by Julie Parsons, WA-ACDA Youth & Student Activities Chair

Tparsonshis year marks the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s penning of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” On Friday, September 12, 2014, schools across the nation are asked to hold their own events to honor “The Star-Spangled Banner” and to share these efforts online. The Star-Spangled Music Foundation, American Choral Directors Association, Resounding Joy, and others have come together to offer a myriad of curriculum ideas and resources for educators on the SSMF website.

As music educators planning activities for the beginning of the school year, the #Anthem200 project creates a wonderful cross-curriculum opportunity to teach about the song, its lyrics, its history, and its practice.
Did you know:

  • There is no “official” version of the National Anthem. Solo, SSAATTBB, 3/4, 4/4, ornaments or none, the anthem is open to some amount of interpretation. This 1814 arrangement by Thomas Carr includes some ornamentation in the final measures, and repetition of the final line of each stanza.
  • Francis Scott Key wrote four stanzas to be sung to the tune of “The Anacreontic Song,” only the first of which we sing today. Because we do not, for extremely practical reasons, sing all four stanzas at each baseball game and Olympic gold medal ceremony, our anthem consists of a set of two open-ended questions: Do you see the flag? Does it still wave? 
  • “The Star-Spangled Banner” was made our country’s national anthem in 1931. Until then, the United States had no official national song.

At a time when many choirs are learning the anthem to sing at school sporting events and other functions, the resources made available by the Star-Spangled Music Foundation can be extraordinarily helpful. Music educators can work with their principals to create a school-wide event on September 12, this year’s designated “National Day of Patriotic Song.” Create a video of your event, upload it, and tag it with #Anthem200 to join with schools and organizations across the country in celebrating.

If you need curriculum suggestions or help with ideas for events, I am happy to help. Please feel free to email me at julie.parsons@comcast.net. I can’t wait to hear all those high B-flats!


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