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by Abigail Van Buren

Should Singing the National Anthem Be Left to Professionals?

DEAR ABBY: I have attended many events where the national anthem has been sung by an invited guest and many where it has been pre-recorded. When the national anthem is being sung live, is it disrespectful to the performer to sing along? Some people who sing along are off-key or sing so loud they drown out the performance for the unfortunate attendees seated near them. -- AUDREY IN ARIZONA

DEAR AUDREY: Our national anthem is notoriously difficult to sing, as many professionals have discovered to their embarrassment when they tried to perform it publicly. At large events during which the anthem is played, it is not uncommon for many of the audience members to be so filled with patriotic fervor that they join in. If memory serves me, the volume is usually so loud that no one can hear what's coming out of their mouths.

To the best of my knowledge, no rule of etiquette forbids anyone from singing along with Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Garth Brooks or Renee Fleming -- if they have the nerve to try.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics