All Around This World class in action

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  dynamic online classes,  CDs, concerts and workshopsengaging 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


My Cow Loves Me

Okay, so this one is silly. The original version of this song, which originated among traditional Kurdish communities in Iran, and which I first heard on a Smithsonian Folkways album called “Kurdish Folk Music from Western Iran,” is known on the album as “Gawas: Magna Lawaneh.” The liner notes say, “Gawas are sung while cows are being milked….The call ‘pi pi pi’ is utilized both in the song and separately to cause the cow to remain in place and to stand still during the milking process. The song functions to soothe the cow during milking and the cow is addressed with many affectionate terms, ‘You are dear, you are my life, you are my eyes, etc….'”] Here are the lyrics of All Around This World version–a very loose interpretation:

Pi pi pi my cow loves me, Wow wow wow, I love my cow
Pi pi pi my cow loves me, Wow wow wow, I love my cow
I love my cow I love my cow I love my cow I love my cow
I love my cow, I really love my cow.


Old music that’s new? Or, new music that’s old?

Farya Faraji makes new music that is also reeeeally old.
The several thousand year-long history of Iran goes hand in hand with several thousand years of Iranian music-making. Folk musicians have surely been singing in their homes and villages since the dawn of time, though until the modern age classical musicians primarily performed in the royal court–in fact Wikipedia’s “Music of Iran” page claims that, “the period of Xosroparvis reign [590 AD to 628 AD] is regarded as a ‘golden age of Iranian music.’” Guess it’s all been downhill from there. The music of the song in this video, “Dildārāgān,” is not ancient — Farya Faraji composed it for the album “Songs of Old Iran” — but the lyrics are a translation of “Ghazal number 5,” a work by 14th century early Modern Persian poet Hafez. That’s pretty old…right?

Googoosh still got it

After all these years, Googoosh still knows how to wow a crowd….

Born “Faegeh Atashin” in 1950 in Tehran, “Googoosh” (Atashin’s nickname from birth) began performing at an early age alongside her father, an Iranian-Azerbaijani actor and acrobat. She started to act in movies before she was 10, released her first album in 1966 and over the next thirteen years became the most popular actress and singer in Iran. When the 1979 revolution took place Googoosh was in the United States and could have chosen to stay abroad, but instead she returned to Iran. Back in her homeland she served a three month prison sentence for living with a man out of wedlock, then she had to choose how she would react to the Islamicists’ ban on female vocalists. Rather than flee the country or attempt to perform in protest, Googoosh remained silent; she didn’t sing in public again for over 20 years. In 2000 Googoosh embarked on an international “comeback tour,” performing in 19 cities around the world including Dubai, where the audience included many adoring Iranians. Googoosh continues to perform to enthusiastic crowds, as you’ll see in this video, though, especially after speaking out against the Iranian leadership’s crackdown on 2009 protests, her relationship with her home country’s government continues to be complicated.

We Arrive in Iran

All Around This World -- Iran
This week in our online class…IRAN! Of all the nations whose narratives stretch back several thousand continuous years, Iran is one of the most proud. Despite lengthy, often unwelcome visits by Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, the Russians, the British and others, Persian (now known as Iranian) people have lived on the same land for about four millennia. They have maintained an essentially consistent language and developed groundbreaking art, science and other elements of culture, all the while adapting to people of different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds that either invaded Persia or, when Persia was in the conquering mood, found themselves as Persian subjects.

In the 1800’s colonial nations such as England and Russia occupied Persia and in the 1900’s empowered a Western-leaning Shah (King). In the 1950s when the Shah faced popular opposition by Mohammad Mosaddeq and his efforts to nationalize the Iranian oil industry the U.S. and British engineered a coup to depose him. In 1979 an Islamic, forcibly anti-Western movement fronted by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overthrew the monarch. Since then Iran has been a fervent, though not monolithic, critic of the West, and also a major power in the region…so let’s go there!

Komitas and Dear Shogher

Soghomon Soghomonian — commonly known as “Komitas” — was an Armenian priest and early pioneer ethnomusicologist.

Following his ordination as a priest he studied music in Germany, applying Western musical training to his documentation of thousands of Armenian and Kurdish folk songs, such as the one we see in this wonderful video, “Shoger Jan,” an Armenian folk song that tells the tale of our beloved Shogher who ventured out onto the mountain before snow started to fall but, since snow began, has not returned: “Clouds have gathered, snow isn’t falling, Dear Shogher, The boy hasn’t come back from the mountain, Dear Shogher, Rock in the wind, wave in the wind, Dear Shogher, Snow has appeared from the clouds, Dear Shogher.” In 1915 the Ottoman Empire deported Komitas, and thousands of other intellectuals from Armenia, to a prison camp, as part of the Armenian genocide. He suffered a mental breakdown and, sadly, lived in psychiatric hospitals the rest of his life.

Announcing the All Around This World Culture-Bearer Project

AATW Culture-bearer project

ANNOUNCING the All Around This World “Culture-bearer project,” a passionately ambitious project to replace me (Jay) as the primary teacher of international songs, dances and cultural experiences in all All Around This World recorded lesson videos with inspirational “CULTURE-BEARERS” — educators who have a direct ancestral and/or other profound connection to the lesson at hand.

I love being a teacher who you and your kids trust to introduce you both to songs and dances from over 100 countries. I appreciate that my role is to lead my students in a joint exploration of All Around This World’s global songs, dances and celebrations, as we learn about the cultural experiences with open hearts, but from the “outside.”

Over the course of the ’22 – ’23 school year I intend to work with over 150 global culture-bearers to create videos introducing all of All Around This World’s cultural experience lessons straight from the heart. YAY!

Watch this space in the spring of 2023 for debuts of videos — like the one pictured in this post, of Sandunga from Cuba, teaching the cha cha cha — that introduce songs, dances and holiday celebrations that originate from countries such as:

Argentina (Marcelo teaches tango), Bulgaria (Tedy teaches Bulgarian rhythms), Chile (Orietta teaches the Cueca), Cuba (Sandunga teaches the cha cha cha), Georgia (Ivlita and Tatlui teach about Supras), Ghana (Moses teaches Kpanlogo), Haiti (Dieufel teaches Rara), Hungary (Krisztina teaches Hungarian dance), Malawi (Chisomo and friends teach the Malipenga), Mexico (Magaly teaches Son Jarocho dancing), Moldova (Stas teaches about accordions), the Philippines (Esther teaches tinikling), Romania (Mihail teaches Romanian dance), Trinidad (Mark teaches Exetmpo)…and many more.

If you are an educator who would like to share elements of your culture with my young students, be in touch.

Armenian Music is Everywhere

Richard Hagopian shows us the way to Armenia….

The music of the Southern Caucasus has its roots in two thousand years of cultural, ethnic and religious struggle, its mere survival a testament to the persistence and communal strength of Georgian, Azeri and Armenian people. While contemporary musicians from the Caucasus readily embrace global genres, especially those who live in emigrant communities in America and Europe, artists who perform the region’s traditional music know that when they’re passing their ancient music to a new generation, they’re doing much more than just singing songs. For example, Armenia has a long, rich history during which its music has had the the chance to establish deep, resonant roots. Today’s Armenian music is a mix of ancient Church liturgy, super-ancient pre-Christian chants, relatively new indigenous folk (only centuries old) and raucously ultra-modern Euro-pop that draws substantially on what came before. Substantial populations of Armenians live and create music not only in their homeland but in many communities abroad. Let’s start the week this video of a musician of Armenian descent, born and raised in the diaspora — Armenian-American oud player Richard Hagopian.

Georgia on My Mind. And Armenia. And Azerbaijan.

All Around This World: The Caucasus (Georgia)

This week our online class takes us to one of the world’s “roughest neighborhoods” – the Caucasus Mountains, where we sing songs from three countries in the Southern Caucausus —  Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. These three countries enjoy life in an oft-disputed mountain area that’s not only located between the Black and Caspian Seas, but also between three of the world’s great conquering empires — the Persians, the Ottomans and the Russians. Each of the three nations of the Southern Caucasus has its own language, its own culture and its own history. Each also has its own long list of historic struggles, and each has had to face them and press ahead in its own unique way. The three have often had the inclination to unite, first in an unsuccessful attempt after World War I to form the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, then, within the USSR, as part of the Transcaucasian Federation, which disbanded in 1936–but unfortunately, as of late, each of these little countries has had a hard time living beside its neighbors in peace. This we’re going to enjoy some music from the mountains, and not worry so much about our nosy neighbors.

Turkish Plot Twist

Turkish whirling dervishes turn us ’round and and ’round….
We end our week of music from Turkey, this nation that historically has held public secularism so dear, with a religious twist. The Melevia Order of Muslims was founded in Turkey by folloers of 13th century Perisan poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, also known as “Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi.” The Mevlevi are “Sufis” — those who practice a “mystical” Islam. They are more publicly known for their spinning dances, as we see in this video, which they do while engaged in the devotional “dhikr.” The term “whirling dervish” can be used to refer to a member of the Sufi movement, or, more broadly, those who have chosen to devote themselves to spiritual service. In this video we meet the “whirling dervishes” of the Galata Mevlevi House in Istanbul.