Number 17 of 20 for 20 – Anthem Lessons
When recently asked to sing our national anthem to kick off the awards ceremony at a nearby annual NFL Alum Charity Golf Classic, I was immediately aware of the similarity in facing Opening statement or Closing argument preparation and delivery in high stakes courtroom trials.
Adding to the pressure, I had learned two amusing things during the audition: 1) the honor is traditionally awarded to a professional singer or music school student but COVID-19 thwarted plans, and 2) the anthem, while ubiquitous, is not as easy to remember or sing alone as one might think.
Putting my money where my trial consulting mouth is, I practiced a lot for anyone who would listen, (neighbors, family, team or even client video calls) right up until two days prior. That’s when I took a break, and a breath, so that by the day before, I was more concerned with mechanical tips, staying rested, hydrated and calm. And since it only takes a little over a minute, I didn’t feel too imposing of people’s time.
Maybe I was reveling in an opportunity to unify as we approached election day and so felt a purpose that fueled my performance. By the time the organizer handed me the microphone, I was proud of my role in the event. I was going to nail “the rocket’s red glare” at the crescendo too.
In addition to my relief at the sound of applause, I am pleased to report that many of the tips we wrote about here, hold up. For instance, “Breaking the presentation into smaller thematic segments maintains a consistent level or performance and training.” “…full length rehearsals should be used sparingly.” As I rehearsed, I didn’t always sing the whole way through, sometimes I practiced a strong beginning, and other times a strong finish. It was important to be “live” as I trained so an audience was key (even if at times that audience was made up of our pack of canines). Eyes watching and ears listening live creates a pressure that resembles the eventual setting.
“Willingness to ask for, accept and implement feedback is important throughout the process.”
The organizer for whom I auditioned had me back two nights before the event to practice for her family. There were tiny, finishing adjustments to be made that brought the whole thing together in time for the final delivery. That cushion of time built into the rehearsing schedule was key to the right frame of mind at the actual event.