All Around This World’s Tour Photos ARE IN

All Around This World in Schrobenhausen Germany 2019All Around This World on tour at SIVO in the Netherlands, 2019All Around This World summer tour 2019 in Tulln AustriaAll Around This World on summer tour 2019All Around This World on summer tour 2019, on Rugen Island in Germany

We’re back! If you are following All Around This World on Instagram (@allaroundthisworld) or Facebook ( you know that my family and I were on a musical mission this summer, traveling to many countries in Europe over the course of about two months, both to give our kids the chance to meet a different part of the world and to foster international harmony by singing international songs. Over the course of the All Around This World/Sand Family summer tour 2019 we performed in a wide variety of venues, from an afterschool program in Bavaria to a delightful variety show at a town fair in northwestern Italy, from a bistro at the mouth of a cave near Trieste to a pedestrian street in a lovely town along Austria’s Danube, from a number of backyard and farmyard parties (with special thanks to Hamburg and BlissBeach) to the family activity area of the SIVO Cultural Dance and Music Festival in a “museum village” in the Netherlands. Most fascinating, and particularly eye-opening for the kids, were the concerts we played at facilities for families of refugees and asylum seekers in several countries like Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. At those shows we met families in almost every stage of the asylum/migration process and learned so much about the different ways European countries are relating to immigration — as one would imagine, vastly different from the U.S.

While we were abroad I took a few photos — um, about 10,000. There are a few ways to see the best: The 2019 summer tour page on the All Around This World website takes you through the tour and includes embedded videos of us performing. And here’s a Google photos slide show that has all of those pictures and more.

While the tour took a lot of energy and we are all very happy to be home, the adventure was also invigorating. We were all so inspired by the intensity of kindness extended to us time and again by so many people in so many places. Reminded us that there is still much good in the world. Professionally, the experiences I had singing with kids who spoke any number of languages and were engaged in any number of stages of the ground-shifting process of migrating from one part of the globe to another reinforced my belief that music beats the heck out of Esperanto as the universal language. While I’m humbled by the depth, breadth and essential effect of the work so many people we met in Europe are doing to better the world, I return with even more confidence in my mission to spread international understanding through shared joy as I do, and a renewed commitment to do more.

With joy,


New Zealand’s Sign of the Times

New Zealand has two main languages you may expect–English, the colonial language, and Maori, the local Polynesian language–and one you probably wouldn’t; in 2006 New Zealand became the first country in the world to make a sign language one of its official languages. New Zealand Sign Language is now officially legal for use in the court system and to gain access to government services.

Less than one percent of people in New Zealand communicate using New Zealand Sign Language, but its official recognition gives it credence as a legitimate means of communication. Watch this video of a sign language interpretation of New Zealand’s national anthem — especially the guy who starts at about a minute in — and I guarantee you’ll want to learn how to sign too.

Poi E

In 1983 a duo in New Zealand composed of linguist Ngoi Pewhairangi and musician Dalvanius Prime wrote “Poi E” as a way to inspire cultural pride among Māori youth. Prime couldn’t find a record label to release the song so he formed his own label and worked with the Māori performing group, the Patea Maori Club to sing it. In 1984 a TV news story about the song introduced the population to it and it became an instant hit among Māori and non-Māori alike. It even became popular in the UK, where the Patea Maori Club toured to share the vibrant Māori culture.

Not only does “Poi E” reference the Māori tradition of dancing with poi, which are weights on tethers that dancers swing along to the rhythm, the “Poi E” video also introduced a  nation of youth from New Zealand a the burgeoning American art — hip hop!


These Strong Ocean Waves Can’t Keep Us Apart

Yesterday we met “Pokarekare Ana,” an adored Māori song about love enduring across a threatening sea. When we sing the song we sway like the ocean waves. Sing along!

“Pōkarekare ana, ngā wai o Waiapu, I cry and cry because I miss you.

E hine e, you have my heart, these strong ocean waves can’t keep us apart.”

New Zealand’s Favorite Love Song

“Pokarekare Ana” may be New Zealand’s best-known song, and it’s certainly one of the nation’s most beloved. The song originated some time around World War I, perhaps as early as 1912, though its specific authorship is in dispute. Many ascribe it to Māori soldiers who were training for battle, though notable Māori lyricist and political leader Paraire Tomoana also claimed ownerhip. The page about “Pokarekare Ana” provides extensive background about the song, and delves into the question of the song’s origin — did soldiers write it and Tomoana codify it into an “action song” for his performing group in 1917? Did the song develop instead from lyrics that Tomoana himself wrote in 1912, a Māori love song as part of his courtship of Kuini Raerena? Whatever the song’s origin, its lyrics tell the tale of two people in love, separated by water — in our version, “strong ocean waves” — that will never be strong enough to keep the two apart.

Only Māori Priests Played Instruments

Before Europeans landed in Aotearoa, much Māori vocal music was similar to that found elsewhere in Polynesia–energized chanting, often done without instrumental accompaniment and with the vocalists singing either solo or in unison. Before Western colonial contact, Māori priests were exclusively allowed to play instruments in public because of musical instruments’ power as a form of communication between humans and gods. (Non-priests played instruments, but in private or even in secret.) There were several kinds of flutes such as the bird-bone Kōauau and the flute/horn Pūtōrino, conch shell trumpets like the Putatara and spinning instruments like the whirling, whirring Purerehua. When Missionaries arrived they brought church-based harmonies and Western instruments; as a result, most Māori instruments were “lost” and have only a experienced a revival since the 1980s.


Best Haka? The Black Ferns

We start our week of musical and cultural explorations in New Zealand in the most exciting place. While “haka” is a general term for Māori dances, today’s most identifiable haka is a ferocious chant in which dancers pound on their bodies, using themselves as percussion, building confidence and cameraderie before going into battle.  The best-known haka is “Ka Mate.” Composed in 1820 by a chief named Te Rauparaha, “Ka Mate” is a rousing chant adopted by New Zealand’s deeply beloved national rugby team, the All Blacks. Watch the All Blacks haka. Amazing.  Of course the All Blacks don’t have exclusive claim on awesome hakas. Watch the extraordinary haka in this video, performed by New Zealand’s women’s rugby team, the Black Ferns.


All the Way to Aotearoa

All Around This World -- New Zealand
This week our online class takes us to one of the earth’s most magical places — New Zealand!

The island nation we now know as New Zealand (known to the Maori as “Aotearoa”) was among the last large land masses in the world to be inhabited by humans. Polynesian first settled New Zealand in the late 13th century and within a couple centuries had developed a distinct “Maori” culture.

Today New Zealand is a modern nation that’s as closely connected to the West as it is rooted in Polynesian history and culture. While the relationship between European-descended New Zealanders and ethnic Maori is very complicated, and the nation’s volcanic foundation always presents the possibility of unexpected disruption, New Zealanders’ apparent combination of rugged individualism and relaxed humility (i.e. Edumnd Hillary, first Westerner to climb Mt. Everest, personified “the brave, self-deprecating New Zealander”) has so far enabled “Kiwis” to both engage the global economy and remain proud of their own complex culture.

All Hail Hawaiian Haupia

We end our week of Hawaiian music and culture with something sweet. Haupia is a traditional coconut milk-based Hawaiian dessert. You are likely to find haupia as at a luau or other Hawaiian community party. It is especially popular as a topping for cakes at Hawaiian weddings. In this video our friend Jesse how to do haupia right. Enjoy!


Hi’ilawe Plays for Change

Beloved Hawaiian slack-key guitar master Gabby Pahinui began his work life as a road crew laborer but eventually caught the ear of the local record industry. He was the first slack-key guitarist to record a hit, “Hi’ilawe”–possibly the first slack-key guitarist to record at all–and in the ’40s and ’50s pioneered slack-key guitar playing to a point it which it came to channel the very soul of  the islands. In the 1970s Pahinui and slack-key guitar played an important role in the “Hawaiian Renaissance,” boldly supporting the performance of Hawaiian music as a way inspire Hawaiians to empower themselves culturally and politically. Pahinui isn’t performing this video, but we do get a chance to hear “Hi’ilawe” as performed by some talented street musicians on behalf of Playing for Change, which describes itself as “a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music, born from the shared belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people.” Right on!