Worlds of Fun: Guitarist uses his world travels to create dynamic, inclusive music program for kids and their families

Move aside, “Itsy Bitsy Spider." Guitarist and children’s music teacher Jay Sand is kicking it up a notch. The founder of All Around This World, an interactive global music program for children up to 9-year-olds and their families, teaches Tinikling dancing (from the Philippines) and the Schuhplattler, a traditional Bavarian folk dance, among many other international musical favorites.

“Each week in class, we do some kind of dance or celebrate some kind of holiday to learn more about that week’s featured country,” Sand says, adding that no one is expected to do any of it perfectly—it's just fun learning. “We’ve done Bollywood dancing, Brazilian capoeira, the Ugandan Amagunjju [and] the Chilean Cueca,” he adds. His desire to explore cultural music comes from his love for traveling the world (he’s visited many parts of Europe, Asia and Africa) and melding that into a program of global melodies, rhythms and movement.

Sand says that his brand of learning aims to get parents as involved as the kids, so that everyone is participating. “Adults aren’t always honored in the children’s realm. Tumbling is not nearly as fun for us as it is for them,” he says, laughing. 

The West Philadelphia resident didn’t initially set out to create a music program. When his first daughter was born, he would take her to a music class in the suburbs. Sand, a guitar player, began teaching a class there, but wanted to bring that musical fun to his West Philadelphia neighborhood. “It made sense to just teach in my neighborhood,” he says. 

In addition to teaching classes, putting out webcasts and working on a pilot program to bring the All Around This World curriculum to kindergarten or elementary classrooms, Sand performs around the U.S., including at the Go West! Craft Fest. He and his family enjoy the interaction the day brings: “Everyone wins—it’s that kind of a day.”

To learn more about All Around This World, visit allaroundthisworld.com.