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The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

GUEST BLOG: "Oh Say . . . Can You Sing?" by Tim Sharp

OH SAY . . . CAN YOU SING? by Tim Sharp
       At the American Choral Directors Association’s recent Eastern Division Conference, the Saturday morning concert session was hosted by Old St. Paul’s Church in downtown Baltimore. As I eagerly awaited the concert, I was greeted by the playing of Concert Variations on The Star-Spangled Banner, Dudley Buck’s opus 23 for organ. This purposeful salute to Francis Scott Key was the first such moment in ACDA’s yearlong tribute to the two hundredth anniversary of the writing of what became the national anthem for the United States of America.
       In this bicentennial year of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” ACDA is collaborating with the Star Spangled Music Foundation (SSMF) and the Smithsonian Institution to bring focus to our country’s national anthem and to call attention to singing in community. We are indebted to the scholarship that continues to take place at the University of Michigan (and to ACDA member Jerry Blackstone) through their American Music Institute. ACDA will continue to benefit from their work as they offer a four-week K–12 National Endowment for the Humanities teacher institute June 30–July 25, 2014, titled Banner Moments: The National Anthem in American Life, which will explore the history of US patriotic song in recognition of the bicentennial and as they develop online curricular projects to share with the nation.
       As summer approaches, the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution will celebrate the writing of the song through their office in Washington DC and throughout the national park services and other government entities. The focus of this initiative will take place on Flag Day, June 14, 2014, when Americans around the globe are invited to sing in a worldwide commemoration of the flag and the anthem. “Raise it Up! Anthem for America” will be a call to millions of Americans to participate in simultaneously singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” led by celebrity artists on the National Mall, steps away from the original flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814.
       This exciting activity leads up to ACDA’s own Star-Spangled Music Day on Friday, September 12, 2014. On this day we ask that Americans far and wide, and especially K–12 students throughout the United States, sing patriotic songs and discuss the history and significance of the anthem. Performances may be videotaped and posted to social media outlets using #Anthem200. SSMF and ACDA will provide K–12 instructional materials through our websites.
       Ideas to celebrate September 12, 2014, the National Day of Patriotic Song, include:
• Organize a campus-wide singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and post it to YouTube and our Facebook page. If you send us the video, we can post it for you. Email info@starspangledmusic. org for help.
• Perform choral and marching band charts during your high school football game that evening.
Resources will be available throughout the coming summer.
• Add an historical arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to a concert or recital for a schoolwide assembly.
• Work with local government or other organizations to celebrate the bicentennial of “The Star-
Spangled Banner” in whatever way is best for your local community.
• Play SSMF’s recording of the original version of the national anthem over your school’s PA system to start the day and tell your fellow staff and students about the anthem’s anniversary. Visit SSMF websites for a script you can adapt for the announcement.
       Please save the date to join ACDA and the Star Spangled Music Foundation and other collaborators in celebrating the bicentennial by singing and bringing focus to “The Star-Spangled Banner” on September 12, 2014.
on March 5, 2014 6:09am
I would go one step further.  As someone who presents an historic figure connected with the War of 1812 (Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury at the beginning of the War, and one whose diplomacy in conjunction with four other patriots in Ghent brought about an end to the War) my studies of the era have led me to understand that this War, so little understood and whose importance is unappreciated (especially since its celebration is at the same time as that of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War), has provided us with the single most important piece of text to fully encompass what happened at Baltimore and Fort McHenry.  Not only should the first stanza be sung, but all FOUR of them be sung - because without those next three, the whole drama of Fort McHenry is, at best, only partially understood.  So let me urge anyone doing what Tim has suggested to do so completely.  Think of it, church musicians, as having a hymn with four verses, but you stop after the second - or, if you wish, a storyteller who starts a story but stops after introducing the characters and doesn't develop "the rest of the story."  This is education in its fullest sense:  not only is there a musical component, but there is a historical element as well, and this is what musicians are, really:  educators.
Chantez bien!
on March 20, 2014 12:53pm
For a complete version of the lyrics that Ronald has mentioned, you can visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History's page devoted to the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner. There is even a recording there of what a 19th century audience would have heard - performed on original instruments from the museum's collection.