Miamiflute's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘history

Dear Christina Aguilera,

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Really. Thank you. So you forgot – or just don’t know – the words. It’s ok — sadly, you a not alone. A 2004  Harris poll found that 2 out of 3 Americans don’t know the words either. That’s right — 61% of your friends will screw up the lyrics, too. More fun facts:

  • Less than 35% can name the author of the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner (Francis Scott Key)
  • 38% of Americans don’t know the official title of the National Anthem (Star Spangled Banner)
  • As few as 15% of American youth can sing the entire anthem from memory.

I have spent years trying to get my future music teachers to realize the importance of educating students on the Star Spangled Banner. At my last position we organized a SSB sing-a-long on campus with the School of Music faculty and the CMENC undergraduates. We passed out our own “Fun Fact Sheets” on the song. We did “man on the street” interviews and asked people about the lyrics to the National Anthem. If it wasn’t so sad, they might actually be funny. And if you are sitting there saying “oh not me, not my students – of course WE know all the important things about the SSB”. Really? Go ask your students what a rampart is….come on, I dare you.

So, if you are inspired – like me – by the performance of Ms. Aguilera to take this opportunity to get America singing — CORRECTLY — again, there here are some great ideas.

  1. Visit the National Anthem Project. You will find lots of tools available for your classes and probably learn a thing or two.
  2. Visit the Smithsonian Star Spangled Banner sight.
  3. Play examples of how the Star Spangled Banner should sound. And yes, it can be sung by a pop star correctly. One of my favorite renditions was the Grateful Dead from 1993 at a Giants game. 
  4. Start a National Anthem Day concert in your school or community. With a little planning, you can coordinate some lovely music making with others in your area.
  5. And finally – we would all be remiss if you didn’t visit the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historical Shrine. Ok, call me biased – I grew up in Baltimore. But we should all take time to support our national parks, they are treasures.

And yes, I’ve seen the flag, the view of the harbor, and even stood on the ramparts.


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