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


A Short-Necked Lute with a Long History

The oud, a stunning stringed instrument, is at the core of traditional ensembles all around West Asia and the Middle East. Potentially derived from the Persian “barbat” and other stringed lutes going back over a thousand years, the oud differs from other stringed instruments because it has no frets — dividers on the “neck” of a stringed instrument that allow a musician to make clearly differentited notes ring separately. An oud player can place his or her fingers on the neck to either play a clearly deliniated tone, one that corresponds with a note on the major or minor scale, or can press the strings to the fretboard in between distinct notes, making “quarter tones.” This makes the oud a perfect match for Arabic, Persian and other West Asian musics, which gain so much of their strength from the tones between the tones.

In this video we enjoy a performance by, as the YouTube description says, “the first girl graduated as a soloist represent[ing] Egypt in the Arab Oud House and the third graduate of the Arab Oud House.” Does the YouTube description say let us know her name? Nah.


We say Salam, Shalom, Merhaba and more to the Middle East

All Around This World West Asia and the Middle East "Everywhere Map"
Welcome, friends, to a particularly fascinating season of All Around This World online classes for kids. Over the next several months we’re going to explore the Middle East and West Asia, enjoying so many musics and cultures from around the region. There is not one unified “West Asian” or “Middle Eastern” music, but rather a constellation of different musics from the region that overlap in structure, tone and rhythm, from ancient Persian Sufi music and Arabic classical music, to more modern styles like the Turkish, Arab-influenced “Arabesque” and Egypt’s “generational” music, al-jeel. We’ll be singing songs from countries that stretch from Egypt in the West to easternmost Iran, from the top of Turkey to Yemen’s southern tip, in the process crossing the whole of Israel/Palestine and the Levant. Over the next three months we’ll be dancing the dabke, singing Azeri love songs and celebrating the heck out of Nowruz.

A Strong Song from the Northern Cree

This week in class we sing a song by the Thompson River First Nation of Western Canada, something members of the tribe may sing with pride at a “Pow Wow.” A pow wow is a Native American/First Nations social gathering, a time for Native American tribes — sometimes just one tribe, but more often many — to sing, dance, socialize and respect their communal traditions. Music features prominently at most pow wows — drumming around a big gathering drum, singing with enthusiastic joy. Dancers interplay with the singing and rhythm, taking cues from, and giving cues to, the musicians. Some tribes’ songs are 100% vocables — sounds that replace distinct lyrics to experess emotion. Songs of other tribes, like the Cree, Pikuni, Lakhota and Salish, often feature lyrics in Native languages. In this video we enjoy a powerful pow wow performance by members of the Northern Cree.

Jil Jalala

In class this week, as we sing “Arsomo Baba,” a kids’ song from Morocco, another part of our brain wants to make sure to pay homage to one of the most important “grown-up” Moroccan musical acts, Jil Jalala. Drawing their main influence from traditional Moroccan styles sung in ancient Arabic, Jil Jalala rose to prominence in the 1970’s, providing a musical sountrack for the Moroccan “Green March” to Western Sahara, disputing its occupation by Spain. In the ’80s the group joined forces with Bakbou, an important musician performing in the “Gnawa” style. Though their line-up has changed over the years, the ensemble continues to fuse social commentary with down-home Moroccan musical tradition.

Let the Old Man Dance

This week in class we sing “Amari Szi Amari,” a song that is a favorite in Romani communities around Europe, especially during weddings. In this Romani dance song the family welcomes a new daughter-in-law and implores the patriarch to do a dance to get the party started. In our version we sing, “Amari szi, amari, Amari szi Amarai, Ay dai dai dai dai dai dai dai dai dai, Let the old man dance, let the old man dance. Let the old man dance,” and then, “Ay dai dai dai dai dai dai dai dai dai!”

After all this time, I know where to find the key

This week in class we sing “La Llave,”which means “the key.” All Around This World adapted this from the Spanish song, “Estrellita,” which is about a girl finding the best occupation for herself, disliking all of them except the job of teacher. (“Estrellita is looking for a job, Ma-tey-ree-lay-ree-lay-ree-lay…What kind of job will we give her…? We’ll let her work as a cook…She doesn’t like that job…We’ll let her work as a teacher…That job she likes!”) I hope you enjoy the video above, the one of me introducing and singing the song. Even if you do, you’re still allowed to enjoy this version more.

Singing with the Nlaxa’pamuk Nation

In class this week we sing a song we call “Thompson River Dance.” The Nlaxa’pamuk Nation, formerly known as the Thompson Rivers First Nation, are indigenous to British Colombia, Canada. They are said to have links to indigenous populations that may have entered North America via the Bering Strait land bridge, differentiating them from the Hopi and Pueblo whose origins are more likely Meso-American. The lyrics of the All Around This World version of “Thompson River Dance” are “vocables,” which are sounds made in a song in place of words: “Hey hey hey hey, oh oh hey hey!” In this video we hear a different song from the Thompson River Nation. The vocables are different; the vocables are strong.

Did I hear someone say YODELING MEDLEY?

This week in our online class we sing a song we call “Tra La La,” which originated from Germany and Switzerland. The original title of the tune has more to it: “Rosestock, Holderbluet – Landler.” A landler is a traditional Bavavarian/Austrian/German/Swiss folk dance, usually played in 3/4 (waltz-like) time. In our version we laugh, we sing, we laugh some more. In this video we may not quite be hearing landlers, but we do get a chance to enjoy a mix of music from roughtly the same region. Let’s laugh, sing, play the alphorn and YODEL!

A break between seasons to sing sing sing

All Around This World Global "Everywhere" map
This week we take a step back from all the annoying learning we’ve been doing – acquiring knowledge? deep thought? boo! – and just take a moment to sing. We’re going to bounce around the world in our songs this week, enjoying the very last note out of every one. We start in Germany and Switzerland with a lilting, laughing “landler,” which takes us into the Bavarian and Swiss Alps, then travel all the way to the westernmost coast of Canada, to British Columbia, where we make silly singing sounds with inspiration from the people of Nlaxa’pamuk First Nation. From there we go to Latin America where we search for the key to life (and/or our car keys), after that to a Roma wedding in the most exuberant parts of Eastern Europe, and finally to Northern Africa – Morocco to be exact – where “paint” our children using scarves of every color.

Did you See What I Saw?

There are a lot of do-it-yourself instruments out there, especially in the realm of American folk music, and All Around This World loves every single one of them. If you really forced us to choose favorites…we’d still choose every single one. If you REALLY forced us to choose a favorite, we may be inclined to choose the “musical saw.” A “musical saw,” or singing saw, is, well, a saw. You take a saw, take a bow, and bend the saw as you bow it. When you play it right, it sounds otherworldly, like a theramin. When you play it wrong, it sounds, well, like a saw.