The Rivers Of America

by Karl Hitzemann

This turned out to be a great topic for a song! There are so many subjects that flow out of rivers – rivers in history, geography, economics, and industry. You can even talk about rivers in terms of mathematics. For example, there are over 250,000 rivers in the United States that combine for a total of more than 3,500,000 miles. The Missouri is the longest river in the U.S., but the Mississippi is the biggest in terms of water volume because it is deeper than the Missouri. So much information! This is a song you will definitely want to share with the other teachers in your school for its many cross curricular opportunities.

The song itself is unison (except for a brief divisi at the end of the piece) and fairly easy to learn, and it features a really nice, Americana-sounding accompaniment. There are a total of 12 rivers listed in the lyrics, which covers 10 of some of the longest rivers in the U.S. (Mississippi, Colorado, Yukon, Rio Grande, Ohio, Snake, Red, Missouri, Arkansas, and Columbia) and two thrown in for their notoriety (Hudson and Chicago). You could assign each of these rivers to a small group and have each one give a brief report on their particular river. In a performance setting, a slide show featuring pictures of each of these magnificent waterways would be neat for your audience to watch while your choir sings the song.

Be sure to point out to your students that this tune is in mixed meter. The introduction, interlude, and ending are all in 3/4 time, while the body of the piece is in 4/4 time. Yet another concept that can be taught with this versatile song.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.