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How to make the perfect study playlist

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

There is a lot that goes into ensuring a productive study session; the right setting and environment, lots of texts, books and organized notes, significant amounts of caffeine and so on. However, there are few aids more important than picking the right studying music. 

Music can get you in the right headspace, drown out background noise and even pump you up helping to push you through that last chapter during a late-night cram. On the other hand, the wrong music can be an impediment to your focus, bogging you down with the wrong tempo or distracting you with its lyrics or catchiness. 

Putting together the right study playlist, one that is tailored for the right subject or study type, can potentially make or break your studying. 

To help you through this process, we at the Brock Press have gone through the trouble of providing you with some suggestions for your study music.

Jazz and Classical

Often when you are studying, you need to minimize your distractions so you can hone in on whatever material you’ve been assigned. For this reason, sometimes it’s best to choose music that has no lyrics. This is where jazz and classical music can be particularly helpful. Though you can’t go wrong with most classical, some jazz can have lyrics (like Ella Fitzgerald or Chet Baker) or can be distractingly uptempo (like bebop), so it is important to choose wisely if you would find that distracting. I like to listen to jazz music when I’m working with subjects that require a lot of memorization and concentration, like the sciences. These genres also work well when you have got to do a lot of readings. Streaming platforms like Spotify have curated playlists like “Coffee Table Jazz” which work well. Some artists to check out for studying: Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, and Sonny Rollins.

Hip Hop Beats

If you want something without lyrics, but coffee table jazz or vocal-free classical aren’t your speed, lo-fi hip hop beats are also great. It may be a cliche, but they work well. They are also a little more up-tempo than most jazz or classical. All streaming platforms will have some version of a curated lo-fi hip hop beats playlist. Also, Nujabes is an artist who has a sound very influential to lo-fi hip hop,  and though some of his work does contain rapping, he is worth checking out if you’re interested.

Video game soundtracks

Some studies show that video game soundtracks are very effective for studying. This is because the music in these are designed to encourage and motivate you through in-game challenges while blending into the background without distracting you. This can function the same way for your studying challenges. This music would work best for assignments and when you need to complete something rather than learn it, such as solving math equations or completing computer science assignments. Some suggested soundtracks would be HALO, Paper Mario, Animal Crossing, or Legend of Zelda: 25th Anniversary Orchestra. These can be found anywhere from streaming platforms to YouTube.

Folk and Other Low-Key Lyrical

If you want something with lyrics that isn’t overly distracting, there are a lot of great folk, indie and singer-songwriter options that fit the bill. This type of music can be a good alternative as these genres often involve calming music, keeping you engaged in your studying. This might be a good choice for more informal studying, busywork so to speak, or when the material doesn’t demand much attention but is high in quantity.

Personally, I like Bon Iver, Phoebe Bridgers, Lizzy McAlpine, Sufjan Stevens, Faye Webster, Clairo, Mac DeMarco and Dijon for studying.

Though we have made many suggestions, ultimately everyone will benefit from different types of studying music. However, a safe bet is to pick music that is calming, does not interfere with your concentration or that keeps you energized, but most importantly music that you can enjoy while being able to study effectively.

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