How to Select Music for Studying : 10 Tips
It is said that to study it’s necessary to have a quiet environment without distractions. However, for some, studying in a quiet environment can backfire. This ‘quiet environment’ can make you end up fighting boredom and succumbing to the allure of sleeping at your desk! This is why the importance of choosing the right music for studying can’t be underestimated.
Although some studies say that listening to music while you study isn’t good, for many people it’s vital. It’s calms them down, which can lead to productive studying. Music can also help elevate your mood and motivate you to study longer.
The real challenge is to select the right music for studying. The wrong type of study music may end up distracting you from your study. So today we are going to offer some tips and ideas on how to pick the best study music for you!
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10 Tips: How to Choose Your Music for Studying
Tip # 1
Classical music is peaceful and harmonious making it one of the best options to listen to when studying.
Tip # 2
It seems that there is evidence that Mozart improves mental performance. They call it the “Mozart Effect.”
Tip # 3
Listen to ambient instrumental music. This type of music is more modern than classical and has a similar effect. I always find that movie soundtracks are quite good.
Tip # 4
Listen to sounds of nature such as rain, waves, jungles or animals while studying. While this is not exactly music it is relaxing and you will feel like you’re in another world.
Tip # 5
You’re studying, not crashing a rave! Listen to your study music at a moderate volume. The lower the better. The louder it is, the more it will distract you. Your main purpose is to study so keep your music in the background. When you’re finished studying then you can crank it up to 11!
Tip # 6
Create a playlist with all your favourite songs in advance to avoid having to search for new songs every 5 minutes. This will save you time, allow you to plan how long your study session will be and help your level of concentration while you study.
Tip # 7
Do not listen to music on the radio when studying. The dialogue of the presenters and ads will distract you. You should have complete control of your best study music.
Tip # 8
Make playlists that last for 40 to 50 minutes. When the playlist ends, this will act as a reminder to take a short break from studying.
Tip # 9
Listen to music before you go to bed or before an exam. This will make you feel relaxed and put you in the right state of mind.
Tip # 10
While choosing the best music to study while studying is important, you should avoid spending hours selecting the songs. At the end of the day, what matters is not choosing the best music in the world but that your study is productive
I hope these study tips are useful. You will know if you’ve made the right music choices if the music fades into the background and your study takes center stage. As soon as the music starts to cloud your study you need to change you study music choices… or just do a quick dance to get it out of your system!
Follow these tips and your choice of study music will improve.
And remember, use these tips while you study with GoConqr will bring you one step closer to achieving exam success. So log in or sign up for free now.
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Many people listen to music while they’re carrying out a task, whether they’re studying for an exam, driving a vehicle or even reading a book. Many of these people argue that background music helps them focus.
Why, though? When you think about it, that doesn’t make much sense. Why would having two things to concentrate on make you more focused, not less? Some people even go so far as to say that not having music on is more distracting. So what’s going on there?
It’s not clear why the brain likes music so much in the first place, although it clearly does. Interestingly, there’s a specific spectrum of musical properties that the brain prefers. Experiments by Maria Witek and colleagues reveal that there needs to be a medium level of syncopation in music to elicit a pleasure response and associated body movement in individuals. What this means in plain English is: music needs to be funky, but not too funky, for people to like it enough to make them want to dance.
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Your own experience will probably back this up. Simple, monotonous beats, like listening to a metronome, aren’t really entertaining. They have low levels of syncopation and certainly don’t make you want to dance. In contrast, chaotic and unpredictable music, like free jazz, has high levels of syncopation, can be extremely off-putting and rarely, if ever, entices people to dance.
The middle ground (funk music like James Brown is what the experimenters reference most) hits the sweet spot between predictable and chaotic, for which the brain has a strong preference. Most modern pop falls somewhere within this range, no doubt.
Why would music help us concentrate, though? One argument is to do with attention.
For all its amazing abilities, the brain hasn’t really evolved to take in abstract information or spend prolonged periods thinking about one thing. We seem to have two attention systems: a conscious one that enables us to direct our focus towards things we know we want to concentrate on and an unconscious one that shifts attention towards anything our senses pick up that might be significant. The unconscious one is simpler, more fundamental, and linked to emotional processing rather than higher reasoning. It also operates faster. So when you hear a noise when you’re alone at home, you’re paying attention to it long before you’re able to work out what it might have been. You can’t help it.
The trouble is, while our conscious attention is focused on the task in hand, the unconscious attention system doesn’t shut down; it’s still very much online, scanning for anything important in your peripheral senses. And if what we’re doing is unpleasant or dull – so you’re already having to force your attention to stay fixed on it – the unconscious attention system is even more potent. This means that a distraction doesn’t need to be as stimulating to divert your attention on to something else.
Some people argue that one of the best music genres for concentration is the video game soundtrack
Have you ever worked in an open-plan office and been working on a very important task, only to be driven slowly mad by a co-worker constantly sniffing, or sipping their coffee, or clipping their nails? Something quite innocuous suddenly becomes much more infuriating when you’re trying to work on something your brain doesn’t necessarily enjoy.
Music is a very useful tool in such situations. It provides non-invasive noise and pleasurable feelings, to effectively neutralise the unconscious attention system’s ability to distract us. It’s much like giving small children a new toy to play with while you’re trying to get some work done without them disturbing you.
Type of music
However, it’s not just a matter of providing any old background noise to keep distractions at bay. A lot of companies have tried using pink noise (pdf) – a less invasive version of white noise – broadcasting it around the workplace to reduce distractions and boost productivity. But views on the effectiveness of this approach are mixed at best.
It seems clear that the type of noise, or music, is important. This may seem obvious: someone listening to classical music while they work wouldn’t seem at all unusual, but if they were listening to thrash metal it would be thought very strange indeed.
While the nature and style of the music can cause specific responses in the brain (funky music compels you to dance, sad music makes you melancholy, motivational music makes you want to keep fit), some studies suggest that it really is down to personal preference. Music you like increases focus, while music you don’t impedes it. Given the extreme variation in musical preferences from person to person, exposing your workforce or classroom to a single type of music would obviously end up with mixed results.
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Music also has a big impact on mood – truly bleak music could sap your enthusiasm for your task. Something else to look out for is music with catchy lyrics. Musical pieces without wordsmight be better working companions, as human speech and vocalisation is something our brains pay particular attention to.
Video game soundtracks
Some people argue that one of the best music genres for concentration is the video game soundtrack. This makes sense, when you consider the purpose of the video game music: to help create an immersive environment and to facilitate but not distract from a task that requires constant attention and focus.
Limitations in the technology used for early games consoles meant the music also tended to be fairly simplistic in its melodies – think Tetris or Mario. In a somewhat Darwinian way, the music in video games has been refined over decades to be pleasant, entertaining, but not distracting. The composers have (probably unintentionally) been manipulating the attention systems in the brains of players for years now.
There are signs that, as technology progresses, this type of theme music is being abandoned, with games producers opting for anything from big orchestral pieces to hip-hop. The challenge will be to maintain the delicate balance of stimulation without distraction. To achieve this, games composers will need to stay focused. Which is ironic.
Dean Burnett’s first book, The Idiot Brain, all about the weird and confusing properties of the brain, is available now in the UK and the US.