The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Being Who You Are

A lighthearted romp affirming individual differences (with a touch of Shakespeare!)

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

Words: Elizabeth Alexander

A lively affirmation of individual differences, this song includes such unlikely compadres as the Ugly Duckling, Rudolph the Reindeer, Ruby Bridges, Susan B. Anthony, and Shakespeare! The chorus includes also brief cameo appearances by small percussion instruments. The score suggests jingle bells, slide whistle, duck call, ratchet, claves and guiro, but creative performers may substitute other instruments they have around – or wish to create!

Details and Ordering Information

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

When the students and I wrote this song together, we used percussion instruments that happened to be in the school music room, like jingle bells, slide whistles, claves, castanets, and sandblocks. These diverse instruments became our musical representation of our own individuality. When YOU sing this song, feel free to use any instruments you have around — or maybe even build your own!


Being Who You Are

Rudolph the reindeer couldn’t get respect
‘Cause his nose was different from the rest.
The ugly duckling had a scrawny neck
So the others drove him from the nest.
These two, to name a few, did what they had to do.
Like you, this they knew: “To thine own self be true!”
Rudolph was a great phenomenon,
Soon that duckling turned into a swan,
You’ll do fine if you just keep on being who you are.

Susan B. Anthony held aloft her sign
Even though folks said she was a fool.
And even hecklers couldn’t undermine
Ruby Bridges marching into school.
These two, to name a few, did what they had to do.
Like you, this they knew: “To thine own self be true.”
Susan called on women to arise,
Ruby’s courage opened many eyes,
Speak your truth! Don’t apologize for being who you are.

So if you wear glasses on your nose,
If you’re bald or have eleven toes,
Be the best “you” that you can be,
Tell your story with honesty,
And you’ll shine ever brilliantly, being who you are.

Lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander with students at Waunakee Elementary School

© 2019 by Elizabeth Alexander



Premiere: Entire student body of Waunakee Elementary School / Kathy Bartling (Waunakee, WI)
Angelica Cantanti Youth Choir / Ann Schrooten (Bloomington, MN)
Boston Children’s Chorus / Jason Holmes. Wang Theater (Boston, MA)
Children’s Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church / Dema Solberg (Houston, TX)
Children’s Choir of Grace Episcopal Church / Ann Matlack (Madison, NJ)
Heather Hottman. KidsSing Concert, The Rose Theater (Omaha, NE)
Rachel Long (Madison, WI)
Sartell Middle School Choir / Leah Mockenhaupt (Sartell, MN)
The OK Chorale, Unitarian Universalist Church of Midland / Sonja K. Millichamp (Midland, MI)
Treble Choir Repertoire Workshop / Andrew Ellingsen. Conference of the Organization of American Kodály Educators (St. Paul, MN)
Westridge School Elementary Choir / Elizabeth Hangar (Pasadena, CA)
Children’s Choir of Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church / Dave Simmons (Overland Park, KS)
Choir of Prairie Unitarian Universalist Church / Rachel Long (Madison, WI)
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration / Jane K Hulting (Philadelphia, PA)
Youth Choir of Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua / Jed Holland (Nashua, NH)