- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2006

It is like “American Idol” with a patriotic twist.

A nationwide campaign to remind Americans about the historical relevance and the words of the national anthem will hold singing contests in the region tomorrow and Tuesday.

A poll shows two out of three Americans cannot sing the entire song, said Lisa Stringham, a spokeswoman for the National Association for Music Education’s National Anthem Project.

The poll also determined that one-third of Americans do not know that the official name of the anthem is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” though nearly 70 percent call themselves patriotic.

The contest tomorrow will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Six Flags America in Mitchellville.

The contest Tuesday will be at Jefferson Junior High on Seventh Street Southwest, but will be closed to the public.

The winners will receive $1,000 to donate to a school music program of their choice, Miss Stringham said. They also will be invited to perform at a concert in the District next year, along with the winners from other cities across the nation.

Association members started the project, in part, because they think the decline in music knowledge is the result of budget cuts in school music programs.

Among those who know the words to the anthem, 70 percent said they learned it in school music classes, the survey found.

The association is one of the largest arts-education groups in the world. First lady Laura Bush is an honorary chairwoman.

Also during the contest event tomorrow, children will have an opportunity to try musical instruments, school choirs will perform and the History Channel will offer interactive activities about the historical significance of the national anthem.

“There is definitely something for everyone,” Miss Stringham said. “It is family-friendly.”

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