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


Follow us to the Philippines

All Around This World map of Southeast Asia featuring the Philippines

In our online class this week we visit the island nation of the Philippines — 7,107 islands to be exact — which is unique among Southeast Asian countries in the fact that its colonial history brought it under the control of both the Spanish and the United States. Filipino culture is a mix of Spanish, American and indigenous strains, with influence from others in the region such as China, Malaysia and Indonesia thrown in for good measure. Over the course of the next week we’ll clang gongs, flap our arms like butterflies and sing a surreptitious song about love.

Keeping up with Malaysia’s favorite “keepie uppie”

Yesterday we learned about one of Malaysia’s favorite sports — sepak takraw. The sport has the illustrious designation of being a “keepie uppie,” a game in which the player uses every part of the body except the hands — feet, legs, knees, shoulders, chest and head — to keep a ball or other object from falling. Hackey sack is a keepie-uppie, as are games played internationally like footvolley (Portugal), football tennis (Czech Republic), jianzi (China), sipa (the Philippines) and bossaball (started in Spain, but now played worldwide). You should definitely clear some space then try sepak takraw, or any keepie uppie, in your classroom. Your kids will really get a  get a kick (HA!) out of playing them.

Sepak Takraw — Yay!

In class this week as we learn about Malaysia we really have fun playing the sport Sepak takraw, one of the nation’s favorite sports  Sepak takraw is essentially a cross between volleyball and hackeysack. The sepak takraw ball is a small-ish one, made of rattan (a kind of palm). The three players on each team stand on each side of what looks like a volleyball/badminton net. As in volleyball they must keep the ball from touching the ground on their side. As in hackeysack they may only touch ball with their feet. And, as in any international sport we meet in music class, when we “play sepak takraw” we joyfully let the toddlers bounce a ball and say “yay!”

My Rickshaw

Yesterday we met the tourist-friendly Malaysian city of Malacca where, to our delight, tourists ride about in three-wheeled, flower-adorned pedicabs (rickshaws). In class we pretend to be hard working rickshaw drivers, as we sing “My Rickshaw,” pedaling from sunrise to sundown: “Abang beca, abang beca di tengah jalan, I drive my rickshaw in the town, Abang beca, abang beca di tengah jalan, I pedal hard to keep those wheels going ’round . . . .” In this video I’m sitting on a chair to teach the song, but the real fun takes place in the classroom. There we get down on the ground and pedal pedal pedal, climbing all the way up an imaginary hill — which, even in our imagination, is hard work! — then letting gravity grab us as we race toward town.

Riding a Rickshaw in Malacca — Three is the Magic Number

One of our favorite songs of this season is, “My Rickshaw” (“Abang Beca”) a traditional song about the rickshaw drivers in the tourist-friendly parts of Melacca Malaysia, a port city on the southwestern coast of the Malay Peninsula. Founded as a port town in the early 1400’s, Melacca had became a strategic pan-Asian trading hub long before the Portuguese conquered it in 1511. The Dutch ruled from 1641 to 1798, then the British until World War II, then the Japanese during the War…eventually Melacca became part of independent Malaya. Today it is a tourist-friendly, Portuguese-oriented port town, and a UNESCO-registered World Heritage site. We sing in class about the town’s uniquely colorful, musical three-wheeled pedicabs.

Pop Yeh Yeh

Malaysia’s rich tradition of nurturing folk music doesn’t prevent it from embracing Western pop. In the 1960s the Beatles and other Western bands became popular in Malaysia, inspiring local musicians to create their own rock. (In the ’80s, music journalists looking back on the style gave it the name “Pop Yeh Yeh.”) Since the mid ’80s Malaysia has been one of Asia’s foremost centers of R&B, and rap, and, since the mid ’90s, Malay Pop. Typical of a country that readily blends the old and the new, Islamic pop styles like nasyid allow musicians to forge modern musical ground while maintaining their own ancient religious and cultural beliefs.

The multifaceted music of Malaysia: Kertok, Ronggeng…Dondang Sayang!

Malaysian music, like so much of Malaysian culture and society, is the result of an ever-evolving interplay between Indonesian, Thai, Filipino, Chinese and global (especially Islamic) styles. Several kinds of Malaysian traditional music have developed as a mix of local and international forms, like traditional xylophone “kertok” ensembles from the Western Malay Kelatanese communities along the South China Sea, Arabian-influenced zapin music (and the accompanying zapin dance),  violin/drum/accordion and gong folk music called “ronggeng” from Malacca and, as we see in this video, dondang savang, a “slow and intense” genre built from Indian, Arabian, Chinese and Portuguese influences.

Malaysia is always both this and that

All Around This World map of Southeast Asia featuring Malaysia
This week our online class takes us to very modern Malaysia, a country that is engaged in many balancing acts at once. An economic powerhouse that boasts skyscrapers, superhighways and enthusiastic international industry, Malaysia is also home to millions who live simply and in accordance with ancient traditions. Geographically, Malaysia balances two distinct regions separated by the South China Sea: Peninsular Malaysia, the urban hub of the nation, and Malaysian Borneo, whose many, many animal species help make it “megadiverse.” Religiously, Malaysia balances a Muslim majority with its Buddhist and other religious minorities. Ethnically, Malaysia is exceedingly conscious about balancing the rights and privileges of indigenous Malaysian people, known as the “Bumiputra” with those of Chinese Malaysians. Because of all this balancing sometimes Malaysia seems modern and easy to understand. Then one runs up against a strict cultural practice or an Islamic law enforced by the nation’s “Religious Police,” and the contemporary Malaysia seems to disappear. . . .


Sai Sai Sings

Sai Sai Khan Hlaing is Myanmar’s most popular ethnic Shan hip hop artist/model/novelist/actor. His great-grandfather, Sao San Tun, was one of the signatories to the February 12, 1949 Panglong agreement that originated the modern state of Myanmar (and also one of the first objects of Myanmar political assassination, on July 19, 1949). Sai Sai grew up in relative privilege, majored in English at Dagon University and earned a graduate degree in English from the University of Foreign Languages. He has since become a celebrity in Myanmar, and a subjecxt of much gossip.

Bang a Gong

Yesterday we met three delightful 12 year-old Burmese nuns who introduced us to their daily life. We simulate this schedule in class as a way to connect with the kids of Myanmar and also with the nation’s respect for Buddhist traditions.

What is the daily life of a Burmese monk or nun? Here are some highlights:

1) you wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. in complete darkness
2) you pray
3) you receive “alms,” which are gifts to monks or nuns from the lay population
4) LISTEN FOR THE GONG! At 7 a.m. the gong says it’s breakfast time
5) you care for the temple compound, ideally with a repetitive task, like sweeping, you can do while meditating
6) At 11:30 a.m. eat leftovers from breakfast, which will compose your second and last meal of the day. [some monks only eat once a day]
7) Study or meditate from 1pm to 6pm
8) 7pm: pray
9) 8pm, listen to sermons
10) go to sleep. Dream monkly or nunly dreams.

In class we separate each of these activities with the sound of a gong. While our “gong” is most likely a drum cymbal or pot lid, if you have any chance to access to a gong that’s anything like the gongs in this video, DO IT. And, as you’ll notice in this video, if you’re a reporter doing a story on huge Burmese gongs and have a chance to use the line, “the craftsmen…are hoping their innovations RESONATE with buyers…” DO IT.