National Anthems around the World

What are other countries’ national anthems like? MENC member Maria Schwab explored this question with her students. In a unit on patriotic music (national, state, city, and school songs), she compared “The Star-Spangled Banner” with the national anthems of other countries.

Schwab found many benefits for her students in making the comparison:

  • They were exposed to anthems from around the world.
  • They learned that some countries had anthems that celebrated a particular battle (like the U.S. anthem) or war, while others praise the beauty of the land.
  • Those with backgrounds from other countries could share anthems from their families’ places of origin.
  • They learned that “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” came from the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen.”

Teaching a diverse group of students, Schwab says, “Anytime a particular student’s anthem was sung, the smiles of recognition were so huge! It helped that many of them had just watched the Olympics and heard different national anthems as medals were won.”

She tailored lessons to fit each grade level. Now her whole school knows “The Star-Spangled Banner” and what it’s about. Everyone also has a deeper understanding of what a national anthem is.

Schwab’s school had a class sing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” during morning announcements—enthusiastically introduced by the assistant principal—on September 12th to commemorate National Anthem Day.


Maria Schwab teaches prekindergarten through 7th-grade music at P.S. 84 in Astoria, New York.

Do you have a lesson using multicultural music you’d like to share?

Linda Brown, October 22, 2008, © National Association for Music Education (