JPSousaI remember as a young violinist in my youth orchestra listening to Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever and thinking how cool it would be to play the piccolo! I always get so jealous when he or she stands up at that precise moment and plays such a fun melody!

So in celebration of Sousa’s birthday on the 10th, here are some fun facts for you to share with your students:

  1. Born November 6, 1854 and died March 6, 1932
  2. It’s never too early to start learning an instrument:
    1. Was trained as a violinist (1) as well as when he was just six, he began studying voice, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone and alto horn. (2)
  3. This cracks me up!
    1. His father enlisted him in the Marines at age 13 as an apprentice after he attempted to run away to join a circus band. (2, 4)
  4. No pressure:
    1. Conducted “The President’s Own” US Marine Band and performed for Presidents Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland and Harrison. (2, 3, 4)
  5. …ok, you know this, but I have to include it!:
    1. Invented the Sousaphone J
  6. Played violin in theatre orchestras, including Offenbach’s orchestra (1, 3)
  7. Imagine a time when ragtime was just coming out…how exciting it must have been!!:
    1. Formed his own band (1) introducing not only his own music, but the “new” ragtime music
  8. Wrote an operetta “El Capitan” (4)
  9. I am always so impressed with men and women who contribute when they have already given so much:
    1. “During World War I, Sousa joins the US Naval Reserve at age 62. He is assigned the rank of lieutenant and paid a salary of $1 per month” (4)
  10. Last piece he conducted before he dies was …you guessed it…”Stars and Stripes Forever”!!! (4)

Sousa said it best: “Jazz will endure just as long people hear it through their feet instead of their brains.” (This makes me smile!)

  1. Norman Lloyd’s The Golden Encyclopedia Of Music