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Banner Moments: The National Anthem in American Life

NEH Summer K-12 Teacher Institute
June 30–July 25, 2014


Thanks to a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and with support of the Star Spangled Music Foundation, the University of Michigan's American Music Institute will hold a four-week Summer Institute from June 30th to July 25th, 2014, at the University of Maryland. Thirty school teachers will explore topics in American history and culture through the lens of our national anthem and related American music.

“Banner Moments” will take advantage of the attention to be focused on the bicentennial of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in September of 2014 to examine a range of topics and events that have shaped and signaled American identity. Using the national anthem as a core text, our Summer Institute will explore both the music of the anthem and its role as a “witness” to American history in cultural, social, economic, and political life: building from the joyful expression of a single mind and moment to a text that embodies a multiplicity of American voices. The Institute will demonstrate the value of music as a tool for humanities inquiry, deepening understanding through examination not only of words, but of the full range of expressive elements the medium embodies. Moreover, presentations and discussions will introduce resources and teaching strategies that educators can use to engage their students in learning that is multi-faceted and compelling.

The activities in “Banner Moments” are designed to engage participants as adult learners while also supporting their understanding of how music can function to enliven teaching and engage different learning modalities. Institute presenters will model “best practices” of arts-integration through experiential and project-based learning activities, both in classroom sessions and in visits to historic sites. It will be serious but fun too.

The timing of the Institute takes advantage of multiple national initiatives developed for the anthem’s anniversary, including partnerships that the co-directors have built with the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the Grammy Museum, baritone Thomas Hampson’s Song of America Project, the Library of Congress, and the Star-Spangled Music Foundation. These partnerships will provide participants a series of special experiences and resources, both during and after the Institute, which will amplify its benefits for participants and their students.

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Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities

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Inspired by the bicentennial of the U.S. national anthem, "Banner Moments" will explore a range of song, from the Revolutionary War up to the present, that forged and commented upon American idenitity and issues of community and citizenship.

Banner Moments will be led by co-directors Mark Clague, Ph.D. of the Univesity of Michigan and Susan Key, Ph.D., a former elementary teacher and education consultant for the San Francisco Symphony. Click here for more information about Institute personnel.

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower