A Lexicon of Lullabies:
Everything you need to know about bedtime songs
Hi friends! In this blog, I’m going to attempt to curate all of the fantastic information out there about lullabies into one, convenient, alphabetically-organized page! Before we get into anything else, we have to start by understanding why lullabies are so developmentally beneficial for kids. Check out music expert Dr. Ibrahim Baltagi’s mini master class for UNICEF about ‘How Music Affects Your Baby’s Brain!’ (It’s a quick 5-minute video but super informative.)
A: An Abstract (AKA “A Summary” I’m just trying to be cute and make these titles in alphabetical order)
Dr. Baltagi says that singing lullabies to your children from the time they are in your belly to about 4 years old makes the biggest cognitive and developmental impact. Lullabies make your baby calmer because they literally slow down their heart rate. A familiar soothing tune becomes like a session of music therapy. Music at this age particularly enhances language acquisition and reading skills. It also helps with developing creativity and makes it easier for children to express themselves and share feelings. His final advice is to “start music with your children as early as possible.” This video sounds verbatim like an ad for The Music Class, but I swear it’s not lol! For more awesome parenting content from UNICEF, click here, and for more information about Music Class, click here!
B: “Brahms Lullaby” – The one you definitely know
As Dr. Baltagi said, one of the most popular and recognizable lullabies is Brahms Lullaby. You might know this tune as “Lullaby and Goodnight” or “Cradle Song.” This is a beautiful piece of classical music that was written by German composer Johannes Brahms for his friend Bertha Faber to celebrate the birth of her second son. Brahms Lullaby is available to stream for free on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music! It’s the final track of our Lullaby Collection CD, a compilation of bedtime songs in a variety of different styles that we hope can help all parents bring more lullabies into their child’s life! There are 25 straight lullabies on there – so just turn it on, sing along, and rock your little one to sleep!
C: Classical Music for Bedtime – “Go To Sleep”
Another excellent classical music lullaby is the “Go To Sleep Lullaby,” or just “Go To Sleep.” This melody is from the Largo movement of Antonin Dvorak’s famous piece, New World Symphony. Fun fact: Neil Armstrong took a tape recording of this symphony with him on the Apollo 11 spacecraft during his trip to become the first man to land on the moon! New World Symphony is one of the most popular symphonies of all time, so it’s excellent to expose your baby to these classic sounds as early as possible. The Music Class version features a paired down melody with a flute and upright bass.
D: Disney Lullabies – “Stay Awake” from the original Mary Poppins
Ok, we obviously don’t have any Disney lullabies available on our Lullaby Collection, but I just had to include this one in the list otherwise the Lexicon of Lullabies wouldn’t feel complete! I LOVED Mary Poppins growing up and the reverse psychology she uses in this lullaby is hilarious and so sweet. Let the reminiscing begin.
E: Exquisite Example – “Red River Valley” by Lola
I think it’s time to feature an amazingly adorable kid singing a lullaby. This song is “Red River Valley,” the famous “Cowboy Love Song” performed by the incomparable Lola. (For more info on Red River Valley including an amazing performance by Stevie Nicks, click here.)
F: “Fireflies” – Making lullabies personal for your child
Adapting songs to make them meaningful and personal for your child is something that we try to do with every song in Music Class. The lyrics on the recording are just the starting point for your family to get creative and sing about whatever is important to you! Of course, making up your own lullabies for your kids is incredibly special, and that’s what our two Music Class teachers did when they wrote “Fireflies.” Ms. Emily and Mr. Zac wrote this lullaby singing to their future child and recorded the song with one of Ms. Emily’s long-time students! It’s incredibly special, take a look! (and read Ms. Emily’s blog about the song here)
G: Goats? – “Raisins and Almonds” from The Monkey Collection
OK… OK… This title was a stretch, but there ARE goats in “Raisins and Almonds” from The Monkey Collection. (Listen! I swear!) This is a beautiful old Yiddish lullaby that most of our Jewish families will recognize. In every collection, we include a huge variety of musical styles from many different cultures all over the world, including traditional lullabies. Lullabies can be a particularly meaningful way to pass down traditions and a sense of cultural identity through the generations. Ask your child’s grandparents to bring back the lullabies that they remember from their childhood!
H: Happy babies, Happy baby dolls – “Lua Lua” by Suzie
I wanted to end today’s Lexicon of Lullabies with Suzie. Suzie is 3 years old and has been attending Music Class virtually with her family in Mexico (one of the silver linings to the pandemic – taking a class from anywhere!!). Suzie has started acting out being a Music Class teacher or a mom rocking her baby dolls to sleep. She is perfectly demonstrating the benefits of lullabies both as a child and as a caregiver! Research shows that lullabies soothe caregivers as well as their children. “Laura Cirelli, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Toronto, studies the science of maternal song. She found that when mothers sang lullabies, stress levels dropped not just for the baby but for mothers as well.” (check out the full article from National Geographic here) If you watch the video until the end, you can almost hear the implied mic drop as Suzie lulls her babies to sleep singing along to The Lullaby Collection and then, smiling, turns the stroller around and is off on her way.