All-American Me And You

by Teresa Jennings

At a time when the unity of the American people seems to be under fire, it's nice to stop and remember that despite our differences, we truly are all Americans. This very energetic and inspirational song helps us not only focus on, but also celebrate our common bonds. Consider using it as a show opener, closer, or both!

This tune was deliberately written in unison so that it could be performed by just about any group of singers, younger or older. The lyrics are easy to remember and the chorus has a distinctly young flavor, complete with suggested movement.

The key to the successful performance of this piece is energy. The tempo helps, as does the driving rock rhythm section behind the full orchestra on the Performance/Accompaniment CD. Make sure you turn up the volume on this one so your kids feel the beat and the excitement.

Have singers vary their style of singing for the different sections of the song for musical impact. For example, in the intro and during the section starting at measure 9, have them enunciate crisply and deliver the lyrics in a bouncy, somewhat punchy manner. This goes along with the bouncing eighth notes in the guitar line, as well as the pizzicato strings. (It also marries nicely to the trumpet/piccolo trumpet line the second time at measure 9.) When they get to measure 17, the style changes to a more legato line. They should sing this section more smoothly. The arco strings at this point help with the transition. The second time during this section, a sweet, soaring guitar solo complements and harmonizes with what the singers are doing. At measure 21, they should begin to build into the chorus, increasing in dynamics and intensity as they go. The singers on our recording demonstrate this very nicely.

Of course, once the chorus begins, it's all about the subject matter - all-American me and you! Be sure your students sing out with great enthusiasm. To help with this, there are several ideas for movement tied to the lyrics. These are indicated right on the music. As always, you are invited to use the actions we have suggested, or alter them anyway you like. You can also invent your own, or leave them out entirely. Just having students hold small flags and wave them for punctuation now and then would be fine, too.

By way of clarification, when "clasp hands" is indicated, it means students should clasp their own hands together, not each others'. Also, for the pointing, performers can use either their right or left hand, or both. Just decide ahead of time so everyone knows what to do. Have them point with their index fingers for "you," and either index fingers or thumbs for "me." "Point out" means they should point straight ahead (toward the audience, if there is one.) For "you and you and you and you and," the idea is that they point out on each "you" to give it a bit of emphasis. They can point generally, like to the back of the audience, or specifically, at certain people. These can be random or planned. The left to right and right to left pointing will hopefully keep them from running into each other as they point.

You will note that the D.S. goes from the end of the second ending back to measure 26. This might seem a little tricky, so be aware. Also - your students may feel like they want to add claps in the second ending, even though they will be singing "Yeah, yeah!" again instead of "Me and you!" If you think this makes it easier for them to remember, then let them clap. It won't hurt a thing.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.