever”
and “The Washington Post,” and posters or pictures of instruments
Prior Knowledge
Students should be familiar with the families of instruments. Students must be able to
demonstrate knowledge of conducting duple and triple meter and maintain a steady beat.
Sample Lesson
Students listen to a recording of “Stars and Stripes Forever” and respond by moving
appropriately to the music, discovering the steady beat (marching in place, nodding head,
patsching). After initial listening of the music, reveal the title of the music. Briefly introduce the
composer by showing a picture of him and stating that he is called the “March King” because he
has written music for many important marches and bands. Ask students to describe how the
music made them feel (what emotions the music evoked). Briefly explain that march music is
“happy,” tonality is in a major key, and it is usually played during a parade (7-8 minutes).
Students pair, sitting “knee to knee - eye to eye” and discuss with their partners the answers to
the following questions (7-10 minutes).
When hearing the title of this music, about what object do you think the composer is
writing? (The United States Flag)
Why do you believe he wanted the U.S. flag to fly forever? (He loved his country. He
wanted his country to remain free.)
Describe how listening to this music made you feel and how you responded with movement.
What genre or style of music is this example? (A march)
Discuss the various types of instruments you heard. (Trumpets, drums, piccolo, tuba)
If you were listening to this music in real life, what is your opinion of the volume
(dynamic level) you would hear? Give evidence of your decision. (Loud (forte) because
of the brass and percussion instruments. March music is usually loud!)
Have you ever heard this music before today? If so, when and where?
Students learn important facts about John Philip Sousa’s life (see resources) and the importance
his music has played in the United States. Also, students learn that he designed a “new” horn for
the marching band called the Sousaphone (draw/show a picture-see link). Using the split-page
notetaking strategy (view literacy strategy descriptions), develop a timeline on the board (see
below) to list facts about Sousa’s life. Use a map or globe to locate Washington, DC. Discuss
why this location is important to American history (5-7 minutes). Use a graphic organizer to
graph the types of instruments that are usually played during a march and those that students
List: BRASS instruments
Ask students why some instruments are not suited for marching. (They are too heavy, need
electricity, too awkward, or are used for symphony orchestra, particularly string instruments)
Discuss the differences between an orchestra, rock band, and marching bands. Play the song
again and let students march around the room in formation (i.e., double or triple lines according
to amount of space in the room). Let them mime (act out) playing the band instruments of their
choice. Because the song is rather lengthy, break up the song by marching, all playing imaginary
piccolos at appropriate section, and by conducting in duple meter during the “C” section of the
music. By marching, students learn that this genre of music has strong and weak beats. This can
be felt in groups of two (duple meter) (10 minutes).
Listen and/or sing other patriotic songs (“America, the Beautiful,” “America,” “God, Bless
America”); predict and then evaluate whether they are music suited for marching. Students
participate in a group marching activity by playing classroom percussion instruments and
marching to “The Washington Post” by John Philip Sousa (5-7 minutes).
In closing, recap information about instruments that are/are not usually played in band music,
duple meter, facts about Sousa and the Sousaphone, and the emotions that are related to
marching music. Have students make an educated opinion of Sousa’s character and personality.
(He was a happy man who composed happy music, and he was patriotic. He loved his country.)
(3-5 minutes)
Sample Assessments
Observe student’s ability to march or play an instrument in unison to the steady beat and
to conduct music in duple meter.
Evaluate student’s responses to questions and paired discussions.
Beethoven, J., Brumfield, S., Campbell, P.S., Connors, D.N., Duke, R.A., et al. (2008). Silver
Burdett making music (teacher’s ed., grade 1). Glenview, IL: Pearson-Scott Foresman.
Bond, J., Boyer, R., Campbelle-Holman, M., Crocker, E., Davidson, M.C., et al. (2008).
Spotlight on music (teacher’s ed., grades 2 & 4). New York: Macmillan/McGraw-Hill.
This site provides a biography of J. P. Sousa.
This site gives information about the sousaphone.
John Philip Sousa
Sousa joins
Naval Reserve
at the age of 62.
away to
join the
13 yrs.old
Enlisted in the
Born in
Studied music at
6 yrs. old
voice, piano,
violin, flute,
cornet, baritone,
and trombone
Discharged from
Marines and began
performing &
Sousa forms his own
Joins the US
Marine Band
as the
Published his
first musical
Got married
Last song to conduct,
“Stars & Stripes Forever”