This is something that has been bothering me for some time.
If you are at an event and it is time for the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” what happens? They bring out some recording artist to sing it “for us” as if it was entertainment. Most people do not sing along. A few might sing it very quietly or maybe just move their lips a bit.
It would be so much more meaningful if everyone sang the national anthem together. Have you ever seen a soccer game from Europe when the whole crowd starts singing in unison? It is a very powerful sound and quite inspirational. I have noticed it at the Olympics as well. People from other countries sing their anthems proudly while when we win the gold we just stand there and listen to our anthem.
I know it is not an easy song to sing. But I am calling upon all Americans to sing the national anthem loud and proud anytime it is sung. It only takes a few brave people to get it started. It will sound great and I think it will feel great too.
My first guitar was given to me by my grandmother, Eva Jane Thompson in 1983. It was a student level Yamaha acoustic guitar and I still have it to this day. I took lessons for a while with a guy who did show me a few cool things (I believe “I Don’t Know” by Ozzy Osbourne was the first song) and I learned to read notes using the Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method just like I use now with many of my students. I remember how hard it was to push down the heavy acoustic strings to play things like power chords and bar chords but my fingers became tough and strong.
I wanted an electric guitar more than anything else in the world. A few years later my wish was granted when my parents thought I had proved that I would stick with it and they bought me a gorgeous white Stratocaster like Jimi Hendrix played (he died the same year I was born). I still play that guitar and use it for teaching. The first band I was in was The Andy Band (named after me) and we played one show, a battle of the bands at Kent Roosevelt High School. My good friend Larry Curtis formed the band. We played 3 or 4 songs but the ones I remember were “Hollywood” (a punk song) and “No One Like You” by the Scorpions. We only knew the chorus on that one (same 3 chords played endlessly while I did a solo/no vocals). On “Hollywood” we had a lead singer who had broken his arm days ago (no medical treatment) skateboarding and he rolled around on the stage as he “sang”. We didn’t win but it sure was fun.
My first memory of being interested in music was at summer camp at Camp Tippecanoe when I was nine years old. There was an old piano in the dining hall and I remember trying to pick out the tune of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” on the keyboard. At first it didn’t sound right so I would just move it up or down a few keys until it did come out right. When I returned home to Canton, Ohio I told my parents I was interested in the piano and began taking lessons with Jack Vogelgesang. He was an excellent instructor and I learned a lot of classical songs from Mr. Vogelgesang in the 4 years I studied with him including pieces by Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, Saint-Saens, and Bartok. I feel that this classical training as well as Mr. Vogelgesang’s insistence that I do weekly theory assignments really gave me a good foundation of understanding music. I still play around on the piano sometimes but when I was 13 I decided it was time to play a different instrument: the guitar. This was of course to “be cool”.