John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C., the third of ten children of João António de Sousa (John Anthony Sousa) (22 September 1824 – 27 April 1892), who was born in Spain, though of Portuguese ancestry, and his wife Maria Elisabeth Trinkaus (20 May 1826 – 25 August 1908) from Fränkisch-Crumbach
, who was of German ancestry.
He began his music education under the tuition of John Esputa Sr., who taught him solfeggio
This was short-lived, however, because of the teacher's frequent bad temper.
His real music education began in 1861 or 1862 as a pupil of John Esputa Jr., the son of his previous teacher under whom Sousa studied violin, piano, flute, several brass instruments, and singing.
Esputa shared his father's bad temper, and the relationship between teacher and pupil was often strained, but Sousa progressed very rapidly and was also found to have perfect pitch
He wrote his first composition "An Album Leaf" during this period, but Esputa dismissed it as "bread and cheese" and the composition was subsequently lost.