All Around This World is an interactive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program for children 0-9 years old that encourages kids 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  dynamic online classes,  CDs, concerts and workshopsengaging homeschool and classroom lessons, “musical maps” and participatory parent-child music-making Jay, and All Around This World’s expanding community of “culture-bearers,” hope to make the world a bit smaller one song at a time.

* Nice note: All of the pictures of culture-bearers in the image accompanying this post are screenshots from actual All Around This World teaching videos.

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

How You Keepin’?

We leap at the occasion of our visit to St. Lucia to celebrate Antillean Creole.

English is the official language of St. Lucia, but about 80% of the population speaks Antillean Creole, which is a Creole based on French and mixed with vocabulary from African languages and Carib. Each year on the last Sunday in October St. Lucians celebrate “Jounen Kweyol” to express pride in Creole language and culture. (We’ll learn more about Jounen Kweyol later this week.) Enjoy this video of the St. Lucia National Youth choirs as you say learn to say hello and goodbye as one might in St. Lucia: hello (how you keepin’?) is “Ka ou fè?” and goodbye (see you later) is “Ovwa.”

Sweet St. Lucia

All Around This World map of the Caribbean featuring St. Lucia

This week in our online class we go LOW — down deep into the so-called “Lesser Antilles,” a stretch of delightful islands in the southern Caribbean. We start today with a visit to St. Lucia, where the first inhabitants of the island, the Arawak who lived there for hundreds of years before the Caribs came in the 800s and pushed them out. Europeans settled until in the 1550s when a feared pirate known as Wooden Leg used it as a base from which to attack Spanish ships. For 150 years the British and French fought over the island; it changed hands between them fourteen times before the British finally pushed the French out in 1814. The island became an independent nation in 1979 but is still part of the British Commonwealth.

Rocking Steady with Phyliss Dillon

Jamaica’s Phyliss Dillon is as steady as rocksteady gets.

Rocksteady is a form of ska that arose in the rough urban neighborhoods of Kingston in the mid-’60s. Slower in tempo than ska, running contrary to the optimism that gripped must of the rest of post-independence Jamaica, rocksteady formed a bridge between boisterous dancehall ska and the more rootsy, political grooves of reggae.  In this video we meet Phyliss Dillon, the groovin’ “Queen of Rocksteady.” We let the Queen sing us out on the last post of our Jamaica week. Onward!

 

The Jolly Boys happily make Mento

Let’s meet Jamaica’s treasured mento icons, The Jolly Boys.
Mento” is Jamaican “country” played initially in rural areas with a simple guitar/drum/sax and/or banjo accompaniment in which vocalists sang mainly humorous lyrics about rural life. In the 1950s, Mento’s “Golden Age,” the style embraced Trinidadian calypso (though it remained distinct) and become popular in urban dance halls. The Jolly Boys have been at the heart of Jamaican mento since their formation in 1945. Though they continue to tour and record, they remain loyal to their main local gig as the house band at GeeJam, a Port Antonio, Jamaica, hotel. As of their appearance in this video, they’re sure at the top of their game.

Kumina in Jamaica

We start our week of music of Jamaica with Jamaican Kumina, an early Afro-Caribbean religious folk music that paid, and still continues to pay, homage to “the spirits” through communal drumming, chanting and dance.

We begin here because most subsequent genres of Jamaican music can trace its roots back to kumina, and through kumina, back further to Africa. Jamaican Kumina is an ancestor of Nyabinghi music, which itself intertwined with ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, dancehall and beyond. This video will start you on your way.

Jammin’ in Jamaica

All Around This World -- The Caribbean featuring Jamaica

This week in our online class we’re fortunate enough to travel to Jamaica, a small island nation that has had a disproportionate influence on global music and culture.  Jamaican musicians have either originated or advanced so very many musical styles such as, in roughly chronological order, Kumina, Nyabinghi, Mento, Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, Dub and Dancehall/Ragga. Though we’re going to meet a few of these genres over the course of the week, there won’t be enough time. We’ll leave wanting more, and more, and more….

Wake Up Early and Enjoy Junkanoo

How lucky are we that we get to celebrate Junkanoo?

While a lot of the traditional folk songs from The Bahamas have to do with boats, sailing, pirates, rum running and other maritime pursuits, the islands are actually best known for “Junkanoo,” the celebratory music that arose from the yearly Junkanoo festivals which take place on December 26 and on New Year’s Day. Both festivals start at 1 a.m. and go until 9 a.m. (Seriously!) There are different accounts of how Bahamanians, and those in other parts of the Caribbean like Jamaica, celebrate Junkanoo, but most agree that the tradition is over two hundred years old and began as a dancing celebration of African slaves to mark their yearly three day Christmas “holiday” or of former slaves to mark their emancipation. Early junkanoo dancers costumed themselves in whatever materials they could find, gluing paper or feathers to their clothes. Today there are extensive junkanoo groups, like the one featured in this video, that work on their colorful costumes all year and compete for prizes in an official parade, hit cowbells, play drums and blow conch shells as horns.

 

 

“Speak Like We!”

Let’s speak Bahamian English!

People in the Bahamas speak a dialect of English that playfully blends British, African and Taino words. For example, in Bahamian English, instead of saying “The children are watching the fish,” you would say “Duh chirren dem is vatchin’ duh fishes.” (Want examples? Visit BahamasGuru.com and “Speak Like We!“) Bahamian English is different than Bahamian Creole, which is a creole based on English.

Take a Saw, then “Rake ‘n’ Scrape”

Run to the cupboard for instruments to get ready for some Bahamian rake-n-scrape.


In the Bahamas you don’t need traditional instruments to make music. Look in the toolshed and go forth! You may well find yourself making  Bahamian “rake ‘n’ scrape” music, in which musicians accompany European-style dances like the Bahamian quadrille and the polka by hitting a goombay drum, bending a saw and scraping it with a small tool such as a screwdriver. Enjoy some raking and scraping in this video.

The Sun Shines Brighter in the Bahamas

All Around This World -- The Caribbean featuring the Bahamas

This week in our online class we’re not only lucky enough to be going to the beautiful Bahamas, but we have the honor of marching into the street, drums in hand, to celebrate freedom. Whatever smile is on your face right now, it could be bigger in the Bahamas. Whatever your money is doing in your relatively traceable domestic bank account, it could probably be frolicking much more freely, and more privately, in the Bahamas. So let’s go there.