The Sound of Studying to Music


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The scene is the same – books spread open, notes all over the table and a very unhappy student. Ever notice “studying” sounds oddly like a conjunction of “students-dying?”

When prepping for finals, it seems like there are a million other things that one could be doing that would be ten times more enjoyable. However, there are a few ways one can make the studying process a bit more pleasant. One key tip: music.

Music sets the tone for any study session; whether it is a huge test, a final project or an essay. The easiest way to get started is to have a playlist ready for the occasion.

“If I know I have a major paper to write I immediately put together a playlist of my favorite songs at the moment,” said Sydney Trezza, sophomore. “Everything seems a lot more bearable if I have a good soundtrack.”

Create a playlist with all of one’s favorite songs in advance to avoid having to search for a new track every few minutes. Create a playlist that can last for 40 to 50 minutes – this will save time, create a schedule for how long the study session will last and will act as a reminder to take a short break when the playlist has finished.

Another bonus of pre-made playlists is avoiding annoying interruptions.

“I cannot stand when I’m trying to get into the zone and suddenly a commercial comes on in the middle of my music,” said Salomey Owusu, junior. “The announcer’s voice always makes me lose my current train of thought and interrupts my study session.”

Moral of the story: do not listen to music on the radio when studying. The dialogue of DJ’s and advertisements will distract from the task at hand. When studying, the student should have complete control of their music.

While composing a playlist, keep in mind which genres will aid the situation, not disturb. Remember – the library is not a rave. If heavy bass lines are what keep one concentrated, then by all means create a playlist of completely dope beats. However, bear in mind that other students are also trying to study, and each individual’s music should be kept at a respectful volume.

“One of my least favorite things in the whole world is when people keep their volume on blast in the library,” said Carlos Rodriguez, sophomore. “It’s really annoying and then I feel like I have to make my music louder just to hear it. It becomes a huge distraction.”

The main purpose of listening to music is to improve the studying experience, so a moderate volume is always preferable. Likewise, whatever one listens to should be background noise for the study session, so feel free to listen to more ambient sounds.

Something peaceful and harmonious is desirable, so classical or instrumental music are great options to set the tone. Similarly, natural sounds such as rain or waves can be excellent whilst studying. Though not exactly music, these soundscapes are relaxing and allow one to remove themselves from the hectic environment they are in for something a lot more soothing.

Aside from its ability to calm and concentrate a listener, the repetitive quality of music is incredibly beneficial when studying.

“Human memory researchers have identified so called ‘slave systems’ in our short-term memory, components of the mind which capture sights and sounds,” reported Tom Stafford to “One slave system is the ‘mind’s eye,’ capturing visual information, another is the ‘inner ear,’ the part we use for remembering phone numbers, for instance. Rather than rehearse our plans for the day, idle thoughts, or lists of things to remember, the inner ear gets stuck on a few short bars of music or a couple of phrases from a song.”

This addictive quality can be manipulated when studying. By associating a song or soundscape with a certain bit of information gives the brain something to cling to when memorizing material.

Studying does not always need to be a dreadful experience. With the right soundtrack, a study session can be equally productive and enjoyable. So, before that feeling of “students-dying” creeps in, find the right tracks to keep one on track whilst working on homework or studying.


One thought on “The Sound of Studying to Music

  • December 3, 2015 at 8:27 am

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