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.

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Amazed by Africa

All Around This World Africa "Everywhere Map"

This week our online class celebrates SUCCESS! In our last three months of classes we’ve been traveling, metaphorically, around the very real continent of Africa, celebrating the history, culture and, most enthusiastically, the many many musics of this infinitely extraordinary continent. We sang, we danced, and we sang some more. We take this last week to enjoy some of our favorite African music, bittersweet for we know we’ll soon be moving on.

The Lion Doesn’t Really Sleep Tonight

We end our online class South Africa week — far too soon — with a musical theft of epic proportion. The most famous South African song in the Western Hemisphere must be “Wimoweh,” a traditional South African tune brought to America by folk legend Pete Seeger in the ’50s, popularized in 1961 by a vocal group called the Tokens, Disnified (and generating immense profit) in the 1994 film “The Lion King” …except “Wimoweh” is not a traditional tune–it’s a “Mbube (The Lion),” a song composed by South African musician Solomon Linda  Linda died in poverty in 1962. Only after the Disney version generated an estimated $15 million in revenue did Linda’s heirs successfully sue for compensation. You’ll find a detailed (and somewhat snide) account of this tale on the website, 3rdearmusic.com.

By the way, lions don’t typically live in the jungle–they live in the savannah, and, while lions do sleep up to 20 hours a day and therefore could technically be “sleeping tonight,” lions are primarily nocturnal. Jeez!


Music as Revolution, Revolution as Music

The 2002 documentary Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony shows us that South Africa’s anti-Apartheid movement was a musical revolution. Songs of lament, songs of struggle, songs of rage and songs of hope…South African music wasn’t just a byproduct of anti-Apartheid activism. Instead, songs generated activism, unified mass action and propelled the South African people to victory.

Thinantsha — We Are the Youth

In our online class for kids we don’t shy away from Apartheid, though we know explaining such a stain on human history to kids can be tricky. We do emphasize the resolve of South Africans, and their victories. For example, South African exiles living in Tanzania recorded “Thinantsha (We Are the Youth),” an anti-Apartheid song in the 1960s to mark their defiance of the Afrikaner government and their determination to succeed in their struggle for equality. The anti-Apartheid forces certainly proved their persistence; Apartheid did not end until the early 1990s.

A Giant of South African Jazz

South African composer, singer, activist, trumpeter, cornetist and, last but certainly not least, FLUGELHORNIST, Hugh Masekela has transcended national and musical boundaries since the 1960’s, seamlessly fusing strong South African traditional sounds with international jazz. Join him on the “Coal Train” in this video and you’ll be right there with him in the groove.  (Watch all the way through and you’ll get it.)

We Travel with Mom, and Pete Seeger, to Pretoria

“He Motsoala” is our African travel song. Pete Seeger and the Song Swappers reworked a traditional South African song into “He Motsoala” for their Bantu Choral Folk Songs recording. Seeger’s version of “He Motsoala” — and ours — is about a mother who travels to the South African city of Pretoria to buy a license for the wedding of her daughter.

The Magical Mahotella Queens

South African music transcends. Born of struggle but rising above protest, rooted in the very specific history of a nation divided yet eagerly universal, inherently optimistic despite it all. We could do worse than to start with the Mahotella Queens, whose 1960’s “mbaqanga” music, with jangling guitars and crisp choral harmonies, rose from the townships and inspired revolution and dance.

Celebrating Survival in South Africa

All Around This World Map of Africa featuring South Africa

This week, in our online class for kids, we near the end of this season’s journey by celebrating the survival of South Africa, a country with an educated and highly motivated population and every intent of succeeding in the face of great challenges, moving beyond its troubled past. And how much do we love South African music…? So much.

To a Thousand More Years of Mbira

We end this week’s Zimbabwean musical adventure with one of the world’s sweetest instruments — the melodic “thumb piano” known as the mbira. The mbira is an African instrument composed of metal tines of varying lengths attached to a small wooden board; hold it in your hands, pluck the tines and make beautiful music. The instrument has existed in one form or another all over southern Africa for more than thousand years–first with bamboo tines, then eventually with metal–and over time dozens of slight variations have developed, resulting in the existence of mbira-like instruments all over the continent: the akogo (Uganda), the gyilgo (Ghana), the ikembe (Rwanda and Burundi), the kadongo(Uganda), the karimba (Zimbabwe), the likembe (Congo), the prempremsua (Ghana), the sanza (Congo) and many more.

Much love to you for joining me in Zimbabwe. Next week…SOUTH AFRICA.