Facing the Music for Finals

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Facing the Music for Finals

Anushka Agashe, Staff Writer

Okay, guys, don’t freak out: finals are next week. As the end of the semester gets closer, most people are spending their time studying, and studying most likely means they’re also listening to music. But is listening to music really the best thing for your grades?

I’m not going to tell you that you have to do homework in silence for the rest of your life. However, I will say that research indicates that some kinds of music are more beneficial for learning and studying. Though the ‘Mozart effect’ (a term referring to the power of music to enhance intelligence) has been widely disproven, there are possible benefits to be gained by listening to music while studying.

For example, music can help students de-stress while doing homework, or even increase endurance by providing motivation or a mood boost. While that might seem like all the justification you need to keep listening to your favorite tunes while doing your schoolwork, music also has its drawbacks. Listening to music with lyrics can make you less efficient and less able to absorb information, and fast, aggressive songs can decrease focus.

There’s more at play, though. A study has shown that verbal reasoning is helped by background music, while abstract reasoning got worse. Additionally, music affected introverts and extroverts differently, harming introverts for abstract reasoning while showing no effect on extroverts.

The effect of music can also depend on what you’re studying. Though music might help improve your ability to do math, it can greatly hinder your reading and writing skills. This is because songs with lyrics use the language part of your brain — the same part that should be working on your English homework.

So what does all this mean? Basically, there are some general guidelines for what music is best for studying, but it depends from person to person. Music without lyrics, or at least without lyrics you understand, is ideal, since it doesn’t distract your brain from the words you’re supposed to be studying.

Additionally, music that is too aggressive can lower your focus, but music that’s too calming can put you to sleep. The key is to find a balance between music that keeps you awake but doesn’t put you in a bad or jittery mood.

So if I’ve just ruled out all the songs you listen to, what options do you have left? Worry not, there’s plenty of music out there to listen to while studying.


Movie Soundtracks

If you’re looking for lyric-less music, movie soundtracks could be a good choice. They’re created to enhance the movie without distracting from the action on the screen, and they can do the same for your homework or test review, keeping you focused and entertained enough to keep doing work. Though there’s hundreds of movie soundtracks out there, there are some that I love. The Theory of Everything soundtrack is perfect studying music. It transports you to the intellectual world of Stephen Hawking, and it’s both relaxed and a little whimsical. If that’s not your style, another soundtrack I love is the Doctor Strange soundtrack. It perfectly matches the magical, wondrous world of Stephen Strange, and it’s thrilling while lacking any lyrics that would make it distracting. If neither of those appeal to you, it’s more than likely that your favorite movies all have soundtracks you can listen along to while doing homework or studying.


Gaming Soundtracks

Listening to gaming soundtracks provides the same benefits as movie soundtracks, but it can have added benefits too. Playing video games involves solving puzzles and finishing quests, and you can’t afford to be distracted if you want to beat the next level. Because of this, gaming soundtracks are designed to keep you focused and ready to do your work. They are upbeat enough to keep you feeling accomplished, while adding tension to compel you to work. Here are some good options if this appeals to you: the soundtrack for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is eerie and powerful enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, even while motivating you to stay on that grind. The soundtrack for Halo is a little more modern-feeling, but it too is a great motivator while keeping the distraction level low. Again, if there’s a game you love playing, it likely has a soundtrack you can jam along to while prepping for finals.


Classical Music

I know. Classical music can seem boring. It isn’t 1760, after all. But really, classical music can be great for studying. It’s proven to have a positive effect on people, putting them in a relaxed, pleasant mood. Also, it rarely has lyrics, and if there are lyrics it’s unlikely that they’re in English. These are a few of my favorites: Holst’s The Planets is great studying music, because it’s dramatic and interesting enough to keep you on track, but it lacks the aggression and lyrics that can distract you from studying. If you absolutely can’t give up lyrics when you listen to music, Schubert’s Ave Maria is a good option. Again, it’s much more exciting that you might expect classical music to be, and you can’t get distracted listening to the lyrics since the words are in Italian.








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