87-Year-Old Sings National Anthem

87-year-old Betty Schirmer fulfilled a goal of hers and sang the national anthem, reported the Washington Times. Schirmer, a native of Kenesaw, Nebraska, said that she was always irritated when celebrities and others flubbed the words while singing the national anthem.

The former school teacher said, “I taught school for 42 years, and my first-graders always knew three verses of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and the Canadian national anthem, too. I think it’s important.”

Schirmer, who now resides at the Kensington assisted living facility in Hastings, had it on her bucket list to someday sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at an athletic event.

On October 23, following the warm-up before the match of the Silver Lake and Heartland Lutheran volleyball teams, the crowd at the Silver Lake removed their hats and rose to their feet in honor of the country. Schirmer grabbed the microphone and sang out. And, she didn’t miss a beat.

According to Omaha.com, the crowd roared as she concluded and took her seat. Schirmer, modest with regards to her performance, said, “I’ve never done this before. I enjoyed it.”

It was the octogenarian’s first time singing at a sporting event, however, she’s no stranger to performing.

Schirmer played the upright bass in a band called “Grandmas on the Go,” and her late husband, Bert, played rhythm guitar.

In recent years, there have been some brutal, botched renditions of the national anthem. Christina Aguilera and Roseanne Barr are probably the most infamous. Though, former Staind’s rocker-turned-country-singer, Aaron Lewis, is giving them a run for their money, according to the Inquisitr. His recent performance, where he sang the verses in the wrong order, comes three years after his public criticism of Christina Aguilera’s national anthem debacle.

To be fair, it is one of the most difficult songs to sing.

Allen Henderson, the executive director of the National Association of Teachers (NATS), told Associations Now about the notorious score. He says that part of the difficulty with the song is its “wide-ranging melody that skips around a lot.”

Adding to the difficulty is the bit at the end, the last stanza, where singers have to hit a particularly high note on “free” in the last line: “O’er the land of the free and home of the brave.”

Henderson points out that in the traditional key that it’s sung, it a difficult place “even for professional singers to make sound good.” People often forget the lyrics, and the “song becomes a landmine of potential blunders.”

NATS member Robert Edwin believes that the reason most people forget the lyrics is because they don’t understand what’s actually going on in the song. He suggests, “In order to diminish the chances of public failure and subsequent embarrassment for your students when they perform our national anthem, a short history lesson should precede any singing.”

For anyone considering performing the song, Henderson advises finding a comfortable key—use a pitch pipe—and establish a good style and tempo for the individual’s voice. He adds, “Don’t exceed your technical capacity with embellishments.”

For those who wish to sing the national anthem at an athletic event, live the dream. Mindfully prepare, and follow 87-year-old Betty Schirmer’s lead.

[Image via washingtontimes.com]

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