Happy Birthday, Star-Spangled Banner!

Friday of this week, September 14th, is the 198th birthday of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”  After a night of constant bombardment on Fort McHenry at the mouth of the Baltimore Harbor, Francis Scott Key woke to see the American flag still flying in the dawning sunlight.  He was so moved in the moment that he wrote the words to a poem we now know as the “Star-Spangled Banner.”  In 1913, almost 100 years after it was written, it was adopted as our National Anthem by Congress.

As a music teacher, I feel a great responsibility and duty to educate our nation’s youth on the history of our country through our music.  American music tells the story of our country, from its birth and through the years – our turmoil, grief, victories, and liberties.  Each school year I spend a good deal of time talking about, listening to, and singing the National Anthem.  I hope to make some kind of impression on my students so as adults, they are the ones in the stadiums with their hats removed, standing respectfully tall, and proudly singing each and every note and word of National Anthem.
I would like to share some videos and activities and other resources that I use to help teach the “Star-Spangled Banner” and to celebrate its birthday every September 14th.
This first video is created by Rev. Dudley Rutherford of California.  His site, www.flagrespect.com, plays a 9:11 video on the history of the “Star-Spangled Banner” (do you notice the coincidence of the length of the video and a date that passed earlier this week?)  I play this video for my students in the week leading up to September 14 and I think it does an amazing job of giving life to what many feel is a dead song.  It restores passion for a country and a song who’s lost its voice.

This second video is one I created for my school to play on its morning news show each year on September 14.  Its short, sweet, and to the point.  The video also gets kids singing which is a huge deal!  They’re never going to learn it if they don’t get to practice it!!!

Also, here is a links to some fantastic National Anthem activities and resources through the National Anthem Project

Lastly, this is a FANTASTIC activity packet for working with the lyrics of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” which we can all admit are not the easiest of words to learn.  This packet is courtesy of music educator and composer Christy Lovenduski.  Click the picture below or the word link above to get the free packet from Christy.  

How do you celebrate the “Star-Spangled Banner’s” birthday?  What do you think of these videos and activities?  How will you use these in your classes?

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