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


Ethio-Jazz with Taste of Tabla

Jazz may have formed in the U.S. but musicians worldwide were quick to “get hip.” Genres upon genres of music worldwide have developed in some interplay with jazz. Here we hear Ethiopian vocalist GiGi performing international fusion that finds a good deal of information in both South Asian music and Ethiopian Jazz (“Ethio-Jazz.”)

So What?

In the 1940s a new jazz style called “Bebop” emerged somewhat as a counter-movement to Big Band. Bebop ensembles were small–five or six musicians at most, most often featuring drums, bass, piano, trumpet and sax–and performed complicated arrangements that often featured irregular rhythms. Bepop’s virtuosic musicians communicated with each other and with audiences through fast and frenzied improvisation. In particularly, jazz heavyweights Miles Davis and John Coltrane were fearless musical pioneers.


Big Bands are the Best Bands

Though jazz mainly originated in the early 20th century among African-American musicians, by the early 1920s everyone realized jazz was awesome. Soon “big bands,” composed of ten or more musicians who sat or stood in rows while they were performing, formed to play Jazz songs. (Often the bands were segregated by race, but musicians are musicians are musicians, and were quicker than most to cross boundaries.) Though much more like Western Classical orchestras than free-flowing New Orleans “Dixieland ensembles,” they became popular in dance halls and on the recently accessible-to-the-masses radio, bringing jazz to the the nation. In this video you’ll see the big band of Benny Goodman, the best of the best.

All That Jazz — Jazz is everywhere!

All Around This World US and Canada "Everywhere Map"

This week in class we spend a few days in the U.S. .diving deep into JAZZ. The roots of jazz, like the roots of all forms of modern American music, are global, and there are also many. You have the millennia-old African-American traditions of call and response, of intertwining rhythms, of improvisation in drumming and singing and dance. You have the European Western Classical traditions of melody and harmony, of rich musical theory, of a multi-instrumental approach to arranging and performing music. You also have the Latin tradition of syncopation, taking a straightforward rhythm and twisting it until it feels just right.

Singing Against Apartheid — “We Are the Youth!”

In class this week we sing “Thinantsha,” an anti-Apartheid anthem. I sing the song alone in this video, but the version we recorded for All Around This World: Africa is multi-part Zulu harmony reminiscent of a church choir. I first heard “Thinantsha” — “We are the Youth!” on the Smithsonian Folkways CD “This Land is Mine: South African Freedom Songs”  as a 1965 performance by South African exiles living in Tanzania, marking their defiance of the Afrikaner government and their determination to succeed in their struggle for equality. The anti-Apartheid forces certainly proved their persistence; Apartheid did not end until the early 1990s.

In Class We Sing in Shapes

Yesterday we learned about shape note singing, a form of participatory American church music that empowers the community to sing intricate four-part harmonies by simplifying the musical notation. We figured it was simple enough for us to master with kids in class…and of course we figured wrong — it’s still tricky. But in this lesson — it’s a long one that doesn’t get to the actual singing for a while, so feel free to fast forward — we at least start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

Shape Notes Sound Stunning in Maine

“Shape note” singing is an American cultural creation, a distinctly democratic way to engage an entire community in song. Singers don’t need to know how to read traditional musical notation, but instead identify notes by shapes associated with tones and know what to sing based upon the relationship of the notes to one another, resulting in a glorious — and often quite complicated — four-part harmony. The approach, sometimes called “sacred harp singing” because of the “Sacred Harp” songbooks most singers use, originated in church communities in New England in the 18th and early 19th centuries and spread widely around the United States, particularly to the South. (Spoiler alert: this week we try it in class.)

Making Music in Manila — the Biggest Choir EVER

This week’s theme chases churchy music around the world, celebrating the fact that people everywhere celebrate it in their own way. Here we see a video of lots and lots and LOTS of singers celebrating; this Manila megachurch set the World Record for largest gospel choir.

Sweet South African Harmonies

Many South African church choirs, like the “UniZulu” choir in this video, sing exuberant harmonies. The style of singing blends buoyantly with harmonies that are also at the heart of non-religious South African musical genres, like “Isicathamiya,” which developed in the early 20th century in the gold and diamond mines as a way for miners to communicate with each other through rhythmic stomps, claps and codes.


The Coolest Choirs are in the Cook Islands

We start our lesson this week in the Pacific Islands with a fascinating fusion of international music and indigenous song. ‘Imene tuki is a kind of music that is unique to the Cook Islands in Polynesia, but bears some resemblance to church music throughout the region, which features cascading multi-part harmonies and elements of pre-colonization chants, such as guttural grunts to emphasize particular parts of the songs.