Web Exclusive: Star Spangled Banner singing, not so easy

Web Exclusive: Star Spangled Banner singing, not so easy

(CNN) -    As you catch a ball game or fireworks display this 4th of July weekend you're probably going to hear the Star Spangled Banner, a song that can be inspiring when sung well but when it's sung poorly, ouch!  We've all heard what that high note sounds like when the performer misses it.  One man is on a personal mission to prevent those cringe-worthy moments for singers.  You could call him the virtuoso of the national anthem.

It's a song that can soar or sink.  Enter Michael Dean. He is on a mission to save singers' egos and our ears
"The worst part is those performances are bad for everyone, they're bad for the singer and they are horrendous for the listeners," says Michael Dean, UCLA Music Department Chair.

Call it the "How-Not-To-Butcher-The-National-Anthem" class.  Scores of pop stars, a list so exclusive it's kept secret, have come to him to prep for their National Anthem performances and avoid humiliation by learning not only the technique of the song, but its meaning.  The song has its hazards.  A sprawling vocal range of an octave and a half, setting up this crucial moment that… well, usually crashes and burns and the tricky lyrics, written not in normal speech patterns, but in poetry.

Dean says so many people forget the words because they don't understand them.  "If it's just a lot of nonsense words then the audience is going to perceive it as a lot of nonsense words.  So studying why this piece was originally written is a very important for the singer to do," says Dean.

And sadly, it seems these days, the anticipation of a bad anthem is now the norm.

"A lot of people have told me when they listen to the national anthem and it goes reasonably well, the only feeling that they feel is relief, they don't actually feel moved, or changed, or inspired, just feel relief that it wasn't awful," says Dean.

Cringe worthy moments Dean is working, one note at a time to avoid.


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