Vermont Symphony Orchestra

The VSO Blog

Music to soothe stress

It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed by the stressors of daily life, and it’s even easier amidst a global pandemic. Although live performances have been curtailed around the world this season, it’s important to remember that music is still here to help in what has become a time of need for many. Playing an instrument or listening to recorded music are great ways to relieve stress and lift spirits, even if only for a few minutes. If you need a little help unwinding, check out some of the VSO staff’s favorite music to soothe stress.


For me, a massage or facial with new age music is the deepest relaxation, but a musical experience that doesn’t involve bodily contact is PROBABLY the way to go right now! Here are some pieces that do it for me:

Mahler – “Adagietto” (fourth movement of Symphony No. 5)

Arvo Pärt – Spiegel im Spiegel

Ottorino Respighi – “L’adorazione dei Magi” from Trittico Botticelliano

Eric Satie – Gymnopédies

—Eleanor Long, Orchestra Manager


When I need to find calm or soothing music, I have a few different choices that are my “go to” picks. The first is an odd choice since it’s the soundtrack to the movie Melancholia which is definitely not uplifting. But the soundtrack includes pieces from Tristan und Isolde and closes with Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. The music is moody, beautiful, and I can get lost in a story in my head.

Kacey Musgraves is a country artist I’ve fallen for ever since I learned she wrote Miranda Lambert’s hit Mama’s Broken Heart. Musgraves, fondly known as Spacey Kacey, has three albums and a few duets with Willie Nelson. Her music is light, witty, and just fun. It’s definitely a stress reliever and an up-lifter all in one! And lastly, if I’m in serious need of a pick-me-up, I will always turn to the Jurassic Park soundtrack. I know—it’s my choice for every “music pick” blog, but it really is one of my favorites!

—Sasha Vaut, Director of Philanthropy


As I was trying to mull over a song that soothes or calms me down when I’m stressed, I kept circling back to the music of Radiohead. They’ve been my favorite band since I was about 13 years old and their music has gotten me through some tough and tumultuous times in my life. I felt like I couldn’t just say “Radiohead”, however, so if I had to pick it would be No Surprises—a quiet, beautiful song with a lullaby-type melody and softly sung lyrics about craving a quiet life with “no alarms, and no surprises.”

—Grace Spain, Box Office Manager


I think times like these call for some mellow indie folk. Some of my favorite tracks right now are Follow the Sun and Northbound River by Spencer Roberts, and Wind and Water by Burlington’s own Bear’s Tapestry. Bear’s Tapestry’s broader catalogue serves dual purposes of both soothing and distracting—their introspective takes on love, regret, and personal growth are striking enough to pull me away from the matters at hand.

—Margot Van Horne, Marketing Manager


Whenever I start to feel stress begin to overtake me, I often find myself listening to songs from my childhood that remind me of my parents. One of my favorite aspects of music is that it has a unique ability to transport you to back to a certain time and place more effectively than almost anything else—it’s my own personal time machine. My mother was a piano player who absolutely loved everything Debussy—Reverie was one of her favorites, and I can still picture her plunking it out on the piano. My dad, on the other hand, was the biggest John Denver fan in the world. Seriously. I can remember so many great times with him that were accompanied with a little Country Roads playing in the background. I’ll put on one of his old records and listen to Poems, Prayers and Promises and immediately feel the stress wash away.

—Matt LaRocca, Artistic Advisor and Project Conductor


Stay safe, take care, and enjoy the music!