Play Ball!

One of the best things an a cappella group can do is to sing the national anthem at a ball game.  I don’t care what group you are, what country you are singing for, or what kind of game it is at.  You could be a high school group at your cousins jai-lai game in Ecuador singing the Ecuadorian national anthem.  It doesn’t matter.  And here’s why it’s a good thing for your group to do:

  1. National Anthems were made to be sung.  Every national anthem is simple enough to be sung by everyone. That’s part of instilling national pride.  It is hard to sing a national anthem and sound bad at it. Well, certain notable exceptions (Sorry Ms. Barr) aside.
  2. They’re short.  Or at least, the portions you sing at a game are short.  No one sings all the lyrics.  So you can focus on perfecting just a small bit of song. Plus, I’d be willing to bet you already know the words and melody.
  3. The heart of the song is pretty basic. This ties into part one.  But this means that you as a group have the freedom to innovate, to build on that structure and hang your own style off of it.  Start with the core that everyone recognizes, but make it your own.
  4. Sports fans are a great audience. They’re eager, excited, happy, perhaps already a little drunk, and they love their national anthem. It’s a tradition and a hallmark.  They are at the stadium to cheer someone on, and they will cheer you on with just aas much fervor.  Plus, because you’re not competing with another team, everyone is cheering for you, not just half the fans.
  5. You  get to put yourself and your art out in front of a lot of people that, let’s face it, probably aren’t coming to your concerts. This is marketing gold. Untapped markets that are ready to hear your product. And if you are a high school group singing at a high school game, this is -not- a bad way to get noticed by that team member or cheerleader you might have an eye on…
  6. You’re only out there for a minute and a half, singing a song you know well, to an audience that is happy to hear you and isn’t listening with judgmental ears.  It’s a chance to relax, have fun, and learn to let go of performance jitters.  Even I can belt out the melody as a soloist at a ball game, and I’ve got pretty bad stage fright when it comes to solos.

Check out this clip here of Firedrill! (yay!) singing the national anthem at a recent Red Sox (yay!) game at Fenway Park.

Do be careful though, there are some big pitfalls if you’re not careful.  Don’t sing for more than about a minute and a half.  The audience isn’t there to see a concert.  Actually, I know for a fact that they don’t want you to sing longer than that at major venues like Fenway.  Also, don’t get so crazy with your arrangement that you lose the audience. Key to this is keeping the well known melody front and center.  Be as jazzy as you like, but don’t depart too much from that.  Also be careful changing the familiar tempo too much.  Remember, everyone in the stands knows this part of the song really well, and getting too far away from it will make them uncomfortable.