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


You can’t get enough of Nha Nhac

Which form of imperial Vietnamese court music is your favorite? If I had to bet on it, I’d put my money on Nhã nhạc. The term “Nhã nhạc” refers to music performed from the days of the Trần dynasty to the last Nguyễn dynasty of Vietnam. Vietnamese music particularly thrived in the 19th century when music in the imperial court also featured royal dances, many of which had the goal of encouraging the king’s long life and supporting the country’s wealth. Feel free to dance royally while you’re enjoying this video’s performance of Nhã nhạc.

We Visit Vietnam

All Around This World maps of Southeast Asia featuring Vietnam

This week in our online class we visit Vietnam — and all two thousand miles of its coastline. Since the formation of the first Vietnamese state over two millennia ago Vietnam has fought for the right to determine its own fate. Since way back in 111 B.C.,Vietnam has been under the rule of the Chinese, the French, the Japanese and, for all intents and purposes, the United States. The Vietnamese know that every time a power invaded, no matter how long they stuck around (the Chinese ruled for a thousand years), Vietnamese independence movements successfully sent them packing. Today Vietnam is officially Communist but is economically a free-market state. The economy has boomed, surviving setbacks such as the 1997 Asian economic crisis and the 2008 global recession. The Vietnamese government has a spotty human rights record and maintains control over most media and social policy, but it has also normalized diplomatic and trade relations with most nations, including the U.S., enabling today’s Vietnamese to become an increasingly globally-connected lot. This week we’ll enjoy Vietnamese music and culture, both homegrown and intertwined with the world.

Everyone Sings Arirang

“Arirang” is, in essence, because of its ubiquity on the Korean peninsula, “the Korean national anthem.” There are literally thousands of different versions of the song and everyone–everyone!–sings it, both on festive and somber occasions. “Arirang, arirang, arariyo, Arirang, crossing over the hill, My dear who has abandoned and left me, Has not even traveled ten miles before having feet pains” The song is of mysterious origin, age and literal meaning. Is the song two hundred years old? Two thousand? Whatever the song’s story, Koreans protesting the 1910-1945 Japanese occupations claimed it as a resistance anthem, and since then the song has become synonymous with the pride of Koreans in surviving despite struggles. And who can Koreans be more proud of than their K-Pop superheros, BTS? Watch their sleek performance of Arirang in this video.

Seo Taiji and the Boys Really Do Know

After the dictatorship of Park Chung-hee ended in 1979, Korean musicians embraced all kinds of traditional and modern music, socially important or otherwise, taking pride in their folk instruments and ancient genres while infusing them with a modern energy and musical sensibility. This openness enabled Korean musicians to actively embrace all sorts of international music, especially Western pop. Since the ’90s Korean popular music (K-Pop) has become a pan-Asian phenomenon, joining Korean fashion, movies, television and other media in what Koreans proudly call a “Hallyu” — a massive wave of Asian infatuation with Korean culture. In this video we enjoy the classic K-pop dance hit, Sao Taji and the Boys’ “I Know.”

Under the Chuseok Moon

Chuseok is the Korean holiday of thanksgiving. The festival takes place around the 15th day of the 8th month of the Korean lunar calendar, which is some time around the start of autumn. While modern Koreans first and foremost view Chuseok as a moment to focus on their families, traditionally Koreans have also played folk games throughout Chuseok, like tug-of-war or ssireum wrestling. Korean women along the southwest coast also perform the ancient Ganggangsullae dance forming a circle under a full moon and dancing for hours, long into the night, replying a liberating “Ganggangsullae!” as the song leader sings about both the struggles and joys of life. In class we enjoy this Korean womens’ dance by pretending to be turtles and mice.

Oh oh oh oh oh Potatoes

Since the split in 1951, North Korean music has taken a markedly different path from that of its neighbor to the south. In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, all music must serve the state. The state controls all media, so only it can approve music for public distribution. In 1990 Kim Jong-Il declared that all North Korean music must encourage people to respect the country and its political system. The song in this video, “Potato Pride,” a North Korean propaganda song that celebrates about the rationing of food in North Korea’s rural villages, twistedly tries to do just that.

Goori goori goori goori gawee bawee bo!

“Achim Baram” (“Cold Morning Wind”) is a Korean children’s song whose lyrics are less important than what kids do with them. The hand motions that accompany this Korean kids’ song are essentially rock/paper/scissors — when we reach “Goori goori goori goori gawee bawee bo!” (“scissors, a rock, a hand”) we show one of the three. Kids really play this Korean rock paper scissors game, and apparently become quite competitive. Do we?

Let’s Trot Over to South Korea

After the Korean War, tens of thousands of U.S. and Allied troops remained on South Korean soil. Western soldiers shared the styles that were popular at home with South Korean musicians, teaching them big band jazz, Western rock and eventually international pop music. South Korean musicians fused Western and even Japanese styles with their own, creating new musical blends such as “teuroteu,” or “trot,” which finds its origin in Japanese enka, with a touch of Western foxtrot thrown in for good measure. South Korean Trot music disappeared as an active genre for decades but has undergone a revival.

Bang a Gong with Korean Farmers

Korean musicologists generally acknowledge four types of traditional Korean music — courtly, aristocratic, scholarly, and religious —  and three kinds of Korean court music — aak (Chinese/Confucian ritual music), hyangak (purely Korean), and tangak (a combination of Chinese and Korean court music). There are also many  folk styles, such as:

— sanjo: a completely instrumental music, performed with shifting rhythms and melodies on instruments such as the gayageum.
— pansori: a theatrical form of music performed by one singer and one drummer. The singer tells one of five different stories but individualizes the telling with jokes and social commentar,y, and
— nongak (“farmers’ dance”): a public form of percussion performed by twenty to thirty performers, most often in a rural setting.

Inspired by this video, grab a gong and join the farmers in their Nongak.

One Korea Two Koreas

All Around This World map of east and southeast Asia featuring souch Korea

This week in our online class we strive to understand two complicated Koreas. North Korea is the world’s most militantly isolated nation. From the inflated cult of personality surrounding its self-procluamed “Supreme Leader” to its government’s policy of imprisoning anyone, even foreign journalists, who dare question the omnipotence of its regime, North Korea is about as off-putting as any country could be. On the other hand, South Korea is one of the most wired, open and accessible nations in the world. In the years since splitting with the north it has raced to embrace all things that could connect it to global society, like cell phones, the internet, and shamelessly over-produced pop music. The sad fact is that for more than three thousand years, and until just about sixty years ago, these two divergent nations were one. Then came a brutal Japanese colonization culminating in a World War and a wholly unwelcome starring role in the military and ideological struggle between the Soviets, the Chinese and the United States. Since a vicious armed conflict in the early ’50s — Americans know it as The Korean War while Koreans refer to as their civil war — North has split from South with such vigor that there is literally a line between the countries that no one from either is allowed to cross. The chasm between the countries continues to widen; the civil war’s wounds are still raw.