If you like to listen to music while you study, choosing the right type can be vital to your overall productivity level.
Listening to music can calm you down, leading to more conscientious studying, elevating your mood, motivating you to stay focused and studying for longer periods of time.
While it can be a challenge to stay away from the hottest hits, selecting the wrong type of music can distract you from your studies and become counterproductive.
So, what type of music is considered “music for the mind?”
The following types of music are recommended for studying, along with tips to help you choose which genre will keep you most focused on your objective – studying.
Below each genre there’s a recommendation so that you can test out the genre and discover which type of music works best for you.
1. Never underestimate the power of classical.
Classical music is known for being both peaceful and harmonious, creating a calm and serene study environment for the listen.
It’s recommended as one of the best studying genres for students, because listeners report side effects like better mood and increased productivity. As far as side effects go, those aren’t too shabby!
Recommendation: Brandenburg Concerto #3 – Bach
2. Timed Tempos
Studies have shown that music timed at 60 beats-per-minute can help put people’s minds into ease; putting brains into a more productive mode where thinking are creativity are easier.
Recommendation: Concertos for Recorder – Telemann & Vivaldi
3. Instrumental Ambient Sounds
If you prefer a more modern flair, this may be the perfect option for you. Relaxing sounds of instruments can be paired with modern tunes to get the best of both worlds – so you don’t have to sacrifice a thing.
Recommendation: VSQ Performs the Hits of 2013, Volume 2 – Vitamin String Quartet
4. Nature Sounds
This type of “music” is perfect for those not so into classical music. It’s known for increasing concentration levels and keeps the listener’s mind engaged at a more subconscious level.
It also can be very calming, which is why many use it to help with meditations and to fall asleep.
What falls into this category are soundtracks of nature like waterfalls, rain or the sounds of the seashore rolling in.
5. Modern Electronic
Modern electronic is also commonly referred to as “chill out” music. The genres include Ambient House, Ambient Trance, New Age and Trip Hop.
They are known to relax the mind, encouraging it to roam. Be careful not to let it roam too much, however – you want to stay focused on the task at hand!
Recommendation: Music for Airports – Eno
6. Volume control.
Make sure that your background music is, indeed, in the background and is not distracting you or any of the students around you.
Think about it: it’s nearly impossible for you to be completely focused if your head is about to, um, explode. Keep the noise level to a minimum so that the study level is at a maximum.
7. Plan out your playlist.
Don’t wait until the time you’ve set aside for studying to create a playlist. Create it on your downtime so that, when it’s time to study, studying is the only task at hand and all you need to do as far as music is concerned is press play.
That way, you’ll be able to stay focused and won’t take any time away from what you should be accomplishing.
If you forget to plan ahead or don’t want to create your own playlist, don’t sweat it! There are some great resources that will do it for you, like the Study Music Project, which gives you a playlist of free study music each time you press play for more than an hour.
8. Break it up.
Plan your playlist so that, when it ends, it will be an indication that it’s your break time.
It’s helpful for you to not have to shift modes and have to worry about changing your music and you have the added benefit of never having to look at the clock because your playlist will function as a built in timer.
9. Studying is more important than music.
Avoid spending hours creating your playlist. After all, it should essentially just become background noise. What you should ultimately focus on is your studies.
You can spend hours on playlists for your road trips in the summertime when school is out!
10. The bottom line.
Whether you listen to any of these recommendations, Miley Cyrus, Tupac, or whatever else, it really doesn’t make a difference – as long as it works.
Remember: what’s most important – what actually matters is that whatever you’re listening to doesn’t distract you, calms you and truly puts your mind into study mode so that you can be productive and retain as much information as possible.
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College students love multitasking. We also love music. It would make sense, then, that most of us enjoy listening to some type of music when we’re studying or doing homework.
Having music on in the background makes the task at hand feel a little less stressful and serious. It can have a calming effect while keeping us focused, or it can provide motivation by pumping us up.
Music choices can vary depending on what kind of student or person you are. Here is a list of the types of music popular among college students while they are getting their work done.
Some students prefer music of the classical genre when studying or completing assignments for class. This type of music can be calming and great to have on in the background with any given task at hand.
If you’re the type of student who can’t focus while there is music with lyrics playing, try out classical music. There will be no distraction from words, and it can have an extremely soothing effect.
Start with the “Exam Study Classical Music” playlist on Spotify for a variety of classical music by historically renowned composers.
On the other end of the spectrum is the hip-hop/rap genre. Students who already favor this genre outside of studying may choose to listen to it while getting their work done. Just as it might have a similar effect at the gym, hip-hop/rap gets the student pumped and ready to be productive and successful.
It also keeps the student awake and attentive, something essential for studying and getting homework done. Find a station of the genre on Pandora, playlists on Spotify, or search your favorite songs on YouTube.
A happy medium between classical and hip-hop/rap is the genre of electronic. It’s calming like classical, and there usually aren’t lyrics. It’s like hip-hop in the way that it pumps you up. The beats and tempos are a bit quicker, but it’s not as generally overwhelming as hip-hop/rap while you’re trying to study.
Try Past is Prologue by Tycho, Cirrus by Bonobo, Loud Pipes by Ratatat and Spirit of Life by Blackmill.
4. Rock/light rock
If you’re a rock fan of any type, you might naturally enjoy this genre while studying. It can pump you up depending on what artist or band you’re listening to. It can be calming while motivating at the same time.
Some students might enjoy having classic rock on in the background, while others prefer heavy metal to get them pumped and keep them alert while they’re working.
Another alternative within this genre is rock or light rock without lyrics for those students who get too distracted by the words in songs when they’re trying to focus. Great artists for this preference are RJD2 and El Ten Eleven. Start with Ghostwriter by RJD2 and My Only Swerving by El Ten Eleven, and build playlists from there.
A step up from electronic (just a tad more intense) is EDM — Electronic Dance Music. This genre has gotten more and more popular among young audiences over the past few years along with EDM festivals across the U.S.
This genre is what would be considered the ultimate “pump-up” music. If it’s late at night, you feel yourself getting tired and you really feel like you need some study motivation, EDM is your best bet. You definitely won’t fall asleep, especially if you are listening to it loud. If you focus enough on the task at hand while listening to this type of music, you’ll stay alert and attentive to be as productive as possible.
Put on an EDM station on Pandora, or search EDM playlists on Spotify or YouTube.
6. Top hits
If you’re not a huge music aficionado, that is you don’t have a ton of favorite artists, bands or genres, but you can’t study or do homework without some type of background noise, you might just enjoy top hits. They’re what’s on the radio, so you’re most likely familiar with a lot of the songs.
Some college students just like to have some kind of sound going on in the background because it’s hard for them to focus with complete silence. Even if you don’t have specific preferences when it comes to your music, you’ll most likely enjoy top hits.
Start with a top hits station on Pandora, or by searching top songs on YouTube that you’ve heard recently to get yourself going. Spotify also has a “charts” section under the “browse” tab where you can choose between Global Top 50, United States Top 50, United States Viral 50 and Global Viral 50.=
Alexandra Brown writes for Uloop, a leading college news and college classifieds resource for student housing, jobs and internships, roommates and sublets, tutors and scholarships, study abroad, test prep, and local services for college students.
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