September 14 is National Anthem Day. Here are some tips for celebrating with your students:
Help students understand the meaning of the words.
- Define unknown words like “ramparts” and “perilous.”
- Take students back to the War of 1812 and the battle at Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem (see resources below).
- Use fun activities to help students memorize words. NAfME member Rachel Veenker writes one- or two-word fragments of the song on strips of construction paper, and the class works together to put the pieces in order.
Help students sing the challenging melody.
- The anthem requires moving from head voice to chest voice and good singing posture.
- Singing in low and high registers may be beyond the reach of younger children, but they can still learn the words and work on singing the melody.
- Many teachers find third or fourth graders can begin conquering the skills needed to sing the melody well.
- NAfME member Ann Holland Hughes says her students wanted to learn the song and “were pleased with themselves for doing a good job, knowing that the public views it as a challenging song to sing.”
Please join with other schools across the country at 9 a.m. local time to celebrate our national anthem with your own celebration on September 14th.
- You can listen to the anthem or sing along.
- Sheet music is available in several voice arrangements and versions (including mariachi and steel drum).
- Lesson plans are available for elementary through high school level.
- There’s a list of recommended books, CDs, and Web sites.
- There are suggestions for publicizing your event.
- The Smithsonian Institution offers a variety of resources on its Star-Spangled Banner Web site.
Rachel Veenker teaches at Cedar Island Elementary School in Maple Grove, Minnesota.
Ann Holland Hughes teaches at Brooks Museums Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina.
–Linda C. Brown, originally posted September 2, 2009, © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)
This article was adapted from “O Say, They Can Sing! Teachers Share Their Tips for Teaching the National Anthem” in the October 2004 issue of Teaching Music.