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


Rafael Cortijo helped start Salsa

We can’t end our week of music from Puerto Rico without even a nod to salsa, one of Puerto Rico’s most danceable musical exports, and one of its formative stars, Rafael Cortijo.

The musical progeny of Cuban son, from which it borrows its signature 3-2 and 2-3 clave patterns, the genre may have started in Cuba and Puerto Rico but really took root in the ’60s and ’70s in New York City where Puerto Rican immigrants fused son, mambo and little guaracha to make an extraordinary new musical form. In this video meet Rafael Cortijo, a leading Puerto Rican big band leader from the ’50s and ’60s. He and his combos started by performing only plena, then branched out to merengue and, eventually, salsa.

“Bomba’s from Puerto Rico, but first from Africa”

In music class we sing “Rule Sonda,” a bomba song that inspires us to dance, and receive a very basic, yet we hope inspiring, introduction to this essential Afro-Caribbean artform. The dance begins when one student, either chosen or who volunteers to be the dancer, gets up and starts to move. Outfitted with percussion instruments galore, the rest of the students are drummers who follow the dancer by increasing or decreasing tempo volume as dancer becomes more or less enthusiastic. For your young kids’ first foray into bomba don’t worry too much about mastery — empower dancers to dance, drummers to follow and everyone to have fun.

Puerto Rican Bomba is a joy to drum and dance

Puerto Rican bomba is an African-inspired folk music style that is deeply intertwined with dance.

The Bomba percussion ensemble consists mainly of maracas, palitos (clave-like sticks struck together), a cua (a bamboo tube struck with wooden sticks), and hand drums known as “bariles,” because they were traditionally made from the wood of barrels. There are low-pitched hand drums like the “buleador” (the “segundo”), which lays the foundation of the beat, and the high-pitched “subidor” (the “primo”) which improvises.


Jay teaching Livecast classes


When you click the appropriate link you’ll be able to put an event reminder on a Google Calendar. If you’d like to come to class in Zoom, CONTACT ME FOR THE LOGIN INFO. Ideally we’ll communicate before the day of class, but I do try to check my messages before my first class each day.

All times are U.S. Eastern Time, UTC-4. Registration and tuition details are here.


10am: “Kids Explore the Caribbean” — The Bahamas and Junkanoo

If you can’t log in, watch via Facebook Live on All Around This World’s facebook page.

If you’d like to come to class on a regular basis and get lots of information each week about the countries and cultures we’re exploring, REGISTER HERE.

To enroll in amazing online courses that take your family on a musical tour of the world: EXPLORE EVERYWHERE!


In Puerto Rico Spain meets Africa meets the United States

This week in our online class we sing and dance our way to Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island that has a long and complicated history of relationships with both Spain and the United States. In 1493 Christopher Columbus landed on Caribbean island now known as Puerto Rico, which the indigenous Taino called “Borinquen,” and declared it for the Spanish. Within fifty years the Spanish all but eradicated the Taino population, so they began to bring African slaves to the island to do hard labor. The island remained a Spanish colony, bolstered by the work of Africans, for four hundred years until the United States wrestled it away in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. Since 1898 the United States has controlled Puerto Rico’s government and economy, though not its culture. Currently Puerto Rico is a “Commonwealth” of the United States; the U.S. President is the formal chief of state but Puerto Ricans can’t vote in the presidential. Puerto Rico elects its own governor but it has no voting representation in the U.S. House or Senate.

The two-heads of the Tambora

A Dominican tambora is a bass drum that appears in various forms in various parts of Latin America but which is especially essential to merengue.

It is usually a double-headed drum, sometimes carried and sometimes fixed on a stand, sometimes with cymbals attached to provide for varying types of sound. The most traditional tamboras are converted rum barrels. The tambora in this video probably didn’t have a previous life as a rum barrel, though we have no cause to complain.

We Got the Beach

When you’re in the Caribbean, why do you go to Dominican beaches? Of course, merengue!’s Dominican Republic page describes the D.R. as “a land of contrasts,” from its hot, coastal beaches to its cold, high hills, from the vibrant urban life of Santa Domingo (“La Capital”) to the slow, more simple pace of the nearby rural areas.  The Dominican tourist infrastructure may try to direct you to all-inclusive beach resorts, but if you really want to experience the Dominican Republic — beyond the nation’s undeniably great music — feel free to explore on your own.

Johnny Ventura’s Patacon Pisao

Johnny Ventura, born as Juan de Dios, is a preeminent Dominican singer and band leader who Dominicans know for bringing American R&B and rock to merengue.

His greatest hit, which you’ll absolutely enjoy in this video, is an ode to the patacón, a flattened, fried green plaintain you’ll find in many Caribbean nations’ cuisine. Johnny Ventura is a popular musician to be sure, but he didn’t stop making friends with his tunes. From  1998 to 2002 Ventura was mayor of Santo Domingo, the DR’s capital and the largest city in the Caribbean.

Dreaming of the Dominican Republic

All Around This World -- The Caribbean featuring the Dominican Republic

This week our All Around This World online class gets quite a treat — we visit the Dominican Republic. The “D.R.” is a nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Despite having its own challenge, when the Dominican Republic compares itself to the neighbor on its Western border–which it seems to do often– it is proud of its relative prosperity and stability. As we’ll find when we look at the history of the Dominican Republic, those things have come as the result of great struggle, much of it at the hands of the famed “Generalissimo,” Rafael Trujillo. Over the thirty years of his rule, Trujillo–known as “El Jefe”/”the Boss” –renamed the capital Ciudad Trujillo, erecting a huge neon sign that read Dios y Trujillo/”God and Trujillo”, required churches to post the slogan “Dios en cielo, Trujillo en tierra”/”God in Heaven, Trujillo on Earth” and eventually reversed the the order of the phrases, making it, “Trujillo on Earth, God in Heaven.” Today the Dominican Republic is known less for its dictatorial politics than for its beach resorts, merengue music (more about that through the week).