Music is life itself. What would this world be without good music? No matter what kind it is.

~Louis Armstrong~


There have been studies suggesting we do not listen to music while we study.  For some it can be distracting, and maybe optimal to have quiet for devoting your complete attention to your studies. However other people may not prescribe to this line of thought. Music for some is a wonderful way to enhance the study experience, music may help the mind from wandering. Quiet can even cause you to be far more bored and retain less. Think about it though, it is quiet when you head off to bed, hence the heavy eyelids when you’re going through the last sentence for the fifth time.

It is important to choose the best music though. You want music that is calming and elevates your mood to create a productive atmosphere.

Research finds that classical music is the most peaceful and least distracting while studying……. Especially Mozart! []

There is something to be said about the‘Mozart Effect’, the man was truly a genius!

Perhaps listen to more instrumental music, mainly because it is instrumental. Radio or songs with catchy lyrics can distract.  Elvis once said in an interview when asked why he danced the way he did and he said: “Rock and roll music, if you like it,if you feel it, you can’t help but move to it. That’s what happens to me. I can’t help it.” You have probably felt the same way at some point in time. This is what you should avoid when you’repicking music to study by.  Listening to the radio can also be just like hearing or talking anywhere and you will try to listen (sometimes unconsciously, or times … well, we won’t suggest anybody eavesdrops!). It’s human nature and, like when we are driving in our cars, we may like to sing along!  As mentioned, the radio can be equally or even more distracting.  If you have ever talked to the DJ when he/she is talking, you know just how involved we can get in the radio.  What I am trying to say here is, there is great music to study by but there is also bad music to study by! Make sure you choose wisely.

Smooth jazz instrumentals can be very good for studying. The thing about instrumental easy listening jazz, is it is in the background…. that’s the secret! It is calming, it’s in the backgroundand it doesn’t (or shouldn’t force you) to be a part of it.

This brings me to another point; it does not need to be music.  Some people like to listen to sound tracks of the rain, waterfalls or waves crashing against a sandy beach.  There are also sounds of the forest/jungle, birdsong, etc. each can be very relaxing. Water sounds, although very pleasant and calming, can also cause their own problems.  As long as you have a strong constitution, you will be fine. Ha!

There is one way even the most calming of music or sounds can be incredibly distracting: volume. You have to remember; you are not listening to the music to entertain you.  Cranking the volume up to 9, 10 or even 11 maybe great when the party has started, but right now you are here to study, the music is supposed to be in the background. We are living at a time when everyone seems to have their earbuds in and we are blocking out the world around us.  Well, you will do the same thing if you keep the volume up when you are studying. The problem here is you are blocking out the information you are trying to retain. Again, it is meant to be in the background and as anybody who has gone into a restaurant where the music is too loud, you know how off putting it can be.

This may sound obvious, but you need to create a playlist of you favourite music. I have trouble with procrastination and there is nothing worse for me then to create a situation ripe for procrastination!  Can you figure out what I’m getting at?  You have put on a song randomly selected from your phone, streaming or collection and the next song isn’t one you are particularly in to. Next thing you know, you just spent 2 hours searching for the next song and wasted your whole study session!

Think about it, it can be just like searching for a TV show on Netflix and the next thing you know it’s the middle of the night and you haven’t watched anything but trailers. Set up the playlist in advance and stick to it. Make sure there are enough songs or pieces of music so you can fast-forward if you realize you really don’t want to listen to that. Keep in mind as well, there are pre-set playlist on Amazon Music and YouTube for studying. I have tried a few of them and they are very good and last as long as three hours. Most of the music is instrumental with other ‘sounds’ playing through it.  At a low volume, you can hear it but you can also forget about it all together.

If you like to have a clear break in your studying, you can keep the music between 60 and 90 minutes. When the music stops, you know it is time to take a break.

The important things here can be summed up in few key points:

1.    Choose music that relaxes you. A relaxed mind is going to absorb the information better and allow you to retain it and ultimately retrieve.

2.    Instrument music is best, itis less distracting and more calming. There are also tracks of running water, rain, birdsong, etc. and theseare equally calming.

3.    Keep the volume low.  Remember, this is a study session not a party. Volume can be just as distracting as chatter or singing.

4.    Don’t spend a lot of time trying to choose the music for your playlists but try to keep each playlist between 60 and 90 minutes each or try to have another way to let yourself know that it is time to take a break.

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