A Guide to Finding Your Perfect Study Music

When I was in high school, I had a peculiar way of studying. I would sit in a spinning chair, listen to rap music on full volume, and enter the zone. Now in college, the style and seriousness of my work has changed and with that, the music I listen to while working has changed. With that in mind, here are some music ideas while you get your homework done, no matter what type of work you have to tackle.

Flashcard Writing: Jazz or Upbeat Hip-Hop Instrumentals

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Writing flashcards can sometimes be a little mind-numbing. Terms blend together and your mind begins to wander. You think to yourself, “Does this term even matter,” “When am I ever going to use this information,” or “Is this going to be on the test? Like, how can you even ask a question about this?” But while you are writing the flashcards, the most important thing is getting them done. That’s why you need something upbeat that will keep your mind actively going and your energy rising.

Nothing raises your energy like some sporadic jazz. Jazz is the musical equivalent of randomness, with instruments seemingly coming out of nowhere and solos that keep you guessing how everyone manages to be on the same page.

Upbeat hip-hop instrumentals serve the same purpose. Interesting hip-hop beats find a way to use hi-hats, snares, samples, or unexpected synths to give you a natural stimulant. Most recently, while writing flashcards for a legal studies class, I listened to instrumentals from El-P’s “Cancer 4 Cure.” By the time I finished the industrial hip-hop opus, I had finished three chapters while keeping my mind active.

Textbook Reading: Chill Indie Music

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Unlike writing flashcards, textbook reading requires a calm, white noise background. Nothing is a better representation of white noise than indie music. While indie music varies based on the artist, a lot of indie music sounds good while also being easily digestible.

My two albums of choice for textbook reading are “Carrie & Lowell” by Sufjan Stevens and “22, A Million” by Bon Iver. “Carrie & Lowell” is a smooth, acoustic-sounding album by the great Sufjan Stevens that is not only an excellent addition to your discography, but also provides a calm and reassuring background while you grind through chapters.

“22, A Million,” on the other hand, is a much more experimental project that uses a lot of very interesting song structures. That being said, the songs blend into each other very cohesively, making it great background noise.

Banging Out A Paper: Classic Rock

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Like flashcard writing, writing a paper is all about your stamina. Getting your paper done depends on being able to write without getting distracted. On the other hand, you need the structural background that you hopefully have while reading a textbook.

This makes classic rock the best choice for writing a paper. You want your music to be consistently good and to provide a backbone to prevent any possible procrastination. My go-to albums are “Rumors” by Fleetwood Mac, “Hotel California” by the Eagles, or the Dire Straits’ self-titled album.

Talking Out Terms and Concepts: Chill or Lo-Fi Hip-Hop Instrumentals

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This should be a given. While talking out terms, lo-fi hip-hop instrumentals (or other chill beats) sounds good while fading into the background as you maddeningly try to talk out the legal terms of entering into a contract.

Some great song choices include “Controlla” by Idealism and “Daylight” by Matt Deguia. Additionally, Brock Berrigan’s “The Narrows” or simply searching through ROMderful or WUNDERWORLD’s Soundcloud pages should provide you with great choices.

Solving Math Problems: Upbeat Hip-Hop or Your Favorite Pop Songs

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Problem-solving is a lot more about establishing a rhythm than it is about cognition. Being able to look at a problem and use muscle memory to solve in equations is the only way to truly make sure you understand it.

When you’re completing these problems, above all else, you want to make sure you don’t tire out. The best way to do this is by throwing on a new hip-hop album that everyone tells you goes hard. Boogie’s new album, “Everything’s for Sale,” is a great place to start. A collection of pop songs that you truly love is also a great solution. Just like how you somehow still remember all the lyrics to “Rather Be” after five years, you should be able to solve problems using little cognitive effort.

Midterms may stress you out, but your choice of music can ease the burden. Good luck everyone!

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About Robby Fineman

Robby Fineman comes from Newton, Massachusetts, to contribute to the music section of our Entertainment team. He is a Marketing major who has some DJ experience under his belt, specifically at Bar Mitzvahs.

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