Most of us like to put on some music playlists when studying, working or doing chores. But what is the best music to listen to while doing such things? What music helps us be most productive?
While the “Mozart Effect” has pretty much turned out to be a myth, music can still help you be a better version of yourself. But depending on who you ask, it can also be a drain on your working memory, and maybe hinder you (Perham, qtd. In Cutler).
In any case, studies suggest it’s probably better to listen to music without lyrics (Fox and Embrey). The theory behind this is that spoken lyrics will activate the speech center in your brain and this could possibly hinder how much information you take up. Those same spoken lyrics could also, just in general, distract from the words you are reading as we are more or less programmed to respond to human sounds. The most important thing through all of this is, find what works for you.
Just the presence of a more or less constant sound can help prevent your mind from wandering as much as it usually does. Here are a couple of sound files and playlists for studying to help you get going. Some of these are not really playlists but long compilations or sound files, but they serve the same purpose.
Fun fact: Music is commonly used in psychological therapy for several means (source: Mendability).
Disney piano melodies
This beautiful Disney compilation might just be your thing! Recognizable but not quite as intense and bombastic as the movie originals, this calm piano might help you get along with your tasks. The nostalgic feelings may help calm you. Disney nostalgic, calm, could help you calm down if you are anxious by taking you back to probably less worried times in your life.
Piano music without lyrics is already quite helpful to some, but because of the nature of the sound you may need something extra. For some, this something extra is a bit of white noise, such as rain.
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Piano + rain
This is a long version of a calm melody on a loop with rain in the background. Because it is a fairly long melody, the repetition is not very – or barely – noticeable. This can help you into a “focus” setting without distracting by a constantly changing tempo. The rain in the background can act as white noise, drowning out noise from your surroundings.
In the same way rain might, water sounds are both regular and irregular. They provide a filter through which other sounds may pass more difficultly. It can help you focus by filtering out other sounds that might distract you.
White noise playlists
It is an almost indescribable sound that is a little bit like a buzz or a hum. It often helps people sleep, but in this case it can really help you focus in general.
Why this works is unclear, but in a poll we conducted on our Psych2go tumblr, café ambience noises did really well. It may have to do that it’s very non-threatening. Perhaps it’s related to feeling like you are part of a group, and therefore safer. In that way is may help your brain get into a mode in which it doesn’t have to pay attention to other things, just the work. Why do you think café ambience sounds work so well?
Other ambience noises
What do you think about a nice Hogwarts Express themed ambient noise? Let the cadence of the train drown out your distractions and help you work on your tasks.
To recap, putting on music or white noise can help you drown out other distractions. If the music or white noise is too varied or too intense it may serve as a distraction instead, so be careful as to which you pick.
Do you know any other sounds or playlists for studying that work? What else would you like to see on psych2go?
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Fox, J. G. & Embrey, E. D. “Music, and Aid to Productivity.” Applied Ergonomics. 1979:3(4)
Cutler, David. “Don’t Listen to Music While Studying.” Edutopia. December 2013. Retrieved June 2018.