Music is an integral part of many of our lives. I know for myself that few days pass by
without one, or many, of the albums I own resonating through the house. Music enriches our experience in a manner that no other external stimuli seems to be able to replicate. It evokes passion, joy, focus, spontaneity, melancholy, reflection, memories and many other responses.
In the light of our response to music, the music that you choose to play as you study will
impact your ability to study.
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The question is, what makes a great study playlist? Here’s a few things I’ve found
1. Choose instrumentals. As a general rule, depending on your personality of course,
lyrics act as a distraction. Whether it’s John Mayer, Taylor Swift (any questions regarding
the validity of this inclusion can be directed at All Too Well from Swift’s record RED,
lyrical brilliance), Coldplay or Bob Dylan, lyrics have the capacity to engage and tell a
story and oftentimes capture our attention.
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(PS: Five points to whoever comments with the artist and song this lyric is from)
2. Choose something outside of your normal listening. There’s two reasons for this
one. Firstly, if you’re anything like me, you might be inclined toward analysing the music,
anywhere from chord progressions (I – IV – V anyone?) to the tone of the electric guitar
and the quality of the recording. I’ve found that straying from my usual genre’s of
listening helps to break the analysis and focus on the task at hand. Secondly, listening to
new music breaks the familiarity of tracks previously listened to and allows us to create
new patterns of thinking around the new music. Have you ever been listening to a track
that was a staple at a particular time of life and noticed how it evokes similar emotional
and physiological reactions to that time you first listened to it? This is an example of the
thought patterns we create when listening to certain pieces of music.
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It would be remiss of me to not actually have some recommendations in this blog as to
what you should be listening to as you study. There is many studies that place classical music at the top of the list for productivity, creativity and focus and this (http://med.stanford.edu/news_releases/2007/july/music.html) piece by the Stanford School of Medicine highlights some potential benefits to listening to classical music while studying. Another well researched (and somewhat conflicted) line of thought is “The Mozart Effect”, that, when initially studied, showed an improvement in spacial reasoning among subjects. Many studies since the original have found both correlating data and incongruent data regarding the matter. In short, the verdict is still out.
My recommendation, however, would still be to listen to Classical Music when studying.
Composers such as Chopin, Bach and Mozart never fail to set a beautiful atmosphere and
block out external sounds which may otherwise act as a distraction. Pachelbel’s Canon in D is still highly regarded as one of the most relaxing pieces of all time and features on many Study Playlists. For some great, pre made playlists, check out Spotify and Youtube. These tried and tested playlists have helped many students get through hours of study and there’s always plenty of comments to help you find your way.
Here’s (https://play.spotify.com/user/127564522/playlist/0CwzkFXVbEK6VJO3Rzo7lX) the link to my favourite Spotify study playlist.
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After all this, more important than anything when your studying is to create an
environment where you can relax and focus. If you find that it’s ADTR that helps most in
that endeavour, listen to that, if it’s the Top 100 Billboard then listen to the Top 100 Billboard and if it’s Smooth Jazz, listen to that. For me, silence is as good as anything and I’ll put on some classical if I find myself distracted by other sounds. Find what suits you.
Until next time,