We’ve compiled a great list of classical music for kids to engage and inspire little minds.
Here at Jooki, we’re big fans of encouraging a love of music in children. Offering our kids variety helps them find music they love and appreciate, and it encourages the enjoyment of different genres of music. This is something that can only have a positive impact on their lives, whatever kinds of music they end up favoring.
When it comes to classical music for kids, there are a range of benefits to introducing it to young ears. Classical music can help calm and soothe children, and relaxing is important whatever our age. In today’s busy world, with school, screen-time, and extracurricular activities, taking time out to relax and feel calm is crucial for kids — and listening to classical music enables that to happen instantaneously.
We think one of the most important benefits of classical music for kids is that it can inspire creativity. Because listening to it can relax and re-energize young minds, this makes space for creative and imaginative play and learning. And all of this from an easy-to-access Spotify playlist!
1. Bach | Air on G String
This tune is powerful, striking, and wholly unforgettable — whether hearing it for the first time as a child or for the 100th time as an adult. As a piece of classical music, it will be familiar to many people. Even if you didn’t know the name, you will likely have heard and enjoyed it in the past.
Composed in the first half of the 18th century, this timeless melody was created for three trumpets, two oboes, two violins, a viola, and a basso continuo. It’s also known by the name “Celebrated Air” and “Air for G String.” As well as Bach’s original, there is also an arrangement by violinist Wilhelmj, composed in 1871, that is also loved and revered globally.
2. Debussy | Clair de Lune
This gentle solo piano melody is smooth and soothing to the ears, instantly relaxing the senses. Its name was inspired by the Clair de Lune poem by Paul Verlaine, a French poet. Claude Debussy began writing it in 1890, though it would be 15 years before it was published.
It has been described as a piano masterpiece, and each note is filled with a feeling of love. You may recognize the tune from the Twilight films, which seems a fitting choice for the soundtrack as the title Clair de Lune is French for moonlight.
3. Saint-Saëns | Carnival of the Animals
Carnival of the Animals is a wonderful classical piece to capture and hold the attention of kids of all ages. Its bold rhythm and changing pace can bring to mind a brilliant frenzy of assorted animals. It’s long but perfect, with 14 movements that include a swan, lion, donkey, and elephant. This is a beautiful and clever piece that you can talk to your children about, inspiring imaginative play and movement as they listen.
4. Prokofiev | Peter and the Wolf
A wonderful classic story told in musical form, this captivating piece is a beautiful alternative to a traditionally told fairy tale. Using different instruments from an impressive full orchestra to represent the characters, it was written by Prokofiev in 1936, especially for children, for the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow. Kids can experience excitement, wonder, tension, and delight as they listen. You can talk with them before, during, and after the symphony about their interpretation and the characters and action they imagine from the different instruments playing during this amazing musical story adventure.
5. Tchaikovsky | Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
A much-loved melody familiar to many of us, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker is sure to capture tiny minds — as well as their feet! Its tinkling sounds are joined by striking, stirring, and enchanting notes that your children won’t want to tear their ears from. The score from the Nutcracker is a wonderful classical collection for children to enjoy, which is why it’s been delighting ballet audiences since its inception in 1892!
6. Handel | Water Music
An infectious, uplifting, and delightful orchestral piece, Water Music instantly captures the attention of children and adults alike. It can’t be ignored, it can’t help but make you smile, and we see it as one of the most positive and life-affirming classical music pieces for kids to enjoy. The name Water Music comes from King George I’s wish for a River Thames concert in 1917. This catchy and jolly piece comprises a collection of orchestral movements, which kids can enjoy and embrace as the music washes over their ears, leaving them uplifted.
7. Tchaikovsky | Swan Theme
From the breathtaking ballet, Swan Lake, Swan Theme is arguably one of the most beautiful and haunting classical melodies in the world. Kids will be captivated by its themes of love, hope, and sadness, and it will cause grown-ups to pause, listen, and truly experience the music too. As with the Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky has created a beautiful suite of music in Swan Lake that can form an ideal introduction to theater and ballet for young children. And we firmly believe that letting your little ones be taken on a journey with this music is the perfect place to begin.
8. Mozart | Concerto No. 20 in D minor
One of the most famous and loved concertos across the globe, Mozart has influenced the whole genre of classical music with his masterpiece. As beautiful as it is exciting, kids can enjoy the differing pace, feeling the build of each note and the excitement of each instrument. Mozart composed this piece in 1785, which premiered in Vienna with him performing as the soloist. There is a reason this concerto is a favorite for many, and it’s a perfect uplifting tune to feature in your children’s lives too.
9. Elmer Bernstein | The Great Escape
Almost all children love action and adventure, and no piece of classical music captures these things better than The Great Escape. The theme tune of the Second World War film starring Steve McQueen, this piece is as loved now as it was when it was first heard back in 1963. As is often said, music is an experience, and this brilliantly jolly, catchy, and utterly memorable tune will take your kids on a fantastic, unforgettable journey. They may march, they may dance, they may play make-believe, and you will all, undoubtedly, smile and enjoy.
10. Beethoven | Symphony No. 5
We can’t end our list without some Beethoven, and what’s better than a piece that’s ingrained in the rich history of classical music? While you will certainly be familiar with the bold and stirring notes, your children will quickly become connected with it too. It has the power to bring to mind dramatic and exciting imagery, and while kids may simply enjoy listening, they may well play and move as they do, creating their own story or theater in their mind.
We defy you not to hum or whistle along, and we’re sure you won’t be able to get it out of your head all day!
Enjoy Classical Music for Kids with Jooki and Spotify
As well as all the benefits we’ve already talked about, when kids experience classical music, it can become an enriching part of their lives into adulthood. Encouraging a positive relationship with music from an early age means your little ones can access tools to relax, switch off, and be transformed to a new world whenever they want. And who knows, you could even be inspiring the next budding composer!