Tips for Teaching Students the National Anthem

Tips for Teaching Students the National Anthem

STILLFX | iStock | Thinkstock

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.”


  • 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.

Additional Lesson Plans:

Singing the “Star-Spangled Banner”

Oh Say, It’s Our Anthem!

Tonic Chord in “The Star-Spangled Banner

Musical Form of “The Star-Spangled Banner


 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.


Did this blog spur new ideas for your music program? Share them on Amplify! Interested in reprinting this article? Please review the reprint guidelines.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

Kristen Rencher. © National Association for Music Education (