Study playlists

Listening to music while you study is one of many ways to help you focus and get the work done.

6 Mar 2017

Struggling to focus while studying? Try plugging in and blocking out your surroundings with a great study playlist – just put on your best tunes and get started!

Why does music help when studying?

Let’s get technical here. Stanford University back in 2007 completed a study on the way music affects the brain, and it boils down to this: music makes your brain pay attention. It “engages areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory”. The study specifically focused on when your brain activity is at its peak when listening to music. It may surprise you but they found that it’s actually during that short silence between beats, notes and even songs – when we think nothing is actually happening.

Don’t forget to pick the right kind of music!

Definitely give plugging in and blocking out everything else with a rocking playlist, if it suits you. But, make sure it’s the right music.

In 2012 Colorado Technical University wrote an easy to understand article about ‘The Relationship Between Learning and Music“. It basically says that the effect music has on your learning and study outcomes generally relates to the way you and your brain react to different types of music. You probably already notice this, but some kinds of music pump you up, others set the mood or lower your stress levels, and so much more. Adding the right kind of music can help you stay focused and on task.

So what is the right kind of music? That’s complicated, and you may need to test it out as you go along because it’s different for everyone. But here are a few hints and tips:

  • Classical or similar music is “naturally mathematical” and stimulates the parts of your brain that you need when working on difficult or complex concepts and problems
  • Harsh and jarring music, or music with distracting lyrics, will pull your focus away from what you’re doing (so maybe save Eminem for when you’re feeling angry and need to vent)
  • Traditionally instrumental and rhythmic music (including some genres like easy listening) is also great


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