Does September 14th ring any bells for you? Does this date sound like
a very important date to you? September 14th is a great, country
defining date in American history. However, many people are not familiar
with its significance in our past.
The war of 1812 had broken out in the colonies and we were in the
midst of a great battle with England over our declaration to become the
rulers of our own free country. The battle raged on for a couple years,
and on September 13th, two men set out to meet some British Brass to
work out a deal for the mutual release of American and British soldiers.
Negotiations went well, or so it seemed and the release of American
prisoners was apparent. However, the statement was made that after that
night, England would rule over the new colonies and the prisoners would
be released anyway and would serve the British government. In order to
ensure success, the entire British fleet was on the horizon and
approaching Fort McHenry.
In response to this information, one of the negotiators stated that
they couldn’t do that…it was primarily a civilian fort. The answer came
back that all the Americans would have to do was lower the American flag
and swear allegiance to England. As soon as the flag came down and was
no longer visible, the shelling would stop and the assault would be
That night, Francis Scott Key stood on the deck of the ship and watched
the ramparts of the fort being pummeled by rockets and bombs. He had to
answer many constant questions from the men below the decks…”Is it
there?” “Is the Flag still there?” Key would watch as the bombs exploded
in the air and lit up the sky, and he would answer back that yes it was
still there. The same banner that was there when it was turning dark
was still flying during the middle of the night. When morning came and
the guns had ceased, the questions were still coming. “By the light of
the dawn, is our flag still flying over the ramparts?” “Is the American
flag still there?” Key’s answer was yes.
On that day, September 14th, 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote about his
experience through the long night before in the form of a poem. The poem
he wrote was titled “The Defense of Fort McHenry”. Key had intended for
the words to fit the rhythms of a well-known song of the time “To
Anacreon in Heaven”.
Many years later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson made an attempt
to adopt this song as our National Anthem. Then in 1931, with the
signature of President Herbert Hoover, a Congressional resolution was
passed that officially named the “Star Spangled Banner” as the National
Anthem of the United States of America.
his short history lesson through music will be shared with many of
your students in my music class. It is a part of our history that is
relevant even to our students today as they attend sporting and other
events where our National Anthem is played at the onset event. It is my
intention that with this knowledge they will have an understanding of
the words that they hear and sing on such a regular basis and gives the
song more of a personal meaning for them each as well.
This last week we continued to work to introduce and review rhythms and counting for many of the older students. We got to start playing "Rhythm Tic-Tac-Toe" with easy rhythms including quarter notes and quarter rests. We will begin moving to more complex rhythms including eighth notes as well as half notes and whole notes.
With some of the younger grades, we continued working on steady beat while singing songs and playing some rhythm games that encourage steady beat. We also began to play some games that invite the students to sing individually. This includes singing with "Durwood", a stuffed dog puppet I use, and games like the "Button and the Key" game. It is funny to hear how much some of the classes cheer when I tell them we will be doing the button and the key.
This next week should bring more building of the basics we have started and even a lesson on the history of the "Star Spangled Banner".
Well, the first week and a half are just about over.
With several of the younger classes we have done some work with steady beat. We have even played some different games and learned some chants to help enforce steady beat. The third and fourth grade students have started learning about and reviewing (respectively) about counting rhythms. Of course all of the classes have worked on new music from "ABC Rock" to "There's a Hole in the Bucket" to "Dear Ole Daddy's Whiskers".
The fifth grade music classes got started for the first time earlier this week, however, due to the heat schedule, we did not meet for a second time this week. Next week we should get into the swing of things.
Seventh grade choir has sung through many selections from about three different songs. We worked on voice placement to help us sound like a choir of one voice, and it has made a difference in their sound. I am very excited about their sound and how well they have worked in the heat.