Jay Sand teaching an All Around This World class

All Around This World is a unique, interactive global music and world cultures program for children 0-9 years old that encourages children and their families to explore the world by enjoying global music, rhythms and movement. Jay Sand, guitarist and children’s music teacher, world traveler and dad of three girls developed All Around This World with his girls as a way to introduce them to the countries he’s already visited and the many more he plans to visit with them. Through CDs, concerts and workshops, dynamic online classes, engaging homeschool and classroom lessons, “musical maps” and participatory parent-child music-making Jay hopes to make the world a bit smaller one song at a time.

All Around This World is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of All Around This World must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Donate here.

How to sing with Jay each week in your home or classroom Support All Around This World on Patreon Enjoy interactive All Around This World lessons in your home or classroom


Tinariwen’s Driving Desert Blues

We end our week’s tour of Mali with “desert blues” geniuses, Tinariwen. The band’s founding songwriter, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, son of Tuareg rebel, formed the band living with other Malian Tuaregs in refugee camps and in exile in Algeria and Libya. They rose to international prominence in the late ’90s and have brought music from the Sahara, and awareness of Tuareg music and culture, to international audiences ever since.

Next week…Ghana!


Cut Your Calabash in Half and add 21 Strings

The kora, a 21-stringed harp, its body fashioned from a halved calabash covered with cow hide, is one of West Africa’s most glorious traditional instruments. While Malian musicians such as Toumani Diabaté are particularly crazy about the kora, in this video Gambian kora master Sona Jobarteh, descendant of one of West Africa’s most prominent kora-paying families, shows us that non-Malians can wow us too.

Bullish on Bambara

While there are 40 active languages in Mali, and while French is the main colonial language, about 80% of Malians are able to communicate in Bambara.

TED Teaches us About Griots

Yesterday we met Malian griots, the “praise singers” who sang reverential accounts of their nation’s great kings. In this video, kora and djembe player Sibo Bangoura takes us, in a TED talk, deeper into the tradition.

Grateful for Griots

In class this week we experience the tradition of Malian griots, legendary royal musicians who sang the praises of Malian kings. In this video I introduced the concept of griots to kids in my daughter’s elementary school class at the Philadelphia Montessori Charter School and asked them to write their own songs of praise for their friends. As you see they did, delightfully.

We Start our Tour With Touré

Malian blues fuses plaintive narrative with the shuffling rhythm that’s the staple of American bayou blues. Global musicians regard Malian blues legend Ali Farka Touré as one of the most important guitar players of all time, noting his musical residence at the crossroads between traditional African and American musics. His 1994 CD with American guitarist Ry Cooder, “Talking Timbuktu,” demonstrated his blues prowess as well as his ability to blend disparate African cultures into a unified African statement–Touré sings in 11 languages on the album.

Making Music in Mali

All Around This World Africa (Mali)

In this week’s online class for kids we visit Mali, a vast desert land which, a thousand so years ago, was home to a series of empires that controlled the strategically significant trans-Saharan trade route. Today Mali is at more of a metaphorical crossroads — torn between modernization in its cities and Islamic fundamentalism which holds strong sway in the North. In class we put politics aside and focus on Mali’s music, which sounds both ancient and modern, and resolutely regal. Let’s go!

Rachid Taha Takes Us Everywhere

We end our week of North African exploration back in Algeria, where Algerian-born, French-based artist Rachid Taha demonstrates the beauty of borderlessness in his music. Taha blends traditional Algerian forms with modern Rai, infusing that mixture with electrifying Western punk, electronica, rock and more. Taha takes us everywhere at once, and we, at All Around This World, can’t wait to join him.

Join us next when when we make our way to Mali.