Better When We're United

by Teresa Jennings

America is at its best when we are united. It even says so in our name: The UNITED States of America. Of course we have different opinions and points of view about any number of things. After all, there are millions and millions of us. But we also have a great deal in common, things that we share, like the freedom to reach for the American dream, whatever that means to each of us. To realize our goals, we must learn to work together and find common ground. Moreover, we need to do so respectfully, no matter our divisions. As the song "Better When We're United" gently reminds us:

Freedom needs our better angels.
If we're divided, we will fall.

Sometimes it isn't easy, but the stakes are high, and America is worth it.

Musically, the song is quite grand. It has a patriotic feeling complete with brass fanfare, rich strings, and layers of corps-style drums carrying it majestically along. While it could be performed as a unison piece, we have included an optional second part. We feel this adds depth and interest, plus it's an engaging challenge for your singers. If you wish to use it but are limited, consider inviting a select group of older students, teachers, friends, or even parents to join in and cover this part. We have isolated the audio for learning it and put it on our web site for free. You can find details for accessing this in our Downloadables Quick Reference Guide.

Obviously, this piece would work well in a patriotic performance, but could also be used as an opener or closer for a spring concert, for example. However you use it, be sure to turn the volume way up on the Performance/Accompaniment recording so that your students can sing out enthusiastically over it. (And so everyone can hear the awesome orchestra.) Bring out the American flags, honor your attending veterans and troops, and/or put on a display of projectable images of this great land we all love. It will definitely inspire a few goosebumps, throat lumps, and maybe even a tear or two.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.