The Best Music to Listen to While Studying or Writing: A Scientific Approach

Is it possible that music can help you focus? The answer is a definite ‘maybe’ – but it all comes down to the individual, and by experimenting with different genres and volume levels you can find out for yourself what works best. Try this basic process, and start figuring it out for yourself!

  • Before you get down to studying or writing your academic essays, spend five minutes or so listening to music that you usually find motivational or relaxing. By doing this, you can lift your mood, and start ‘priming’ your brain for the task at hand.
  • While you are studying, have a go at listening to a playlist that doesn’t feature lyrics or vocals that you recognize. The radio, therefore, is probably not your best bet in this regard – try something instrumental, and keep the volume low to moderate. If you find yourself facing a task that requires a bit more focus, just put the music on pause for a bit.
  • Once you’ve completed your task, take a moment to review what you’ve been studying. Then, play some more of your favorite tunes – especially those with strong, enjoyable melodies (it doesn’t matter if there are vocals or not).

Here are five of the best types of music to experiment with are:

1. Electronic Music (Ambient, EDM, Chillhop)

This is a very broad genre of music, and its various forms can be heard on college and university campuses worldwide. It covers such things as chilled ambient music, to fast-paced EDM (electronic dance music) featuring frantic beats and a variety of sounds, and it’s often seen as great studying music. Why? Because, just like classical music, ambient and electronic music can provide a relaxing vibe that’s perfect for improving concentration.

It’s likely that you’ll be restricted by a fairly tight budget during your studies. As such, it’s never a bad idea to source this kind of music from websites offering free online streaming services. Soma.fm does this very well indeed, as do services like Spotify, Digitally Imported and others besides. Each of these streaming sites will give you access to an enormous array of electronic artists and their songs, meaning you can explore and experiment to your heart’s content.

If you don’t fancy using a streaming service, then YouTube is going to be your new best friend when it comes to finding these kinds of tunes. Ambient and electronic music is easy to find – just type in exactly what you’re looking for, and we’re sure dozens of examples will be immediately at your fingertips.

Author Tip: Blade Runner 2049 Soundtrack can be surprisingly inspiring and helpful when it comes to writing lengthy assignments or when deep concentration needed.

2. Jazz & Fusion

We’re well aware that not many young people would proclaim themselves to be big fans of jazz, but it’s clear that this is a genre of music that’s well worth exploring when it comes to finding the perfect study soundtrack. Mellow, inspiring, relaxed and complex, instrumental jazz music can be perfect for hitting the right ambiance for your studies.

If you want to give instrumental jazz a try as your new studying soundtrack, try listening to the jazz greats: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Thelonious Monk all produced some superb mellow albums, all of which could hit the right notes for helping you knuckle down and concentrate on your academic work. Talking about Modern Jazz, go and check out Snarky Puppy quasi-collective that is four-time Grammy Award-winning fusion band or GoGo Penguin, who has called “Esbjorn Svensson inheritors.” Other words, Jazz music is more than versatile, and everyone who likes music for both brain and butty will note how helpful it may be when it comes to studying.

Author Tip: If you was never jazz or even a blues fan, try to listen it at first for non-intense kind of job. Jazz music can be helpful when it comes to creative writing, text analysis, proofreading.

3. Folk, Ethnic and World Music

Finding music to listen to while studying is often easier when you become open to possibilities outside of music from North America and Western Europe. The styles from around the rest of the globe are extremely diverse and may offer exotic sounds and rhythms that you have never heard before. And a lot of it is suitable to use while concentrating. (Music for studying doesn’t always have to consist of sounds that you already know well, especially if you need to write or channel your creativity or imagination somehow.)

Moreover, some bands have their unique style, such as Dakha Brakha who mixes up the traditional west-Ukrainian folk song with R’n’B rhythms and arranging. Sounds interesting right? Music for concentration is created in almost every culture. Plus, some world music is even compelling when it includes vocals (as long as you don’t understand the language being sung). How do you think studying with music like the following examples would work for you?

4. Classical Music / Academical Music

Like many young people, it’s likely you associate classical music with older people, or think of it as somewhat elitist or snobbish. However, to entirely avoid using classical music for your studies might be a mistake: it’s a genre with a long and fascinating history, and it is well known for its relaxing properties, as well as helping with sleep and stress reduction.

Classical music is especially suitable for those students who don’t already have strong feelings of like or dislike for it. Indeed, that ambivalence is something which can make it more efficient for concentration; it means you’re less likely to be distracted, and more likely to notice the benefit of it in regards to creating a peaceful atmosphere.
Don’t miss neoclassical music or classical music of 20th century such as Edward Grig, Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitri Shostakovich and others.

So, what is the most effective classical music to help you with your studies? Most people would immediately turn to Mozart; the so-called ‘Mozart Effect’ is something which has become very well known and widely publicised. However, since the theory linking Mozart with concentration first arose, it has been proven that Mozart is far from alone when it comes to enhancing your mental abilities and level of focus. It all comes down to personal preference.

Author Tip: A classical music impact on studying and learning has a lot of scientific proofs and evidence. But this statement may never be considered absolute. Search, listen and you’ll find your preferred artists, symphony. Believe me or not, classical music can be good enough for every brain activity, when chosen with heart.

5. Post-Rock and Shoegaze.

Many college students would claim that the so-called ‘post-rock’ genre is the one that helps them focus on their studies. Again, this is a very diverse type of music, and it regularly features bands displaying a high level of musical ability, often performing without any of the vocals or apparent hooks we associate with other types of rock music. This results in a set of songs which are often ideal for background music, as they fade and swell gradually, without drawing too much attention to themselves.

Great examples of atmospheric post-rock bands include the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, as well as acts like Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and Explosions In The Sky. These groups eschew traditional song structures in favor of ambient soundscaping, and they’ll usually begin with subtlety and minimalism, and then grow to a highly satisfying wall of sound.

Author Tip: Don’t forget to fasten your cosmic seatbelt! Listening to post-rock more than an hour may cause an unexpected space trip 🙂

Final Tips and Genres That You Need to Pass Over.

Honestly speaking, it’s very individual and sometimes very complex to find not just appropriate music for studying, but inspiring and helpful. Even now, I don’t stop searching and opening up new horizons of music’s cognitively-vital effects. But to save your time, here are few genres, that can help you with anything, but not with learning:

  • Don’t try to listen to the music that you admired with too much (moreover if you musician or like to play the music of the same genre. Music that stays on the top of your playlist will always make you think about it, causing poor concentration as well as unsatisfied task performance. Try something neutral.
  • Avoid music with the break, blast, or extremely funky beats. Because pitter-pattering or “changa-langing” with your finger, while writing an academic essay is quite controversial.
  • Passover punk rock, stoner, technical brutal death, avangard or free jazz or any other genre, which is weird, its popularity is extremely low, or its genre name consists more than out of 4 words (neo-classical technical symphony black metal e.g.) brings destructiveness and chaos right in the first four bars.

I hope everyone will find how to succeed with your studying with the help of music.

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