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


Snuskverna etter Ola Øde

Our favorite move by far in the Norwegian Halling dance is the Snuskverna etter Ola Øde. Watch this video of a dancer from the FRIKAR ensemble doing the move. Wow. It’s obviously a breakin’ move from the 1980s in the Bronx. Except, remember, the Hallingdans is documented to be a northern European dance that’s 2,500 years old. The first breakdance? Double wow.

Hallingdans is 2,500 Years Young

The halling dance (Hallingsans) is the oldest documented dance in all of Northern Europe; there are pictures of halling dancers painted on caves that are potentially 2,500 years old. The halling dance is acrobatic, competitive and a wonder to see. Dancers leap, prance, spin on their heads and generally try the push the boundaries of what is physically possible and, simultaneously, graceful. Check out this video of Hallgrim Hansegård‘s performance of a halling dance — it’s extraordinary.



Mary Boine’s Jammin’ Joik

The Sami people are the indigenous inhabitants of Arctic lands in the far northernmost parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia’s Kola Peninsula. Today the Sami are known for their fishing, fur trapping and reindeer herding, and also for their tradition of sitting in saunas. (Sounds lovely.) Mari Boine, who you’ll see in this video, is Norway’s best known Sami vocalist. Her otherworldly “joik” vocals and her outspoken support of the Sami people have made her a formidable artistic and political presence in Scandinavia.

Start a Stev dance craze

Norway’s North Germanic folk music focuses on two kinds of songs — kvad (ballads) and stev, which are poetic songs, most of which are several centuries old. Some researchers have concluded that stev originally accompanied dances, though related dances are long lost. If that makes you sad,  don’t mope — start your own new tradition by dancing along to the stev performed by in this video by Sondre Bratland and Kirsten Bråten Berg.

Fanitullen on a Norwegian Fiddle

Norwegian folk music is closely intertwined with the folk music of Denmark — as closely as the history of Norway is intertwined with that of Denmark, which is quite intertwined. (You knew Denmark ruled Norway from 1380 until the early 1800s, didn’t you?) As in Denmark, the primary instrument in Norway’s folk music is the fiddle; in Norway, the most distinctive fiddle is the Hardanger. In this video we watch distinctive fiddler Haakon Solaas from western Norway playing the folk song “Fanitullen.”


Norway tops the charts

All Around This World map of Western Europe featuring Norway
This week in class we go north north north where we nest for a few days in Norway. There are a lot of intangible things that inspire us to go north to Norway, and over the course of the week we’re going to enjoy some of them — specifically Norwegian folk music and dance — but let’s start with statistics. We don’t usually quote from Wikipedia, but this paragraph, current at the time of this post, is hard to ignore: “Norway has had the highest Human Development Index ranking in the world since 2009. It also had the highest inequality-adjusted ranking until 2018 when Iceland moved to the top of the list. It is ranked first on the World Happiness Report for 2017 and ranks first on the OECD Better Life Index, the Index of Public Integrity, and the Democracy IndexNorway has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.” Yes? Ja! 




99 Luftbaloons

Neue Deutsche Welle (“New German Wave,” or “German New Wave”) started in the early ’80s as an underground movement of bands that developed a distinct sound by blending British punk and British New Wave with their German-language lyrics. When record companies caught onto Neue Deutsche Welle in the mid ’80s they sensed English-language versions might appeal to an international market, and they were right–performers like Nena — who we’ll see in this video performing their hit 99 Luftballoons, with lead singer Gabriele Susanne Kerner, also known as Nena, wearing an outfit that one could only get away with in 1983 — rocketed to the top of international pop charts. This unprecedented success inspired record companies to mine the Neue Deutsche Welle scene for potential pop stars, an act that quickly drained it of creative energy. By 1984 the New German Wave was no more.

(Bonus: Did you know the original German version of “99 Luftballons” is actually a protest song?)

Heino IS Schager

“Blau Bluht der Enzian” is a traditional German-language song about falling in love amidst the bluest of blue flowers along the road to Enzian, in Switzerland. The most popular version seems to be–and by all means, when you see this video, you’ll agree that it must be–by German “schlager” singer, Heino. “Schlager” is a folk-based, often sentimental style of pop music, most popular in Central and Northern Europe, especially Germany, that came into its own in the 1950s and ’60s as a reaction to American rock. In some quarters Schlager merged with disco in the late ‘70s, and has become popular again as a retro-pop style in dance clubs. If there’s any Schlager singer who deserves some retro popularity it’s Heino.

When I see you dancing I sing with Joy

the song we know as “Tra La La” is an example of a “ländler,” a 3 beat song that accompanies a “1-2-3” ländler dance, which became popular in the late 18th century in Germany, Austria, German Switzerland and Slovenia. Originally a raucous partner dance that featured stamping and yodeling, when it moved into German dance halls in the 19th century it became smoother and slightly more refined. Our version is neither raucous nor refined, but it sure can be fun.