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


Pillars of Hip Hop: MC-ing

In the late ’70s rappers (deejays speaking rhymes over rhythmic breaks) began to attract attention from musicians outside the Bronx, and even outside their own African-American and Latino communities, such as Debbie Harry of the punk/New Wave band Blondie and members of the British band The Clash. As rap music moved from the Bronx Streets to the Manhattan mainstream, record producers became eager to bring this music to a wider audience (or, as some may say, cash in on it). At just this time a fledgling New Jersey-based label called Sugar Hill Records pulled together a group of MC’s (MC=”master of ceremonies”) into an entity that became known as The Sugarhill Gang. The Gang’s three rappers–Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank and Master Gee–were not experienced MCs who hadcome up through the street party ranks, but they sure put together one catchy tune; in 1979 the Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” became the first rap song to become a radio hit. In this video we watch Sugarhill Gang go for it at the Beat Club.

Pillars of Hip Hop: DJing (Grandmaster Flash!)

Grandmaster Flash was an innovative and highly respected DJ who had begun to rival DJ Kool Herc as the most popular DJ on New York’s street party scene in the earliest ’80s. Flash was among the first to employ a technique that allowed him to take lyrics and rhythmic phrases from one record and play them simultaneously over other records. Also, while he didn’t invent “scratching“–hip hop histories generally agree that Grand Wizard Theodore was the first DJ to popularize it on the streets–Flash perfected the technique and became well-known as a disc-spinning master. He and his crew of rappers, known as the Furious Five, rose to prominence in the New York hip hop scene. In 1982 Sugarhill records released “The Message,” a rap about the many frustrations and struggles non-white youth faced on America’s streets and the song became a massive hit. (“Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head….It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.”) The rap’s success assured lyricists that they didn’t necessarily have to dilute their messages to find radio play or even achieve stardom well beyond the boundaries of the Bronx. In this video we watch Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five perform “The Message” on Soul Train in 1983. The group’s main rapper on the song isn’t Flash himself, but Mellie Mel.

Pillars of Hip Hop: Breaking

This week in our online classes we exlpore the five “pillars” of hip hop. Today: B-boying! Break dancing, known more commonly as “Breaking” or “B-boying,” originated on the streets of New York in the 1970s and ’80s, mainly among African-American and Puerto Rican youth, but has since spread worldwide. “B-boys” and “b-girls” took to street corners to demonstrate their dancing, using cardboard at their dance floor and the city as their arena. The term “breaking” may have originated as a ’70s as a slang term for becoming excited or causing an uproar. It may also refer to dance moves which would take place on the “breaks,” the drum beats that stand out fill the space between a song’s lyrics. In this video we meet some masterful B-boys  from the ’80s.  Yeah!

Hip Hop is Elemental

Let’s tour the Bronx of the 1980’s in this video as we meet the five “pillars” of hip hop. Hip hop historians sometimes disagree about the exact number of the elemetns of hip hop, but all agree there are core principles that unite the culture. In our online classes we’ll go with five: B-BOYING: acrobatic dancing on the street (also known as B-Girling, Breaking), GRAFFITI: including tagging: drawing or spraying designs in a public place, MCing: expression through insightful rap or lyrics, DJing:  Spinning/Scratching/mixing music, originally using records and a turntable, and KNOWLEDGE: a broad consciousness that binds all the elements of hip hop together.

What you hear is not a test, I’m rapping to the beat

All Around This World US and Canada "Everywhere Map"

This week in our online class we  hip hop the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop and we don’t stop. Yeah, it’s hip hop time.

Much history of hip hop has been written since the first B-Boy upped his first uprock, and while almost each has its own claim as to who was the first, who was the best and who made the old sound new, most agree on a few pivotal figures without which hip hop would never have formed. For example, after paying due homage to West African Griots, who use music to accompany their epic tales, and drawing direct ancestral lines from them to late ’60s and early ’70s revolutionary African-American poets like The Last Poets and Gil Scot-Heron, every history of the music worth its salt describes Jamaican-born, Bronx-based DJ Kool Herc as “the godfather of hip hop.”

Over the next week we’re going to visit some of our old school hip hop ancestors. We may even try to top rock, down rock, or just plain rock some dance moves ourselves.


One Fond Embrace, Aloha ‘Oe, Until We Meet Again

We end this week of gorgeous Hawaiian music with the All Around This World as-good-as-we-can-muster version of the most classic of all classic Hawaiian songs, “Aloha ‘Oe,” which means “farewell to you.” Hawaii’s last queen, Queen Lili’uokalani,  wrote the lyrics, in part to a melody borrowed from a popular song of the day, when she witnessed the parting of two people in love. Here is Huapala.org’s translation: “Proudly swept the rain by the cliffs/As it glided through the trees/Still following ever the bud/The ‘ahihi lehua of the vale, Farewell to you, farewell to you, The charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers, One fond embrace, ‘Ere I depart, Until we meet again.”

The Soft Gentle Breeze

“Ahe Lau Makani” is one of the most enduring melodies attributed to Hawaii’s beloved final queen, Lili’uokalani. Written in the 1860s and co-credited by Queen Lili’uokalani to her sister Likelike and an historically unknown friend Kapoli, the song, whose title can be translated as, “The Soft Gentle Breeze,” is about yearning for a loved one. Let’s enjoy this video of a performance of the song by Hawaii’s Side Order Band.

Oh So Beautiful Kona

In our online class this week we celebrate Hawaiian Mele, classic Hawaiian songs and chants that tell glorious tales of the islands. Many Hawaiian mele proudly share the love Hawaiians hold for their beautiful home. Songs like “Wai Hu’ihu’i O Ke Aniani,” which we sing in class as “Konikoni,” offer lush lyrical images of the islands’ fragrant flowers.  In “Pa Mai Ana Ka Makani” — also commonly known as “Kona” because it sings the praises of the Kona region of the Big Island — composer Lydia Nawahine Kekuewa lovingly recalls the area’s natural beauty. Let’s enjoy this video of Hoku Zuttermeister with Ioane Burns performing a swinging version of the song.

Steel Guitar Rag

Yesterday we looked kindly on the possible Indian origins of the Hawaiian slide/lap steel guitar. Whichever musician was the first to slide steel on a set of strings, guitar historians agree that the Hawaiian steel guitar made its formal debut on the continental mainland in 1915 at Hawaii’s pavilion at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, a massive 7 month long exposition that celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal and attracted millions of visitors. The steel guitar sound so intrigued and inspired Americans that in 1916 record companies sold thousands of copies of Hawaiian-inspired records and many Hawaiian model guitars, along with steel guitar “do-it-yourself’ kits that included song books, steel rods, finger and thumb picks and a mechanism to lift the strings far enough above the body of the guitar that pressing the slide on them wouldn’t make them buzz. Let’s watch Leon McAuliffe and Cimarron Boys play the Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys lap steel classic, “Steel Guitar Rag.”

Hawaiian Slide Guitar: Made in India

While many music historians assert that Hawaiian lap steel/pedal steel guitar originated in the late 1800s with Hawaiian guitarist Joseph Kekuku, some assert that the first steel guitar player was actually Gabriel Dayion, a musician who the Portuguese brought from India to Honolulu in the bonds of slavery. He played guitar in a traditional Indian slide style known as gottuvadyam. Let’s learn from BobBrozman.com about how slide guitar became popular in India  as we watch American musician and ethnomusicologist Bob Brozman introduce us to the Hawaiian version of the form.