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The Most Underrated Tip To Boost Your Study Sessions!

Mind Maps, active recall, ‘test yourself’…the list of study strategies is endless, and the journey to study effectively may seem daunting to many of us. However, I would like to share the surprising ‘study hack’ my father shared with me when I was in Secondary School. It was after failing my Mathematics test that I asked my father for tips on how to study better, to which he simply replied, “Gaming music”. At 16 years old, this seemed odd but he explained that for the majority, it may be easy to ‘switch off your brain, but not your ears’. Indeed, noise is a top distractor for many a studying session and hence having the perfect background sound as an accompaniment to your study is a surprising tip one may not think of off-the-bat. However, this is not the only benefit of studying with music! Music is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, increase creativity and improve cognitive performance. For the latter, this is because music activates both the left and right brain, which can increase focus as well as trigger memories. Ever wonder why it is so easy to remember song lyrics? This is because our brains look for patterns and rhythm, and over time listening to music trains our memory ability. With all these advantages, it’s no wonder Spotify is so popular among young adults!  In this article, I will share the top music genres among for studying, including what makes them so unique!

Genre #1: Gaming Music

Source: Halo Fandom

The soundtracks for video games are deliberately composed to increase the focus of the player, fading into the background as the player navigates through the different levels. Gaming music tends to be motivating as well, with a good bass line and rhythm, which can improve your mood and productivity levels. Furthermore, the soundtracks are created to be played over and over again, hence its tune is rhythmic but not boring and repetitive like some other genres of music. Its essence is to spur the player on, not distract them from the game, and this is what makes gaming soundtracks so effective for studying.

Here are popular soundtracks from video games that are great for studying:

Alternatively, you could do a quick Google search to find more music from these popular gaming soundtrack composers:

  • Jeremy Soule
  • Martin O’Donnell
  • Nobuo Uematsu
  • Harry Gregson Williams
Genre #2: Lo-fi Music

Source: YouTube

Have you heard of Lo-fi music before? When I was first introduced to Lo-fi music, my only qualm about it was that I had not discovered it myself sooner! Lo-fi (stands for “low fidelity”) music is a unique genre of songs that retains original elements of the performance or recording, that are usually regarded as ‘imperfections’. This could include distortions, background noise, and seemingly ‘random’ new sounds (for instance, the sound of rain) in the song. However, all of these blend together to form the perfect background soundtrack, and keeping such elements is a deliberate aesthetic.

The question now is, how can lo-fi boost our studying sessions? Scientific studies suggest that the human brain naturally picks out differences in sound, which is the reason why many of us may get distracted during our studying by a car driving past outside, or a random burst of noise from the next door neighbourhood. Studying in complete silence in bustling Singapore is difficult and hence what Lo-fi does is that it provides the necessary ‘differences in sound’ for our brains to focus on instead of external sounds. In this way, lo-fi smoothly increases concentration and some even describe lo-fi as the “soothing response to an anxious and burned-out world”.

Lo-fi music is commonly seen as an entire genre by itself nowadays, but actually it can be applied across pre-existing genres. For instance, there is Lo-fi jazz, Lo-fi hip hop and ‘old songs’ Lo-fi, meaning oldies music from the 1950-70s.

YouTube and Spotify have a plethora of Lo-fi playlists to pick from, many of which have extremely aesthetic thumbnails or album covers which add to the overall experience! Interestingly, Lo-fi is often associated with a particular character dubbed as ‘the Lo-fi study girl’. Created by Juan Pablo Machado for ‘ChilledCow’’s Youtube stream, one of the original Lo-fi artists who popularized the genre, ‘Lo-fi study girl’ has become the face of Lo-fi. Her short animation shows her in her vibrant room, headphones on, constantly studying to the beats of Lo-fi, a scene and pose that many of us can relate to. ‘ChilledCow’s Lo-fi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to’ livestream is still as popular as ever, and can be found on YouTube here. Other popular Lo-fi soundtracks that receive thousands to millions of listens, are listed below:

  • Lo-Fi beats on Spotify
  • Lofi hip hop beats – Focus Music, Chillhop Music 2020 on Spotify
  • 1 A.M Study Session – lofi hip hop/chill beats on YouTube
  • Old songs but it’s lofi remixes – vintage, retro, jazz-hop, lounge music on YouTube
Genre #3: Cafe Music

Source: Unsplash

Ever think about the classic ‘cafe’ music that you’ve heard countless times at Starbucks or Coffee Bean? Such music is usually a blend of jazz, Lo-fi, acoustic or classical music, designed to create a relaxing atmosphere for its customers. Such a relaxing yet lively and warm mood in the cafe definitely creates an ideal studying ‘vibe’, one that you can replicate at home! Here are some cafe music playlists you can check out!

  • Relaxing Bossa Nova & Jazz Music For Study on YouTube
  • Rainy Night Coffee Shop Ambience with Relaxing Jazz Music and Rain Sounds on YouTube
  • Your Favourite Coffeehouse on Spotify
Genre #4: Music with a Different Language

For some, the above music choices may not be appealing to their lack of lyrics perhaps for others, if lyrics are present, the music becomes distracting. In such scenarios, an option you can try is music of a different language! For instance, I find songs in English too distracting for intensive studying but instead opt for Japanese anime music or Korean drama soundtracks, known as ‘OSTs’. These types of music are great because they create the right amount of rhythm and musical tension that increases focus yet are not distracting because I do not actually listen to and understand the lyrics since I cannot actually process them mentally. Below are some soundtracks in Japanese and Korean, which are popular for studying among young adults, some of which are even combined with Lo-fi and cafe styles music!

  • Japanese Lofi HipHop on Spotify
  • 2 Hour Beautiful Anime Piano Music for Studying and Sleeping on YouTube
  • Korean OSTs on Spotify
  • Korean Cafe House on Spotify

Even if you are a non-gamer, or do not watch Japanese Anime or Korean dramas, that does not mean you cannot appreciate their music! Music was created to be appreciated by all, so don’t hesitate to try out new genres and styles of music! This exploration into finding the perfect study music is indeed a fun one, and one you can share with your friends as well! All in all, with the right music, studying can become a lot easier and much less boring. 

Bonus: What if I don’t like listening to music while studying?

If you prefer to study in silence but yet still find yourself getting distracted, why not try out the Pomodoro method. This is a time management technique created by Francesco Cirillo in the 80s – it splits time into various intervals, which are traditionally 25 minutes long, followed by a 5 minute break. Essentially, pomodoro is the interval of time spent doing work, and is the Italian word for ‘tomato’, named after the tomato shaped kitchen timer Cirillo used in university while studying. This timed structure of working increases concentration, since you know it will be followed by a 5 minute break and it also breaks down a long intimidating study session into smaller and manageable timeframes. Today, there are many aesthetic, cute and interesting phone applications that utilise this pomodoro method. For instance, Pomodoro Timer, Toaster Timer and Pomodor.

With this great variety of music out there, FamilyTutor, a private tuition agency in Singapore hopes you can find the perfect studying music for you and boost your studying sessions!

Maddy

Maddy

Maddy is an humanities undergraduate student and is passionate about learning and education, having been both a student and teacher herself. She hopes to impart practical advice and light hearted reflections around school life and studying, that can help you learn and grow in your education journey as well!

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