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


The Balkans or Bust

All Around This World Eastern Europe Map featuring the Balkans

This week in our online class we visit the now-independent countries on Southeastern Europe’s Balkan peninsula that used to compose the nation of Yugoslavia. Though many people from the former Yugoslavia share history, culture and language, the region is, and always has been, multi-ethnic — home to a mix of European and Asian cultures and peoples who would spend centuries living intermingled, literally as neighbors, until some kind of shift, externally imposed or of their own doing, would tear them apart. Thankfully in class we do much more singing than historical hand-wringing. Let’s go!

Dancing the Csardas in 1975

We end our week in Hungary with the nation’s iconic national folk dance, the Csárdás. The Csárdás originated with the 18th century verbunkos, dances that were most often done as a form of recruitment for the military. The dance usually starts off slowly –a section called lassú–and ends very quickly with a section known as friss (“fresh”). Both men and women dance this so-called “Tango of the East,” though tradition dictates that only women wear a traditional red skirt that twirls as they dance. In class we try the Csárdás, though there’s no way we can do it as fantastically as the folks in this video. Woo-hoo 1975!

Hope you had a great week. We sure did.

Hungary Loves This Little Rabbit

Yesterday we met the Hungarian folk song, “Little Rabbit.” While most of the songs we sing in music class are “grown-up” songs we’ve adapted for kids of all ages to enjoy, this one is kidsy through and through. Sing with me:

Where are you going, little rabbit? Ingom-bingom talibe , tutalibe malibe. Into the forest.

Why do you go there, little rabbit? Ingom-bingom talibe , tutalibe malibe
To find some sticks.

Why do you find them, little rabbit? Ingom-bingom talibe , tutalibe malibe
to build a garden.

Why do you build that little garden? Ingom-bingom talibe , tutalibe malibe
For my mom.

These Guys Sing the Heck out of a Hungarian Children’s Song

“Little Rabbit” (in Hungarian, ‘Hová mégy te kisnyulacska’”) is a Hungarian children’s song about a little bunny who goes into the forest, collects sticks and builds a garden so he can grow flowers for his mom. Probably not a true story. In the early 1900s Hungarian composer and visionary musicologist Zoltán Kodály scoured the countryside collecting Hungarian folk songs, bringing favorites like “Little Rabbit” into his repertoire. Kodály believed that folk songs, the songs of the people, were the best songs to use to teach young children the basics of music. Today the Kodaly method of teaching music to young children, which is available worldwide, still starts with the songs folks sing and builds from there.

Have a Happy, Ancient, Hungarian Birthday

Hungary’s traditional music is as tricky a mix of East and West, of secular and religious, and of ancient and modern as Hungary is itself. Enjoy this version of the Hungarian folk song, “Sok születésnapokat,” customarily sung as a birthday blessin and performed by Naptengeri on mountain overlook in Balaton, Hungary. Her translation of the lyrics: “May you live a lot of birthdays. May it never be hard to count your days, May the dew of the sky renew your heart, May a sea of blessings fall on your house May every joy be given to you until you die . . . .”

Makam is the Best of Budapest

With such so many centuries of contact with empires both East and West, Hungary is an ideal place to engage in musical “world fusion.”  For example, when the Turks arrived in the 15th century and conquered part of Hungary they brought sounds from the East, as well as Roma people who came with their own unique music. Makám, which you’ll see in this video, is a Hungarian band founded by prolific progressive folk musician Zoltán Krulik. The band plays Central European traditional songs but demonstrates influences from Asia, Africa and the Balkans.

Bravo for Besh O Drom!

We kick off our week in Hungary with one of our favorite Hungarian bands. Besh O Drom is a Budapest-based multifaceted, multi-talented 10 piece “electro-acoustic collective” that draws on traditional music from all over the world — “Transylvanian, Jewish, Afghan, Egyptian, Armenian, Bulgarian, Romanian and Greek,” as they say on their website — to create a rambunctious blend of old and new. The name “Besh O Drom” comes from the Lovari language, meaning, “ride the road.” Or, with a more creative translation, “follow your path, get on with it.”

Merry about Magyars, Happy about Hungary

All Around This World map of Eastern Europe featuring Hungary
This week in our online class we’re going to Hungary, land of the ancient Magyars who settled in the Carpathian Basin way back in 895 A.D., well before the founding of Germany, France or England. Along the way there were Turks, Austrian Hapsburgs, Russians and more, but through the ages the Hungarian nation endured. This may have something to do with the unique Hungarian language, distinct from the Slavic languages of its neighbors. Being the only ones to speak a language may isolate your nation from potential allies, but it can also unify it in the face of enemies. Today we say a hardy jó napot and embark on a week of Hungarian unity.

Ruslana’s Wild Dance

We end our week in Ukraine with some really “wild dancing.” In 2004 Ruslana, a singer from the Hutsul ethno-cultural group, won the continent’s Eurovision Song Contest while representing Ukraine — a really big deal. Her song, “Wild Dances,” was inspired by the Hutsulka and other Hutsul dances, albeit with non-traditional costumes and quite non-traditional moves. That’s okay. We’re proud of Ukraine. If that means dancing wildly, we dance!

Here comes the Hutsulka

In class this week we dance our version of the Hutsulka, a dance of one of Ukraine’s most distinct minorities. The origin of the Hutsul people is not clear; there are Hutsuls, or people related to the Hutsuls, sprinkled among the Carpathian mountains and in parts of Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic. The “Hutsulka” is a lively dance that embodies the vibrant spirit often ascribed to the Hutsul people. Dancers wear traditional red and white costumes and prance, bounce and spin exuberantly around the dance floor.