Since my kids were born, my major musical activity has been singing them to sleep at night. Sometimes it takes a long time for them to drift off, and I spent the first year combing through my memory for songs I knew the words to that had a lullaby vibe. I immediately discovered that some traditional lullabies are much too creepy to actually sing to my kids. Have you ever thought about the words to “Rock-a-bye Baby”? They are seriously messed up. Meanwhile, a lot of the music that I like is no good for solo singing: instrumental jazz, hip-hop, ambient electronica. And then there are songs I love that I just don’t have a big enough range or strong enough pitch for. So it’s taken me some time to assemble a good catalog of workable tunes.

This playlist represents my favorite songs for bedtime singing. Along the way, I’ve made some interesting discoveries. Singing a song over and over, night after night, is a great way to stress test a song’s quality. Weak or mediocre songs get boring and annoying quickly. On the other hand, the best songs reveal new pleasures and depths no matter how many times you sing them. A great set of lyrics doesn’t even have to make sense, as long as it feels good in your mouth. Also, you’ll see a number of songs here that might immediately seem too uptempo, too sad, or just plain too weird to be lullabies. I can assure you that if you sing them slowly and softly, they all work great. 

This playlist isn’t just for parents of young kids. Consider it a collection of songs from an eclectic array of genres and eras with one thing in common: you can sing them, to yourself or someone else, and they will make you feel better. Happy listening, and happy singing!

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About The Curator - Ethan Hein

Ethan Hein is a Doctoral Fellow in Music Education at New York University. He teaches music technology, production and education at NYU and Montclair State University. With the NYU Music Experience Design Lab (, Ethan has taken a leadership role in the creation of new technologies for learning and expression, most notably the Groove Pizza ( In collaboration with Soundfly, he has developed a series of online music theory courses ( He maintains a widely-followed and influential blog (, and has written for various publications, including Slate, Quartz, and NewMusicBox.