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


Ghana’s Dancing Pallbearers

I’m not quite sure what I think about this one, but I figured we should end our class week exploring Ghana with the example of a possible end of the road if you live there. If your body expires in Ghana but you want your soul to keep dancing, hire these guys to dance your coffin to the grave. Wouldn’t you want your final day to celebrate life? It’ll be be the best dance party you’ll never attend.

Next week in class we continue to celebrate life — in a much less confusing way — when we visit Nigeria.

Ghana Guinea Mali

On the surface this classic E.T. Mensah highlife tune, which we recorded with love on All Around This World: Africa (West, Central and South), sounds like little more than a happy African song in tune with the optimism of the early 1960s when Pan-Africanist African leaders Kwame Nkruma of Ghana, Guinea’s Sékou Touré and Mali’s Modibo Keita formed the Union of African States. With the hindsight of history we know better…the union fell apart in 1962 when Guinea started to reach out to the United States for support, contrary to the Soviet inclinations of the other two.

THIS is Kpanlogo

Admitting the inadequacy of my Ghanaian Kpanlogo, I’ve been searching the web to find dancers who really know their stuff. This video is one of my favorites. However we do it, dancing the kpanlogo helps us relate to the optimism Ghana and other African nations felt as they shook colonial powers in the 1950s through the 1970s. We can also follow the kpanlogo bell pattern across the Atlantic, creating a rhythmic “paper trail” to connect West Africa with the Americas.

How Not to Dance the Kpanlogo

The Kpanlogo is a recreational dance of the Ga people which they created in the late ’50s/early ’60s in part to celebrate Ghana’s independence from the British. The movements are bold and radiate joy. Enjoy this video to get a sense of the spirit of the kpanlogo, but to really learn the dance, don’t learn it from me. Watch these dancers instead.

So happy about Highlife

This week in class, as we explore Ghana, we must meet highlife, a rollicking dance music arose in the coastal towns of Ghana in the 1920s. As it developed highlife fused international genres like the rumba and big band jazz with rhythms and melodies of many West African countries to create an optimistic sound that really took hold in the hopeful ’50s and ’60s, as African nations were becoming independent. This documentary, which is chock full of fantastic performances, puts the focus on Ghana and Nigeria of the ’70s, when highlife was at West Africa’s social and political core.

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.