Music for toddlers and parents?

AS my daughter reached 20 months, she gets actively interested not only in switching my McIntosh-amps, but in listening to music, too. As the mother does rarely allow my former Mahler to ZZ Top-regime - what decent music is there that small children like, but will not let me want to hang myself, too?
Florian Hassel
You should have had her on the Bach for Babies series. Too late now. Wiggles are better than most out there. Try a fantasia dvd for background music. The visuals may keep her interested.
The best thing you can do now is get her into Ballet and Tap classes. They will teach her to appreciate Classical and Jazz. My kids actually like it now.
My kids are in college now but one of the great joys of raising them was watching them respond to music -- not that I was trying to teach them anything -- they just liked what they heard.

Start by watching Disney's Fantasia on DVD.

Just sticking to classical, pick music that's dramatic, colorful, rhythmic--so much to choose--where to begin?

Tchaikovsky, Suites from Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Nutcracker

Prokofiev, Peter and the Wolf

Offenbach, Gaite parisienne (with "Can-Can" music)

Bach, Brandenburg Concertos

Saint-Saens, Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah

Dukas, Sorcerer's Apprentice

Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition

Chabrier, Joyeuse March, and Espana

Bizet, Jeux d'Enfants; Suite from Carmen; L'Arlessienne Suites

Ravel, Mother Goose

Dvorak, Slavonic Dances; Carnival Overture

Mozart, Piano Concerto # 21; Rondo Alla Turca

That's just scratching the surface.

When she's a little older, watch Ingmar Bergman's Magic Flute.

If you go to Amazon and search "Classical music for children" you'll find lots of anthologies.

The many and various "Adagio" and "Relax" classical anthologies make nice going-to-bed music.

And in a couple of years, she might like the story-music CDs in the "Classical Kids" series (e.g., Beethoven Lives Upstairs; Mr. Bach Comes to Call).

And why not play both Mahler and ZZ Top? If your child likes it--or doesn't--you'll know!
Check out Bruce Haack's work. I find it very interesting for children's music.

The Jack Johnson soundtrack from "Curious George" is good for both parent and child. I don't have the CD, but I did enjoy the movie with my young son. Here's one of the reviews off of Amazon:

I'm a 46 year old music junkie with a 2-year-old daughter. So when I find an album that passes muster as kiddie fare but I can groove to it as well, that's gold. And if that's your criterion, this is one of the records of the year.

Laid back Hawaiian surf bum Jack Johnson's easy breezy whimsy goes just right with the George oeuvre. Happy strumming, never in any hurry, and with cheery little stories and lessons embedded into the lyric, which you don't even have to pay attention to. Playful words, playful music. The kind of record I love, and that I want my little girl to love-- which she does.

If you're in the same boat as me-- looking for happening tunes for daddies and babies alike-- also check out Dan Zanes and Friends, Catch That Train!

According to that reviewer, the Dan Zane album might be a good one too. I've enjoyed Zane when I've seen him on PBS Kids...


My experience may seem heretical here. I played mostly oldies when my kids were growing up. Now they really like Sinatra, Elvis, the Fifties and the Eighties. They do listen to the latest and the "greatest" now and then but they have a healthy respect for the quality of past popular music. They did get some exposure to classical from movies and they did play in the school orchestra but nobody in either side of the family was interested in it. They also grew up witn Christian praise and worship music.
Play fun music so they can appreciate it in general.
One word of warning- the Night on Bald Mountain and Sorcerer's Apprentice segments on Fantasia scared the [email protected]@##$% out of my 3 y.o. 16 years later, he still won't watch Fantasia.
Good point, Swampwalker, about "Fantasia" -- I can't recall how old my (now college-age) daughters were when they first watched it -- in any case, they were old enough to watch it fearlessly and repeatedly with delight.

And a few more to add:

Grieg, Peer Gynt suite (esp "In the Hall of the Mountain King")

Rossini, various overtures

A lively CD anthology called "Baby Dance: Toddler's Jump on the Classics"
Sara Hickman has some nice CDs made for both kids and parents that I have listened to extensively with my kids and given as gifts over the years - check out her website.
They Might Be Giants has some cool kids stuff out too!
my 4 y.o. daughter and i enjoy raffi quite a bit. the material is generally well recorded and produced, the songs are just long (or short, depending on your perspective) enough, and (imho) singing silly songs together is a great bonding experience. classic stuff.

i was also pleasantly surprised to find that a few of the discs we have from the late 70s were recorded by none other that daniel lanois (with him noted to be playing pedal steel guitar on one entitled "more singable songs").
I'll second Sara Hickman, but also check out Trout Fishing in America. great music great writing. Start with the kids stuff and work your way up.

Rockaway Baby! has lullabies of major artists, NIN to Tool to the Stones. I am very fond of the Radiohead disc.
When my son was about 16 months old, I played Beethoven's 5th paino concerto for him, he loved it, loud.

What's wrong with Mahler and ZZ Top? I guess it depends, are you trying to "raise" kids or "lower" parents? Just a thought...........

Never did understand parents who give up the New York Times for Barney DVD's .........
My wife and I found these kids cds enjoyable for us as well:

Chic Street Man -- Lullablues
Lionel Jean Baptiste -- Ice Cream Songs
Joe Reilly -- Children of the Earth
Los Lobos with Lalo Guerrero -- Papa's Dream

Sweet Honey in the Rock has some great songs I used when I taught Kindergarten.

The dvd and album "Free to Be You and Me" by Marlo Thomas is also great with positive messages.

Lastly, a friend who's a Maurice Sendak fan (author/illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are) has his animated vhs "Really Rosie" with music by Carole King. I believe they just released the music on cd.

But some of the best music is anything that moves your toddler to ask you to dance around the living room with her.
A favorite thing for me and my now 2.5 yr. old son is to march around the coffee table in the upstairs living room listening to Donald Fagin's Morph the cat while we take turns banging on a drum... I used to be real careful and when he was a baby played only MozartBeetovanBrahmsShubertRavelDebussyETC but now anything goes. Even when I'm downstairs and have something cranked up really loud he'll come from his room in the other end of the house and cry to come in to see what daddy's doing/listening to. The volume doesn't seem to bother him at all... when I was a kid loud volume used to SCARE me...
Dan Zanes, Peter Himmelman
Kids love what parents love, as toddlers. You need to "own" the stereo and play what you like. Occasionally it can be toddler-time and you can put on Raffi and kid oriented CDs and LPs, but don't expect to like it.

You need to deal with the mother not the kids. Kids can deal with almost anything. I play trumpet and there was initial worries about my ability to practice. Well, the kids fell asleep during trumpet practice. Three daughters and two grand-daughters later I'm still playing trumpet and they still fall asleep occasionally in the middle of it all. Don't change your routine.

Get the kids some music they'll like, but don't expect to like it also. They will like yours. I still cherish the memory of my daughters getting up early and sitting beside me while I listened to Biber, Gabrielli, Bach, Finzi, James Taylor, Lauri Anderson, etc. and had my morning coffee. They say they remember those times also.

Call me, Experienced.
Dave Van Ronk's folk version of Peter and the Wolf is a hoot. The cd has a few other funny songs that my kids (and me, the big kid) enjoyed greatly.
when mine were tykes, i was into a heavy coltrane phase (the Impluse years); but there was an wide mix from Tull to Piazola. After all that, the one thing I think they learned was that appeals to most (the mainstream) satisfies the fewest..
Hazel, my 2 year old, loves the Duke Ellington standards. When she wants to hear them, I'm told;

"Jazz Music, Daddy!"

Can't beat that.

My son loves Tchaikovsky's music. He first heard it when he was about two.
I would recommend The Nutcracker or Swan Lake. Accompany it with a fairy tale initially while the music is playing. Kids have great imagination and they enjoy a good story with good music.

I agree with Destep. Expose her to a wide variety, classical, jazz, rock, world, etc. But, you're asking for Children's music. Look for Hap Palmer. The best children's music I've heard—creative, educational, interesting, fun, interactive, and just as important, well performed by excellent musicians. (Too much children's music is second rate junk.) If you don't have as much fun with his stuff as your kid(s), then you've lost your inner child.
They Might Be Giants? Sorry I haven't read the whole thread yet in case someone has already mentioned them. They have even released stuff geared straight towards kids.
Wide variety, of course. There's often classical on. But in addition, our little fellow loved (and we do too) Garcia and Grisman, "Not for Kids Only", Doc Watson "Songs for Litte Pickers, TMBG (mentioned in the last thread", the soundtrack to "Oh Brother, Where art Though?", "Yellow Submarine", and a Burl Ives kids collection, the name of which escapes me. Oh, also, he enjoyed "Hungry Freaks Daddy" and "Joe's garage" -- FZ.
Hi all,
thanks to all these recommendations, which will me make trying for weeks now. Actually, I was half joking about Mahler and ZZ Top. Mahler is, I think, indeed a bit heavvy, but my daughter loves ZZ Top - but my wife does not. We just started to listen to some Dan Zanes CDs- great music, I am amazed he is not more famous like Manu Chao. My taste is widespread already, so the child listens to Mozart, Neill Young, AC/DC, a lot of Beethoven, and jazz from Duke Ellington to Bud Powell. Still, most of the names all of you mentioned were new for me. Thanks a lot. the 'gon is indeed an amazing community.
Florian Hassel
Kenny Loggins Songs From The Wood was a huge favorite of my girls as toddlers. Then we hit them very young with Elton John, The Boss, Beatles, JT, Eagles, Croce, Bread, America and anything heavy on melody or a repeating chorus. do do do, and you don' mess aroun' with Jim" de de de...

Now, at 8 and 11 they are musicologists of a sort and favor Greg Brown Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Mozart, Brahms and other more accessible classical. Kids pick up on music like riding a bike. Now, music is a focus, TV an afterthought and they are taking piano and Violin lessons. There is to substitute for an early start with music. I had the headphones on either side of my pregnant wife's growing stomach an hour or two a night several times a week from 6-9 months. Crazy? Maybe ;-)
Samuel -
Ahh, don't you mean Jethro Tull "Songs From the Wood"
I CANNOT picture Kenny Loggins performing that album! Ha!
I think he means some of the Loggins Winnie The Pooh stuff.
Laurie Berkner

Although, my 5 year old is really into Ryan Adams as well. About a year or so ago, I was out driving with him and I popped in Ryan Adam's "Gold". I can hear him singing along to "New York, New York". I didn't even know he knew the song, nevertheless the words. It's amazing what kids pick up (and then what they don't).

But that shouldn’t really surprise me. I can't tell you a damn thing about Maxwell's equations (even though I took 4 or 5 classes about them during undergrad) but I can still rock every lyric off of Run-DMC's self-titled release.

“Two years ago, a friend of mine,
Asked me to say some MC rhymes…”
Mozart! I have read somewhere, that especially the piano sonatas of Mozart are very good for babies due its harmonics.
"They Might Be Giants" has long been my son's favorite band - I loved them since I was in college - now they are making kids music discs in addition to "regular" stuff. Even before they were doing kids records they were doing quirky, funny "pseudo-educational" songs about things like palindromes, mammals, solar fusion, presidents, you name it...

Now that he's almost 8 he just wants to hear Van Halen and AC/DC... oh well...