What exactly is the quality a piece of music would need to have to make it transcendental? In the art world, transcendental works – closely associated with surrealist and abstract works – are untethered from reality, often composed of enigmatic shapes that evoke strong feelings without depicting anything recognizable. The same principle can be applied to transcendental music: there are not necessarily any lyrics or catchy melodies that repeat, more often they are categorized as tone poems, meant to evoke something visual in the mind’s eye. Typically, when we talk about transcendental music we are talking about ambient or classical music that is very relaxing, or sometimes quietly intense.
If you have a young child, then they probably appreciate repetitive songs the likes of which you’d hear on Sesame Street or the Super Simple Songs Channel over on YouTube, rather than classical music by Mozart or ambient classics by Brian Eno. On a conscious level, children want music that is easy to dance to, easy to sing along to and just plain fun. There’s nothing wrong with this, and even sophisticated composers have been known to throw down simple, repetitive melodies from time to time; case in point, Rockabye Baby was originally written by the legendary composer JS Brahms.
Whether you’re into Brahms or Taylor Swift, the purpose of this post it to point out that by subtly introducing ambient and classical music into your child’s world while they are still an infant, you can give them a head start towards appreciating more sophisticated music that will help develop intelligence and taste. You may just end up going along for the ride and expanding your own appreciation of music.
Soft, ambient music such Brian Eno’s famous Music for Airports album can soothe your infant and help them fall asleep. Even Doctor’s have begun recording ambient music specially designed to lull children and adults into sleep. Dr. Jeffrey Thompson (whose music can easily be found on Spotify) has released several transcendental albums for sleep that are pleasant to listen to and can aid in you or your child’s nightly quest to get deeper, more refreshing sleep.
Other classical artists such as Jean Sibelius, Mozart and the pianist Franz Liszt all composed beautiful music that is relaxing and pleasant to the ears. If you’re looking for something more contemporary, Philip Glass is a top tier 20th century composer who has written everything from modern opera to classical/ ambient works which establish repetitive, melodic themes.
By introducing your child to this type of mind-expanding music, you may inspire them from a very young age and help them develop creatively. It’s easier to get your kid to learn an instrument if you’ve instilled an appreciation of music in them from a young age; as with almost any discipline, however, a light touch is crucial. Playing transcendental music in the background without actively pushing it on them is a good strategy because they don’t feel pressured to listen to it. If they demand to hear a popular kids’ song, throw it on for them. And when they do pick up an instrument, give them the resources and the time they need to practice, but don’t push too hard, you may end up putting them off of music for life – and that would be a shame.