Finding the time and motivation to revise can be one of the most challenging parts of beginning university, often leading to burnout. But did you know there’s an easy way to release some of that stress? Plenty of students, teachers and even professors have turned to one thing- music.
It was found that around 60% of students tend to listen to music while they study. It was also voted to be one of the most popular “side activities” for teenagers. So regardless of if you’re studying for an upcoming exam, working on a project, or just wanting to brush up on your knowledge, music can make all the difference.
The Science Behind Music and Learning
The concept of using music to accompany studying isn’t new - in fact, for centuries people have reaped the benefits of this method. There’s been more traction on the impact of music on concentration, memory, and overall cognitive function.
In the realms of psychology and neuroscience, it was found that music helps with:
Enhanced Concentration: Music can help you maintain focus by reducing distractions. Calmer genres like instrumental tracks or nature sounds create a consistent auditory environment that can block out background noise, making it easier to concentrate on your work.
Mood Regulation: Finding and indulging in music you enjoy can help you manage stress and anxiety, creating a more relaxed state of mind, thus boosting your learning. Music can be away to escape, unwind and stop yourself from burning out.
Memory Improvement: This phenomenon is known as the "Mozart Effect," and some studies suggest that listening to classical music can enhance memory and cognitive performance. Pairing certain tunes with information will make it easier to retain.
Learning Associations: Trying to find a correlation between a song and a topic can be incredibly beneficial for information recall. Start by finding certain lyrics that you can pinpoint to certain facts, or even choose a song that’s easy to remember. When the time comes to revise or even in the exam itself, playing the song either in your head or out loud should prompt some memories to come back.
Choosing the Right Music for Learning
Although music is beneficial, not all genres help as much as others. Depending on what kind of study experience you’re looking for, you can alter your tune selection to fit your session:
Instrumental Music: No lyrics mean fewer distractions, so choosing backing music or instrumental versions of your favourite songs could be the better option. This means you can still enjoy the melodies, but you’re less distracted by other voices.
Ambient Sounds: Sometimes music itself can be too much to have on while working. But white noise, nature sounds and even ambiance noises can help fill any uncomfortable silence when studying.
Familiar and Non-Distracting: It’s better to stay away from songs you’ll be wanting to shout the lyrics to. Any songs that have a deep emotional meaning are also a big no go. Remember-you want the music to be in the background, and not clouding your thoughts.
Tempo and Beat: If you want a study ‘sesh’ with lots of high energy and motivation boosters, find speedy tempos and powerful beats. This’ll automatically put you into a faster pace to work at – like an intense HIIT workout. If you need to get in the zone to be creative, try slower, softer beats that are more melodic. The calmer the tune, the more your mind will be able to relax.
Personal Preferences: Ultimately, the best music for studying is what works best for you. Have a try with different genres and styles to find what helps you concentrate and enjoy the process! You might find some playlist saves along the way.
Music and Mental State
Music can be one of the most influential things for our emotions- it can turn moods in seconds which is why it’s so powerful. It’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in pressure when you first start higher education and find it hard to source a way to calm down. In a study conducted in 2011, researchers found that music releases a level of dopamine, known as the ‘feel-good’ chemical in your brain. Volunteers in the study were monitored and it was also recorded that their dopamine levels were 9% higher when they listened to music they liked.
Finding music to study to doesn’t have to be as hard as you think. Endless scrolling on playlists and skipping shouldn’t even factor in. Knowing what types of sounds you study best with is the key to mastering a successful study session.