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O Say Can You Sing


A Guest Post by Linda Septien of Septien Entertainment

The National Anthem has a range as wide as the nation it represents, and a vocabulary as old as baseball itself. There are four things to consider when attempting performance of this national treasure:

1. Vocal range-picking a key and sticking to it!
2. Practicing-pumping yourself up for the mother off all anthems!
3. Making it your own-adding the personal touch, BUT knowing your venues may or may not want your to “scat” it up!
4. Bringing a pitch pipe to ensure you start on the right note!

Technical La di dah

From the low note (3rd note of the song “Oh-o SAY” and again later on “stripes”) to the highest (“glare” in the middle section and the infamous “free” at the end), a singer must be able to find a key where both notes are attainable.

When choosing a key, the artist must realize that the low note in the song is DO in the major scale (DO is the same as the “key” you are in. I.E. the note, “C”, is DO in C Major), and the highest and starting note is SOL, or the 5th scale degree. For example, if you are singing the song in C major your starting pitch is NOT C. It is G, the fifth. Fans are not looking for someone to knock Whitney Houston’s version off its throne, they want to hear the song sung properly. Don’t force. Do what you can for your talent level.

A good key for female is the key of F or F#. You may have some trouble with low notes but don’t fret…that is better than having trouble with high notes.

Male is best sung in C – E.

Flipping to the high DO is an option as well on “free”, but use your best judgment. Belting it out can be cool, or flipping it up into a “Sarah Mclaughlinesque” airy sound can be nice too. Either way, go for aesthetics rather than showing the audience how high you can possibly sing. Leave the athletic competition to the guys with the hats over their hearts. Don’t make them put the hats over their ears by going for something that is not there. Use the voice you are given, and everything should be fine.

This is a hard song. Period. When rehearsing it, make it harder for yourself than it actually is. This is the philosophy with ankle weights for runners. Once they practice with them, then remove them, the runners feel like they can fly. Same thing here. I suggest singing the entire song on an intense buzzing “Z” sound to get the breath going, or rolling the tongue through the entire melody. Pitch is very important here. Start by singing it soft. Play your starting pitch, and then check yourself periodically throughout the song until you can do the whole thing without any aid, and still stay on pitch.

After accomplishing pitch, start adding appropriate power. It can also be valuable to try performing the song (at home) in a favorite Yoga hold like the plank position where a push-up position is held while resting the upper body on the elbows and clasping the hands together. I would also add singing just on vowels while practicing in the position to get a little more strength and to keep the jaw loose (this is important-especially up high).

This song has been sung so often at so many places, it is difficult to personalize. One thing you want to do is watch out for overdoing it. Keep it fairly simple and choose a couple of places to change the melody. Remember, you are essentially a glorified chorus-leader in this role.

For most major pro teams, they need the anthem sung in 1 minute and 20 seconds. That is about a 92 BPM. Practice this speed.

All major pro teams in every sport have auditions. You can usually find this on their website. Do not limit yourself to these options, however. Check out minor league teams, college teams, high school functions, rallies, civic meetings (call the chamber of commerce for ideas), Fourth of July celebrations, races and patriotic church functions. Audition as much as possible. Be on time and focus on who you are as an artist and what you are singing about. Have a professional demeanor, pleasant posture and be expressive. Look as proud as you sound! Do not be intimidated by what you hear at an audition. You must do what you do, and let others take care of themselves. (Remember to bring the pitch pipe!)

As you go out there to sing, think about the how cool it is that we can sing these words, and how great it is that we can freely use the gifts we are given. Just remember to breathe first!

What do Demi Lovato, Forever The Sickest Kids, BeyonceJessica Simpson,Selena Gomez,Cody Lindley and Nick Lachey have in common?  All of these performers, along with stars from Glee, Disney and well-known movies and tv shows, have studied with Linda Septien at Septien Entertainment’s School of Contemporary Music.  For 25 years they've helped countless artists define their style and perfect their craft.  


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