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.

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The Baltics are THE BEST

All Around This World map of Eastern Europe featuring the Baltics

This week in our online classes we venture to the Baltic Sea, where we embrace the Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Throughout the week we’ll group the three nations together for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways, but we’ll still recognize that each makes its own own historical, linguistic and musical way. We’ll also do a lot of public choral singing and overcome an empire by holding hands.

Iva Nova takes us to the Future

Yesterday we heard a Russian folk song performed consciously to conjure the glory days of Russia past. Today, Russia’s future! This future is not one of super-electronic mega-music full of all the modern bells and whistles, which Russia has a lot of to be sure. It’s a future where musical ensembles like “the coolest female Russian Band,” Iva Nova, embrace the best parts of the nation’s Slavic culture while still being empowering, forward-thinking and, in the best sense of the word, fierce. Let’s go forth from Russia this week with Iva Nova and with HOPE!

A Russian Folk Song on a Sunny Day (with the Red Army)

Whether or not we agree with the editorializing of the enthusiastic fan who posted this video on YouTube — “Russian Folk Music That Will make You Thrill!” it does seem to be a hit with the audience. Yes, we notice all the singers are young woman and yes, all the musicians are men, and yes, this is a performance by the ensemble formerly known as the Red Army Choir, one of the most patriotic state-supported cultural institutions of the Soviet era, and the performers are wearing army uniforms and clearly cloying for nostalgia, and yes, yes, and yes…that gives us a lot to unpack. Yes. But can’t we just enjoy a nice song?

Darida, da da Darida, da da Darida, da da Darida!

Our version of the Ingush/Chechen folk song “Darida” gives us a chance to a song using all the kids names, pretend to “run” by patting our knees, and of course learn all the intricacies of the intertwined histories of Chechyna, North Ossetia and Ingushetia.

I’m Going to Catch You Darida

“Darida” is a traditional Ingush love song that, in its original form, is a conversation between a man and a woman he loves (and is “chasing.”) “Darida” means “la la la” in Chechen. In class we sing it with just as much bravado, albeit not with our est friends on a concrete platform in the middle of the mountains.

Our Kalinka is Kickin’

Yesterday met “Kalinka,” the iconic Russian folk song that is usually accompanied by an acrobatic squat and bouncing “Preesyadka” dance. The little kiddos reeeeeeally enjoy dancing to Kalinka in class, singing about the pine tree and the snowberry and kicking our legs up in the air. Maybe we’re not technically impressive, but what we lack in all skill we make up in the unnatural ability to look silly without feeling embarrassed.

Kalinka thanks the Red Army

Let’s start our time in Russia with an icon. Kalinka is a mid-19th century Russian song that has had multiple lives: as a pre-Soviet standard, an officially sanctioned autocratic Soviet-era folk anthem, a post-Soviet elctro-pop hit and, not at all least, the soundtrack for “Tetris.” It has also become an internationally popular folk dance that you may recognize from a wedding, bar mitzvah or random late night college party. This version, by the ensemble formerly-known-as the Red Army Choir, is the mother lode.

It’s Not ALL Russia…But it’s a lot Russia.

All Around This World Russia

We’re HERE! Russia. Russia is massive in every respect and has always known it. Russia has never been shy about exerting its influence, never timid about being a dominant power; every country we’re going to explore this session has spent decades, if not centuries, under Russian rule. Sure, Russia is not the world power it was just two decades ago, but a nation so essential to the global power structure, one with a thousand years of hard-fought, heartfelt history…Russia is always going to be huge and its influence, especially in Eastern Europe, is everything.

The Wonderful West Philadelphia Orchestra

Let’s end our week of searching the world for Balkan brass bands right in All Around This World’s Philadelphia back yard. West Philadelphia Orchestra is absolutely one of our favorite bands of all time. They know their stuff, they always please, and you couldn’t find a bunch of nicer music-makers. Enjoy!

Next we start our Eastern European journey in earnest. (Well, in Russia.)

Jaipur Kawa Indian Brass Band

Big brass bands may be all the rage in the Balkans, but you’ll find brassy musical cousins everywhere. Let’s enjoy the brass stylings of India’s Jaipur Kawa Brass Band (while we hope the guy at the top doesn’t lose his balance and make them all tumble down like dominoes). Just look at these guys — are they not great?