Music moves us. We all know its capacity for tapping into our emotions and transporting us, which is why it’s an essential part of raising a child. But if you didn’t grow up singing songs in your target language, where do you begin?
When Bilingual Baby was born, I put myself to work finding music through books, friends, and my local bilingual community. I practiced singing certain songs over and over so I could memorize them and feel comfortable when I sang to my daughter.
I’ve gathered some composers and singers of children’s music in Spanish that we’ve loved over the years. I ruled out music with annoying high-pitched voices and synthesized instruments. The music had to be enjoyable for parents and kids alike.
Spanish Music Playlists on Spotify
If you just want to have the best of these songs and artists sorted for you, follow MamaLingua on Spotify. We worked together to compile specific playlists like: Canciones Sencillas, Canciones para Aprender, Canciones para Bailar Cumbia y Salsa, Canciones para Dormir…and more.
Artists we love
Mi Casa Es Tu Casa: If there were no pandemic, I might not be able to share this resource. These thoughtful, engaging, enriching music classes in Spanish used to be in-person only, and available just in our city. Not so anymore. Mi Casa Es Tu Casa has built out an incredible online program with live classes, a music app, pre-recorded videos of songs, as well as videos with puppetry, story-times, recipes, and parenting help. It’s been a positive presence in our lives while we stay home as much as possible like everyone else. Anyone living anywhere can sign up now, which is pretty cool! The songs are a mix of traditional and original music, all beautifully executed, kid-oriented, and a total pleasure.
123 Andrés: The tagline for this Colombian duo’s music is “Spanish and English songs for little language learners.” Their songs are catchy but also, often beautiful. They travel around and do live shows, so you can watch for them to come to your city, which is fun. And they are Latin Grammy Winners. They’re the real deal.
Maria Elena Walsh: Maria Elena Walsh is primarily known as an Argentine poet. In the ’50s she immigrated to Europe with a friend and they became a singing duo (Leda y Maria), mostly singing traditional Argentine songs. And later on she began writing her own nursery songs for children. You get the idea. Her music is rich, thoughtful, pleasing and to be enjoyed with your baby.
Marta Gómez: Marta Gómez is Colombian, went to Berkelee College of Music, and lives in Barcelona. Like 123 Andrés, she won a Latin Grammy for Best Children’s album. She has a beautiful voice, and the album (Coloreado) that won her the Grammy was a revue of traditional Spanish language children’s songs.
Nora Galit: Galit has three volumes under “Mis Primeras Canciones.” If you do no other listening of children’s music in Spanish, at least get these. These albums are mostly her and a guitar. They are easy on the ears and easy to learn if you want to do your own singing to your child.
Judith Akoschky: Akoschky is a music teacher and author from Argentina, She released four volumes under the album “Ruidos y Ruiditos” over the course of nearly twenty years. For babies, especially, they are magical. These volumes are an exploration of different sounds through music. Sounds like rain drops, train whistles, wind. They’re interesting and soothing.
Jose Luis-Orozco: If Raffi has a Spanish language counterpart, it might be this author and musician. But Jose Luis-Orozco doesn’t need to be compared to Raffi to stand on his own. His children’s songs are about the environment, love, friendship, and family. His “hello” and “goodbye” songs are the ones Bilingual Baby’s classmates sing every day at school.
Magdalena Fleitas: Argentine teacher and musician, Magdalena Fleitas, came to Austin last year and we got to sing with her in person thanks to an event organized by Mi Casa Es Tu Casa. We had already been listening to her music forever, but it was so nice to see that the warmth and care from her songs spilled over into her physical presence. She wears bright colors and is just as at home singing in a classroom with only her guitar as she is on a stage with a full band.
Nathalia: Nathalia’s songs are a little more hip—some distortion here, some rockin’ drums there, some pop. Originally from Colombia, she studied at Berkelee College of Music, and went on to get her master’s in clinical psychology. She’s a mom, musician, and psychologist who understands how to make learning language fun with music.