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Thursday, February 19, 2015

The "Star Spangled Failure" Story

It was ordinary day.  Found out I missed it again.  Didn't even know about it until it was too late.  There on the front page of the local section of the newspaper in 2"x2" color boxes were the photos of 16 of the 70-plus hopefuls who auditioned for a chance to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a local Lancaster Barnstormers baseball game next summer.  The Barnstormers are Lancaster's entry in the independent Atlantic League and play at Clipper Magazine Stadium which is about two miles to the south of my house.  We hear and see the fireworks most every time they have them at the ballpark in the summer.  But, I was hoping for fireworks of a different kind if I had been able to make the tryouts for the Star Spangled Banner.  What else could be more patriotic than singing our national anthem at a baseball game.  The stadium holds close to 5,000 fans who love to hear the National Anthem.  Singers of all ages gave their renditions.  One 15 year old brought along his electric guitar while a barbershop quartet did their own harmonic presentation.  
Mr. Scharr, my high school music teacher.
There are 70 home games, but some of those spots are taken by school bands, choirs and the like.  As for me, I would give my rendition using the correct notes as the song was written.  While a student in high school, our freshman class was led to the auditorium where we were taught how to sing the national anthem correctly by our music teacher Mr. Sharr.  He was a burly, rough talking guy who had to have things done correctly.  My friend Jerry told me that when he had to take music, Mr. Sharr told him he would pass him if all he did was move his lips.  If he heard him sing and mess up a song, he wouldn't be happy.  
Click to enlarge.  On the bottom line, far left,
are the first two notes where people add an
extra not.  Mr. Scharr would be upset.
I never forget the experience of learning the National Anthem in the auditorium and cringe when people butcher the song or think they are auditioning for a musical when they sing the Star Spangled Banner.  First you must know your voice range and begin in the correct pitch.  And, most important, when you reach the part at the end where you sing ....O say does that star-spang-l'd ban-ner .... when you sing the three notes of star-spang-l'd, all the same note, then hit ban, three notes higher, then hit two notes higher yet for ner, please don't add the extra note which isn't written on the sheet music.  Tough to explain unless you hear it sung correctly as well as incorrectly.  90% of the people who sing it, sing it wrong.  Bugs the crap out of me!!  Mr. Sharr probably turns over in his grave every time it happens.  If I ever get the chance to sing at the stadium, I will make him proud.  Maybe next year.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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