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


Paint Bellamina Black

“Bellamina” is a song about the Bahamanian crews of rum running ships trying to avoid the U.S. Coast Guard. In the case of the Bellamina they paint the white boat black so it will be less easily detected at night. Author Zora Neale Hurston heard “Belllamina” when she first arrived in the Bahamas, incorporated it into one of her plays and even made a recording of the song in the ’30s. “Bellamina, Bellamina, Bellamina’s in the harbor, Bellamina, Bellamina, Bellamina’s in the harbor, Put Bellamina on de dock and paint Bellamina black black black, put Bellamina on de dock and paint Bellamina black.” In our version we don’t worry about being sneaky. We take scarves, put them on our kids’ heads and “paint” them many colors.

“Speak Like We!”

People in the Bahamas speak a dialect of English that playfully blends British, African and Taino words. For example, in Bahamian English, instead of saying “The children are watching the fish,” you would say “Duh chirren dem is vatchin’ duh fishes.” (Want examples? Visit BahamasGuru.com and “Speak Like We!“) Bahamian English is different than Bahamian Creole, which is a creole based on English.

Goombay Fete #1

Goombay is a Bahamian folk music similar to Calypso in Trinidad or Mento in Jamaica, in which musicians sing about daily life using clever, melodic songs. A traditional goombay drum has a goatskin head. Drummers hold the drum between the legs and hit it with their hands. Using just one drum, the most adept goombay drummers can make an impressive array of sounds, creating tones that defy transcription using standard musical notation. This video is a beautiful blast by a goombay-inspired band rather than a performance by one goombay virtuoso — hence the video’s title, “Goombay Fete #1.”


Take a Saw, then “Rake ‘n’ Scrape”

In the Bahamas you don’t need traditional instruments to make music. Look in the toolshed and go forth! You may well find yourself making “rake ‘n’ scrape” music, in which musicians accompany European-style dances like the Bahamian quadrille and the polka by hitting a goombay drum, bending a saw and scraping it with a small tool such as a screwdriver.

The Sun Shines Brighter in the Bahamas

All Around This World -- The Caribbean featuring the Bahamas

This week in our online class we’re not only lucky enough to be going to the beautiful Bahamas, but we have the honor of marching into the street, drums in hand, to celebrate freedom. Whatever smile is on your face right now, it could be bigger in the Bahamas. Whatever your money is doing in your relatively traceable domestic bank account, it could probably be frolicking much more freely, and more privately, in the Bahamas. So let’s go there.

Raphael Cortijo helped start Salsa

We end our week of music from Puerto Rico with a brief 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 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.

The master of Timbales

Timbales — as we see come in this video of the master of timables Tito Puente — are sets of two shallow, high-pitched drums, to which a percussionist often attaches other instruments like cymbals, cowbells and claves. Timbales appear in Latin musical genres from salsa to mambo to reggaeton. Sometimes a percussionist hits the top of the timbales, other time s/he keeps time hitting the sides. Tito Puente can hit the timbales anywhere he wants and they’ll sound terrific.

We love to dance the Plena

The plena of Puerto Rico, also nicknamed “el periodico cantado (“the sung newspaper”), formed as a distinct musical genre in the late 1800s when sugar cane plantation laborers, manual workers and former slaves moved to Puerto Rico’s urban areas and communicated the news of the day to each other through music and dance. A plena ensemble consists of a variety of percussion instruments such as guiros, congas, timbales, maracas and panderos (small tamborines), as well as a 4-stringed Puerto Rican guitar known as a cuatro. The plena has no fixed rhythmic form, but, unlike bomba which is primarily African, weaves in a multitude of rhythms from Puerto Rico’s Spanish, African and Taino cultures. Enjoy the plena by grooving along with these gentlemen, who are clearly having an extraordinary time.

“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.

Rule, Rule, Rule Sonda

“Rule Sonda,” is a Puerto Rican bomba — music in which drumming and dancing are very closely connected, and in which the dancers generally usually lead the drummers rather than the other way around. Puerto Rican communities with strong ties to Africa developed both bomba,  with its energizing drumming and dancing call and response, and plena, which features vocalists who sing satirical songs about current events of the day. Bomba was born first, in the 17th and 18th centuries, giving enslaved Africans a medium to express both their struggles and triumphs through song. Plena arose in the early 20th century as “the newspaper of the people,” using musical narrative to give people a voice.