Browsing Tag

General Music


The Story of John Philip Sousa

November 2, 2010
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. in 1854, on G Street near the Marine Barracks.   His father, Antonio, played trombone in the U.S. Marine Band, and John Philip grew up surrounded by military music.   By all accounts, Sousa was an adventure-loving boy, and at the age of 13 he tried to run away to join a circus band.  His father enlisted him in the Marine Band as a band apprentice, while he concurrently continued his private musical studies.  After serving seven years with the Marine Band, he was discharged from the Marine Corps.

He continued to perform as a violinist and as conductor in various theater orchestras in the Washington and Philadelphia area.  By 1880 he had become well known as an excellent conductor, composer, and arranger.  During this year, he was appointed the leader of the “President’s Own,”  the U.S. Marine Band.  He served in this position for 12 years, during which time this band became one of the finest military bands in the world.  Sousa resigned from the Marine Corps in 1892 to form his own civilian band.  Throughout the world audiences came to see “The March King” during his American and worldwide tours.

Sousa was known to say, “When you hear Sousa retiring, you will hear of Sousa dead.”  On March 6, 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania, Sousa passed away suddenly following a rehearsal of the Ringgold Band.  The last piece Sousa conducted at this rehearsal was his most famous march, The Stars and Stripes Forever.  By an act of Congress in 1987, The Stars and Stripes Forever was designated as the National March of the United States.

Click here to see a list of Sousa music and books.



Enter Our Facebook Drawing!

October 15, 2010

 Psst… spread the word!   Enter your group for our Facebook sweepstakes called “Put Your Group on Canvas.”  A few J.W. Pepper employees put their creative resources together to offer you a chance to display your music ensemble’s photograph on a top-quality, large canvas!    The winning organization’s  photograph will be professionally printed on a 30″ x 40″ canvas, and mounted on a sturdy wood frame. 

If you’ve visited one of our stores, you’ve seen this type of canvas print decorating our walls.  Just imagine how excited your music students are going to be when they see an impressive portrait with their musical talents on display for all to enjoy.

Click here  to enter and to view contest details. 

Select the sweepstakes tab to enter the “Put Your Group on Canvas” drawing, which runs through  October 31, 2010.  Five winners will be randomly selected.    The prizes are valued at $100, and will be shipped free of charge to each of the five winners.

This is a golden opportunity to let your music ensemble’s talents shine!  Good luck!


Music assessment tools you can begin using today

April 7, 2010


Sharon Burch

Sharon Burch

“Incorporating rating assessment into our teaching routine is a constant challenge, but the benefits make it worth the effort.”  

This sentiment expressed by Sharon Burch, classroom music teacher and author of the Freddie the Frog series, highlights the need to provide specific skill feedback to young learners and their parents.   Ms. Burch details here how she manages to find time to assess students during a typically hectic elementary general music program:

“As music teachers with limited class time, we tend to do most activities in large groups with little one-on-one interaction.  My job entails traveling between five K-3 buildings and teaching 420 students twice a week for 25-minute periods.  Informal assessments of the general group are fairly easy, but I like to assess the individual in a one-on-one situation.

“Using a video for the class, I individually assess students in October and April to check understanding of music concepts and learning growth.  I record the assessment on an assessment spreadsheet for my records and on an assessment report sheet for each student.  I then hold the assessment sheets until grade card time.  The assessment sheets are printed on blue paper and designed to fit inside the report card.  Classroom teachers insert the music assessment sheets inside the envelope and send them home.  The feedback is tremendous!  I quickly realized it was my greatest form of advocacy.”

Ms. Burch feels sharing the assessment with parents underscores the importance of music in the curriculum.  Follow the links below to access free music assessment tools that she has developed, as well as to discover additional published assessment tools.    

Whether you use a free assessment tool, develop your own assessment, or use one of the published versions, your ability to assess understanding by each learner in your classroom will make a difference.  You may decide to reteach concepts, move at a quicker pace, or simply confirm your pacing is right on target for your classes.  And, sharing information with parents will surely enhance the visibility of the good work you are doing in the classroom.

View:  free assessment downloads   

View:  published assessment tools