Good news parents, there’s a way to give kids a screen break without forgoing engrossing and educational content. Podcasts, and in particular musical ones, offer a dynamic, attention-grabbing learning opportunity that by their very nature, incite a theater in the minds of little listeners. Below are some hidden gems of musical podcasts that have the potential to teach and delight.
David Walliams, the English comedian, children’s author and television personality, is perfectly suited to host this utterly silly yet somehow thorough romp through classical music history. Walliams deftly engages his audience with historical adventures, telling stories of the piano, Franz Liszt and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with the help of cartoonish scenes and goofy re-enactments from across the eras of musical history. This 10-part program manages to pack a joke into every beat without feeling forced, and provides a rare example of humor in a children’s program that tickles kids and adults alike.
Every Sunday, tap into an indie music hour that just so happens to be made for kids but has the vibe of a local college radio station (one with age-appropriate subjects, lyrics and guest D.J.s.). Each weekly episode is organized into “sets” and has well-curated tunes to help introduce your child to cool bands like They Might Be Giants and musicians such as Andrew Bird, guaranteeing your child will stay engaged. And if you have a budding D.J. on your hands, check out “The Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl,” which provides two hours of “kindie music from today to yesterday” once a week out of Chattanooga State Community College in Tennessee.
In this music education podcast, your hosts, Mr. Henry and Mr. Fite, explain a different musical topic every episode. Whether its tackling rock, jazz or country, or instruments like the trumpet and electric guitar, this podcast explores the history, mechanics and application of every musical topic imaginable. With a joke of the day submitted by young listeners and silly antics between the hosts, this show balances information and entertainment. Interspersed are interviews with musicians, bands, composers and songwriters, kept at a level to keep kids engaged and learning.
Should you name your instrument? How can you tame the butterflies in your stomach before a performance? And how can you make instruments sound like animals? On this show, the mother-daughter duo Rebecca and Zara Lane ask musical performers, composers, conductors and young musicians all the right questions about classical music learning and performance. Whether they’re asking the conductor Andrés González what he’s actually doing when he waves his arms around in front of the orchestra, or the composer Iman Habibi how he can tell if his work will sound good before it has ever been played, their interviews are always imbued with the unique fun and curiosity of a program made for and by kids. Accented by relevant musical interludes, goofy sound effects and an episodic game of “Pasta or Composer?,” this show provides any kids beginning their classical music journey with a weekly creative treat.
In roughly 12-minute bites, this interactive podcast lets younger children participate in the “Noodle Loaf Choir.” Hosted by Dan Saks, a musician and music education specialist (as well as a dad), this show uses “echo songs” to get those 6 and under to participate in the singalongs, themed in such a way that they provide both learning and great rhythmic practice. With over 70 episodes in the back catalog, this podcast would work well for car trips with a particularly vocal tyke.
Join The New York Times Podcast Club on Facebook for more suggestions and discussions about all things audio.