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


ALL AROUND THIS WORLD NEWS

Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga

One of All Around This World’s favorite soca songs is “Ragga Ragga,” a mid-’90s Caribbean mega-hit by Barbadian musician Stedson Wilshire, otherwise known as “Red Plastic Bag,” “RPB” or even just “Bag.” In the song RPB declares his general disdain for ragga music, in which deejays speak, sometimes incomprehensibly, over a pounding beat.

Don’t you dare call Barbados “Lesser”

All Around This World -- The Caribbean featuring Barbados

This week in class we voyage to Barbados, a glorious island nation in the “Lesser Antilles.” Barbados had a long history even before the British arrived in 1625 to find it uninhabited. Amerindians had lived there in about 1600 BC, then the Arawak came-and then the Caribs, who ruled the roost for several hundred years until they disappeared, likely as a result of their encounters with Spanish and Portuguese visitors (and/or their germs).  The island soon became a land full of wealthy sugar plantation owners and their African forced laborers. For the next three hundred years only the very wealthiest citizens of Barbados were allowed to vote, ensuring domination by those very wealthy citizens. Only in the 1950s did universal suffrage come to Barbados. In 1966 Barbados became independent. 

We’re going to enjoy our swing-out to Barbados. There aren’t too many better places to be.

 

You don’t want Kassav’ to be your doctor

Martinique’s most internationally famous band, Kassav’ formed in the late ’70s and early ’80s when musicians from Guadeloupe and Martinique got together in Paris to fuse Antillean kadans and biguine with electric guitars and funky horns. The band has since become the world’s premier zouk ensemble and has inspired subsequent generations of Caribbean zouk performers. In this video they triumphantly declare, “Zouk-la-sé-sèl-Médikaman Nou Mi” — “Zouk is our only medicine.”

I’m so glad you were able to spend the last week with me exploring the music and culture of Martinqiue. Tomorrow, Barbados!

Our M’sieu Michel

The original version of “M’sieu Michel,” a Martinican song we sing this season in our online class, tells the true tale (as far as we’re told) of a labor dispute on the island between workers and their French boss. All the workers asked for was two francs in their paycheck rather than one — was that too much to ask, M’sieu Michel?! Apparently it was, because the workers became more and more insistent. When M’sieu Michel didn’t relent, they didn’t just ask for a raise — they demanded it. In real life did the workers receive an increased wage? We don’t know. In our version, OF COURSE.

Malavoi is Sweet as Sugarcane (or a Senegalese Street)

Malavoi is one of our favorite bands from Martinique. The ensemble formed in the early ’70s when four violinists merged with a rhythm section and set out to fuse African, Brazilian and Caribbean influences into a distinctly Martinican sound. The band’s name refers both a kind of sugarcane and a street on the Senegalese island of  Gorée.

Malavoi’s arrival coincided with a moment in which the French West Indies was developing its own post-colonial political and cultural identity; its multi-layered, multifaceted music provided a soundtrack for this evolution. Whatever the moment, we love this performance of “Bona.”

In 1992 Kali was the Face of France

Kali is a Martinican vocalist and banjo player who has explored the roots of French West Indian music, breathing new life into a genre of Martinican music called “biguine” while addressing political and social issues such as racism and economic inequality. In this video he represents all of France as he performs “Montè la Riviè,”  in the 1992 version of the biggest reality singing competition in the world — Eurovision.

A Swaré Bèlè

Yesterday we met bèlè, an invigorating African-inspired dance found in Martinique. If, on your travels to Martinique you are lucky enough to be invited to a “Swaré Bèlè” (a Bèlè party), ACCEPT THAT INVITATION! You will be able to see or join “la ronde Bèlè” (the Bèlè circle) that will have “La vwa” (the singer and the backup singers called “Le répondè”), lé tambouyé (2 drummers), “Le bwatè” (someone setting the rhythm, hitting the back of the drum with two sticks).

The Beauty of Bèlè

In class this week we try dancing to Bèlè, form of West African-inspired music and dancing in Martinique that became an essential part of the working and family life of African slaves on the island. A traditional bèlè song starts with a call and response section led by a vocalist singing in Antillean Creole. After that comes a rhythmic section featuring the Ti-Bwa, two sticks that play on the back of a tambour, a goblet drum with a goatskin head, making music for an exuberant dance. In our classroom, the Twi-Bwa may be two pencils and our tambour may be a textbook, but our bèlè is beautiful.

Musical Martinique

All Around This World -- The Caribbean featuring Martinique

This week in our online class for kids we travel to Martinique, which we’ll find in the “Lesser Antilles.” (Don’t let the islands hear you call them that. They may get a complex.) Martinique is an “insular region” of France, meaning it is officially one of the eighteen regions of France. Martinicans are French through and through..but Martinique is also Caribbean in all the usual, complicated ways — Carib ancestry, a history of being at the mercy of seafaring and plantation-owning British and the French, and an on-again, off-again relationship with slavery that puts African culture at its core.

Our Jounen Kweyol


We end this week with our own version of a St. Lucian Jounen Kweyol celebration. Okay, so we don’t hit all the points, and, since the kids in class are generally one to five years old and not so well-versed in the historical machinations of the Colonial Era we may not be able to impart all the nuances of the holiday, but heck, can’t we still have fun? Here’s how we do it.
1) Start the music. Have students wear imaginary MADRAS to mark the occasion.
2) Start dancing. Simulate the KWADRIL, based upon the highly choreographed European quadrille.
3) SAW WOOD.
4) BAKE BREAD.
5) EAT CRAWFISH , CRAB CALALOO and ROASTED SARDINES.
5) Repeat — dance, saw, bake, eat, dance. For fun, jumble the order and go faster and faster. Saw, dance, bake, eta. Bake, eat, dance, saw. Eat, bake, saw, DANCE!