Using music to keep the children calm

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Chopin, music, calm, children calm, relaxation
Chopin – a good choice for calming excitable children.

Despite my best efforts, mornings can be manic in my household as I battle to keep the children calm while getting them ready. Life was more relaxed Before Helen, our eldest, started in reception class. Now she has to be dropped off at a regimented time, the pressure is on.

Over the past few months we’ve all adjusted to this change. Like any household with young children, however, the mornings are exceptionally busy.


A few weeks ago I was started watching a BBC3 television documentary called Tough Young Teachers. As the name suggests, it follows a group of young teachers working in harsh, inner-city schools.

One of the programme’s participants, Oliver Beach, plays classical music at the start of every lesson. The aim is to calm his excitable pupils down before he starts teaching.

Reading this was like a Eureka moment. I wondered what impact it would have on my kids’ behaviour if I played them music at breakfast time. Would it make the morning rush less manic?

Experimenting with music

I’m several weeks into this experiment and I’m telling you there is no going back.  The impact has been phenomenal. It’s been so effective that it’s become part of the daily routine.

You’re probably wondering what music I play. Following in Beach’s footsteps, I started by experimenting with classical music. I’m more likely to listen to Motorhead than Mozart so I was a bit out of my depth. Despite my philistine tendencies, I have discovered that almost anything by Chopin works very well, although it’s best to avoid his Noctures as they tend to gee the kids up.

All that jazz

Knowing more about jazz than classical music, I tried a few artists from this genre. In my experience so far, the absolute gold standard is

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, calm children, children calm, relaxation,
Miles Davis Kind of Blue. Ideal for calming children down, though I’m not sure Davis would have approved of his music being used this way.

the classic Miles Davis’ classic 1959 album Kind of Blue. For whatever reason, this just keeps the children calm.

I have experimented with a few Spoitfy playlists that declare themselves to be calming. Soft guitar-based music works very well. The thing

I’ve learned to avoid is trance or any form of electronic music. No matter how slow and down beat it is, it just winds the children up.

That’s my approach, but how do you keep your children calm in the mornings? Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Or do you think I’m completely bonkers?




11 thoughts on “Using music to keep the children calm”

  1. Not bonkers at all. We found the same recently with our daughter. Whilst at my brothers house, where he played a lot of classical and calm music, we realised she was acting very calm, more so than usual. Definitely something in it.

  2. I saw the advert for the documentary but didn’t catch it. It must be tough being a young teacher in those schools. I used classical music while pregnant hoping my baby would be born calm, lol. No such luck. After he was born and is very active and high strung,as he became mobile I used Chinese bamboo music and sounds of nature to during craft sessions and before bed. In the mornings he was and still is pretty calm tending to want cuddles then. I’m a SAHM so I oblige. Funny thing is once he could talk he told me the bamboo music was sad :0) So i stopped that. These days I use music in the opposite reason. I put in Kiss FM or some such and dance around with both kids as my girl can now walk, with a hope to wear them out. Fingers crossed we can all have a nap after lunch. Good luck with your experiment. I hope it continues to go well.

    1. Do you know I haven’t actually used music to get the kids active. This is clearly the next step in my experiment! Kiss FM you say? I shall try it and let you know how I get on. Thanks for commenting.

  3. What a great idea! And a good reminder for me… Mushroom is usually pretty calm in the mornings as long as he gets his porridge and we’re never late for nursery as I need to get to work and it’s been part of his routine since he was one. Bedtime, however, is a different story. I do try to have quiet time upstairs before bed and used to play soothing music (just a relaxation CD or pan pipes) until one day he said it was ‘too noisy’ so now we have silence or sometimes I sing after his story. Having read your post though, I might try a little Miles after dinner before we even head upstairs and see if that makes a difference. So no, you’re not bonkers at all.

  4. You mean jazz and classical music are the way to go? I thought rap and hardcore metal would do the trick…. guess that’s why they’ve been drawing all over the dog and throwing things at the walls :/……….

  5. good post – I shall take a leaf out of your book and put some music on in the morning. Beats arguing politicians on the radio any day.

  6. Pingback: Music for children; just what is appropriate? | Dad Blog UKMusic for children; just what is appropriate? - Dad Blog UK

  7. Hi John,

    Excellent choice – you have chosen what is arguably the greatest album ever recorded. My daughters have been exposed to “Kind of Blue” since they were very young as well – they still enjoy it now that they are 11yo and 14yo, mainly because of its soothing effect.

    I have recently shared with them some of the more calming tracks from the Miles Davis album of the soundtrack to the movie “Dingo”.

    Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of the Moon” also has some excellent songs that may help chill everyone out during breakfast, given that you are obviously a man of excellent musical taste. Then, when you are ready to leave, you can crank up the song “Money” and get everyone marching out the door with fun and enthusiasm.

    My daughters listen to calming music or “new age music” when they feel the need to relax, sometimes after school, after physical activity, if they are sick, sometimes before bed, sometimes as they go to sleep.

    As you have discovered, it is quite incredible the effect of different styles or genres of music can have on the human mind and body – old or young.


    1. Thank you Matthew for your superb response! I have never been told I am a man “of excellent musical taste”! You have made my day, week in fact. PLease do visit the blog again.

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