Advice Blog Repertoire

“O say can you see…”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to sing the American national anthem.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to sing it acapella. 

In my lifetime, I’ve sung this piece of music MANY times – baseball games, my own lacrosse games (after playing), and my high school graduation just to name a few. 

As a voice teacher, who has also taught this song many times — it is not an easy sing even though it is one of the most well-known songs in American culture.  As a soloist, you get your first note (usually from a pitch pipe), sing the anthem vocally throughout your entire range a cappella (with no accompaniment), with an eager audience knowing and hanging onto every single thing that comes out of your mouth.

Tips to singing this song:

  • Pick the key that works best for your voice. This piece is typically sung in F major, but if that is not a comfortable key for you [check the highest note of the piece on the word “free”] – change it! 
  • Pick a brisk tempo. If you are singing it a cappella, keeping a brisk tempo and moving through the song will help with your intonation and breathing.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Work through this music the same way you would be learning a new song. Sing it out of time, plunking through the notes, having the notes, rhythms and breathing become second nature to you.
  • Bonus: Here is Whitney’s iconic performance.