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Studying With Music With the mp3, the iPod, and now Spotify, students throughout the world are plugged in and turning up the music for personal and even group study sessions. For years researchers have been analyzing what music best aids the study and information retention process. Results of these studies are as varied as the subject itself. With so much conflicting information, how are we supposed to know how to best boost our brain power?

Classical Music is Best‌ Right? The most commonly accepted answer to this frequent query is that classical music offers your brain the most optimal stimulus, allowing for maximum performance in memory and retention. Composers like Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven are among the most popularly recommended as the soundtrack for your study session. Frequently the benefit of classical music for studying is given to the lack of lyrics or vocals and the mathematical nature of the music. Most studies involving classical music show that study participants experienced an increased ability to retain information and tested better than participants who were not exposed to classical music prior to testing.

Genre vs. BPM As popular music has evolved from classical through jazz, blues, and the big band era, Motown, Rock & Roll, Disco, Hip-Hop and now Dubstep, each genre has effected its own generation of students. But if you want to listen to music with lyrics, does it matter what genre you prefer? Some studies show that genre is considerably less important that the tempo of the song, otherwise known as BPM or Beats Per Minute. One recent study by clinical psychologist Dr. Emma Gray in cooperation with the popular music streaming service, Spotify, indicates that any music, regardless of genre or style can be utilized as ‘study music’ as long as it falls within the 50-80 bpm range. Songs within this tempo range create a relaxed environment for the brain, allowing for better creativity and performance.

Distractions and Diversions


Regardless of the music you select for your study session, one thing is certain. Distractions are the number one reason for failure to focus and a lack of concentration. Obviously, the music you choose to listen to while studying can be effective in helping you retain the information you need for your next test whether you’re studying for a math exam or your anatomy final for your nursing degree. But what matters most is that you create a space for studying that is distraction free. If you find that you are consistently distracted by the music you have chosen to play during your study session, change it up. When classical doesn’t cut it, jam to some jazz, or ramp it up with some rock & roll. Keep in mind that eliminating the distractions in your music could be as simple as turning down the volume. And if all else fails, try studying in silence for a while. At the end of the day, when you’re in college, what matters is passing the test and making sure that you’re able to keep that information with you to use as you embark upon your chosen career path after graduation.

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Studying With Music