The Soundtrack to Sanity

Anna Dusseau | 20th March 2020

The best advice anyone gave me regarding parenting was to have the radio on in the background. That’s it! You’re welcome. But seriously, this passing comment has absolutely shaped my homeschool style and serves as a basis for keeping me calm and engaged throughout the day. Of course, the kids have their favourite high-octane podcasts and radio shows too and, quite obviously, we also have times of radio silence when other things are going on. But, as a general rule of thumb, so long as we are at home (which, let’s face it, we all are right now..) I keep my spirits lifted and my mind switched on with a variation of music and talk shows. Here’s my current Top 10.

Scala Radio A total find if this is new to you, Scala Radio combines classical music with the dulcit tones of radio legends such as Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode. I find the rich blend of academic banter with a dash of Chopin wakes my brain up better than a double espresso first thing.

TED Talks Who doesn’t love a good TED Talk? Covering a range of topics, from body language to biodiversity, each 20 minute presentation is like a mini mind massage and fits easily into your day. Check out Sir Ken Robinson’s talk ‘‘ which was a game changer for us.

Podcast Mixtapes There are so many to choose from, but the point is you’re wanting no chat and zero adverts when you listen to a mixtape, right? In which case the BBC Mixtape is a safe bet for poached eggs on a Sunday morning, but for more punch try something like Soup Kitchen or Mixology.

Radio One: Maya Jama My kids know that on a Friday at 11am the ‘Jamster’ will be turned up loud as mummy proves she knows the lyrics to all of these feel-good old school tracks. That seems like a childhood well spent. Grandparents, don’t expect The Jackson 5; this is old school, not antique.

Not Today, Thank You Hosted by BBC presenter and writer Jake Yapp, this is a funny show y’all. Each podcast is under 30 minutes and takes a quirky and non-stop chuckle-into-your-cappuccino take on the world right now. With a new episode daily, it’s easy to get hooked. Sorry about that.

Classic FM There’s no excuse for this not being on in the background. Not only is a daily dose of classical music uplifting for adult participants in the current global isolation experiment, but it’s proven to improve mood and concentration in children. Yikes! Better tune in now, then..

The Beatles Greatest Hits Not a radio show, I hear you say. Point taken. But for me, music from likes of The Beatles, Bob Marley and Norah Jones are my tonic when it’s been a tough day and it’s still too early for gin. What’s yours? If you want less mainstream, Christine and The Queens is a good shout.

Radio 2: The Graham Norton Show Okay, I sense you judging me. But the truth? I am the target audience for this show, hands down. With great guests and a lazy weekend playlist, this Saturday show is as satisfying as putting on a pair of slippers and accepting you’re not 25 any more.

Hotel Costes Volume 8 If you haven’t come across the Hotel Costes mixtapes by DJ Mark Farina, then this should be a real discovery. My favourite is Volume 8 as it combines silken mixing with lesser-known bangers, but they are all good. Solid background music for coffee or cocktails.

And there you have it! This is what I’m listening to right now and – coronavirus be damned – I’m feeling serene. Of course, I am following the news like any sane person. Of course, I have concerns for the long-term fallout, like everyone. And trust me, I know homeschooling can be a tough call, especially when you throw in trying to work from home. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Give your brain a rest from fake news and fractious kids at least once or twice a day. Tune in and zone out.

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Published by Anna Dusseau

Writer | Educator | Homeschooling Mum

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