8 Pieces of Comforting Music for Children (and Grown-Ups too!)

Children can be equally as affected as adults by the stressors in their environments, even if they are not always able to communicate it to the grownups in their lives. The following music can help your children (and you as well) maintain, or regain, a sense of tranquility and calm during difficult times. Play these pieces at the end of a stressful day or at the beginning of your child’s nap or bedtime routine, and your whole family may soon feel calmer and more relaxed. Check out the Spotify playlist or, for more information, read through and watch the videos below. For more playlists, check out our online library of playlists here.

1) Listening to music is not only an enjoyable activity, it can literally slow your brain waves down to a more relaxed state. Listening to music that has approximately 60 beats per minute (bpm) can “cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing alpha brainwaves,” the brainwaves we have when relaxed. Researchers at Stanford University found that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.” With that in mind, the first musical step to melting away both your and your child’s stress is to listen to music with a tempo of 60 beats per minute. Here is a wonderful, relaxing song that is 60 bpm.

2) Now, get ready to listen to a song that was specifically composed in collaboration with sound therapists to reduce anxiety, cortisol levels, and the blood pressure of listeners. After hearing Weightless, study participants indicated a 65% reduction in overall anxiety! In addition to this piece, check out some other music included on this playlist to bust stress.

3) There are even more ways that music can work collaboratively with the systems in your body to reduce stress and incite calm. A research study showed, “slow music with a 10-second repetitive cycle has a noticeable calming effect on listeners because it matches the body’s natural 10-second waves of blood-pressure control.” Verdi’s music was found to be particularly calming as it often contains the 10-second repetitive cycle. We suggest starting with Verdi’s Recordare Aria.

4) Saint-Saëns wrote a suite of pieces portraying several different animals like elephants, kangaroos, and lions. The Swan movement usually features the cello and piano, but this version features the heartfelt sounds of a viola. It is slow and melodic. The phrases are long and smooth like a swan’s elongated, graceful neck and the melody floats along softly just as the swan floats along the surface of the water.

5) Because the brain likes predictability, repetitive sounds can often calm one’s stress and anxiety. Philip Glass is known for repetition and minimalism in his music and is regularly featured in playlists of calming music. Metamorphosis Two is a beautiful repetitive piece for piano. Check out this ‘Calming’ Spotify playlist and the entire ‘Solo Piano’ album by Philip Glass featuring the four other Metamorphosis pieces.

6) Mahler’s 5th Symphony is a unique symphony that actually contains 5 movements, instead of the usual 4 movements. The 4th movement of this symphony, The Adagietto, is said to have been composed by Mahler as a love song to his wife. It uses only the string family instruments which allows swelling phrases to grow in volume while maintaining their warmth and serenity. With this piece, we suggest having a fully immersive experience – have your little ones lay down and take calming body breaths while listening to the music swirl around them. And we suggest you join them as well!

7) People naturally find things that are familiar to be comforting. Bach’s Air on the G String is both well-known and gentle on the ears. Its steady rhythm combined with it’s smooth, even melody makes it the perfect piece of music for regaining balance and tranquility.

8) Perhaps the most calming thing about Satie’s Trois Gymnopédies is not the music itself, but the empty space between the notes. The music sounds like it is taking deep breaths while the notes coming from the piano feel open and airy. It is the perfect piece of music to play at the beginning of your little one’s nap or bedtime.

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