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From the Archives: 'How to Sing the National Anthem,' by Sandi Patty

For his 1995 book, Expert Advice, then–IM senior editor Brian D. Smith interviewed Indiana celebrities, athletes, and dignitaries, and they shared the tricks of their respective trades.
Among other tips, Anderson-based Sandi Patty—who will sing the national anthem before the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday—confided that you should “try to push out of your mind that you wish you were singing God Bless America.”
In “Hint, Hint,” a 1995 excerpt of Smith’s book, IM shared more of Patty’s advice, which appears here:
How to Sing the National Anthem, by Sandi Patty
1. Never try to make sense of the lyric.
2. Memorize it like you would a license plate.
3. Make sure you start on the right note. If you don’t, you’re history.
4. Try to push out of your mind the wish that you were singing God Bless America.
5. If you make a mistake somewhere in the song, compensate by holding out your last three notes in long, dramatic fashion.
6. Save the big meal that you were planning until after the performance.
7. Act like you’re having a good time.
8. Try to ignore the fact that the ballplayers standing in front of you have heard this song 100 times in the last four months. Don’t take it personally when they yawn.
9. Pray.
10. Above all else, be proud. You are a citizen of the greatest country on earth.
For more information about Sandi Patty’s May 26 performance at the Indy 500, visit

Since first joining Indianapolis Monthly in 2000, West has written about a wide range of subjects including crime, history, arts and entertainment, pop culture, politics, and food. His feature stories have twice been noted in the Best American Sports Writing anthology and have received top honors from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. “The Collapse,” West’s account of the 2011 Indiana State Fair tragedy, was a 2013 National City and Regional Magazine Awards finalist in the category of Best Reporting. He lives on the near-east side.