How You Sing the National Anthem
It doesn’t have to be the fourth of July to start brushing up on your national anthem singing skills. In fact singing the national anthem is a great way to test the range of your vocals. However, wonderful as it is, “The Star Spangled Banner” is a challenge to sing, as anyone who has attended a baseball game recently can attest to.
You only have to look on youtube to find examples of thousands of anonymous strangers and well-known celebrities stumbling through the national anthem. There’s even a video on YouTube showing Michael Bolton blanking on the lyrics midway through a performance at a baseball game a few years back; in contrast, Christina Aguilera brazenly continued belting out the anthem after butchering it at the Super Bowl one year:
If a celeb can’t be bothered to learn the lyrics and melody of the national anthem when they’re being paid to perform it, what hope is there for all of us average citizens?
This is why a recent viral video of a woman singing the national anthem at the Lincoln Memorial has been so enthusiastically received:
Star Swain, from Tallahassee, Florida, offered a stunning impromptu performance of the anthem while visiting the monument. As she sang, a group of people gathered around and eventually erupted in applause when she finished; she was even thanked by the armed guards as she left.
National anthem lyrics
If you would like to have a go at the National anthem lyrics (USA) yourself, the words are below.
The Star Spangled Banner
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
How to Sing the National Anthem Well
As you can see, singing the national anthem can be like walking a tight rope across a pit of snapping crocodiles, one wrong move and there goes your dignity… along with everything else. So, I present to you five tips for singing The Star-Spangled Banner. Although following these tips doesn’t guarantee you’ll do the national anthem justice, they go a long way in stopping it being completely botched up.
Tips On How to Sing Better: The National Anthem and Beyond!
Write down the lyric by hand so you actually study the words. When you’ve finished hand-writing the lyrics, read them. Every single word. Put them together in a story – the same story that urged Francis Scott Key to write them to begin with. Study the story and really get to know it. Feel the story behind it and let it paint a picture in your mind. This will help you remember the lyrics when that big moment comes and your standing in the spotlight in front of thousands of roaring fan.
Find a way to practice the song with a pianist who can play it in any key. Keep practicing in the key you feel the most comfortable with and suits your voice, then drop the key several levels down. The simplest way to pick the right key is to take the third note of the song and sing that as the lowest pitch you can possibly sing well. The reason being is that from that note, the song pitch goes up, and up, and up, and up. By starting in this low key, you’ll leave plenty of room for the grand finale.If you are requested to sing a capella, please resist. (If you don’t know what “a capella” take a look here and once again do not attempt!) If you’ve never sung a capella, and are wondering how good you’d be at it, this is not the time to find out. Unless you have successful experience singing the national anthem a capella in front of tens of thousands of Americans, it really can be a recipe for disaster.
Don’t drag it out. The best way to sing the national anthem is to pick up the pace. No one really wants to hear this song as a fine art performance. The Star-Spangled Banner should not be dragged out like a mangy dog being forced into its yearly bath, this is about the nation’s successful struggle to preserve her freedom and resist oppression. Although it is a tribute to those who gave their lives for their county, it should be upbeat, uplifting, and motivational. Sing it at a rapid clip, at least 120 bpm. Listen to this “click track” to get an idea of what 120 bpm is.
Watch your breathing. One of the most annoying things about singers who are not formally trained are their poor breathing habits. When singers breathe in the wrong places, interrupting the flow of phrases, people can tell something is off, but can’t quite figure out what. If you are not sure where to breathe, you should make friends with your friendly neighborhood choral director – the professional one.
Don’t overdo the finish. If you managed the sing the national anthem well, the crowd will be cheering at that point, so much so that they probably won’t care about the last few words. But if you attempt to add trills and twirls that aren’t really needed, you’ll probably hear those enthusiastic cheers fade fast. So never turn a clean and well put together performance into something messy and overly decorated.
Hopefully this has given you some pointers as to how you can sing the national anthem well. Remember that along with all the technical additions, and training, it’s important to also have some fun. The crowd of that sporting event, or wherever you are singing the national anthem, will respond to your upbeat and vibrant energy just as much as they will your singing.