Student Life

The Best Study Music: What to Listen to While Studying

Get five suggestions of music genres to listen to while studying. Plus, learn why music can help you focus.

Shawna Newman

August 11, 2023

The Best Study Music: What to Listen to While Studying
Have you heard of the Mozart Effect?
When it is time to focus, there are a few things that will help to ready your mind, and promote memory and retention. Before you begin your study session, be sure you have fueled your body with healthy snacks. This helps to get your brain in the...right state of mind. Ensure your study space has limited distractions. Your desk or study room should be filled with tools that will encourage concentration. To help, consider listening to music while you study—the right music choice can boost your overall productivity level and provide the motivation you need.

The Best Study Music

The following types of music are recommended for studying, along with tips to help you choose which genre will keep you most focused on your objective – studying.

  1. Classical
  2. Listening to Classical music is known to be both peaceful and harmonious, creating a calm and serene study environment. It is often referenced as one of the best studying genres for students because listeners report side effects like better mood and increased productivity—often referred to as the Mozart effect. Try listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #3, or the Spotify playlist Study Classics: Bach.

  3. Timed Tempos
  4. Studies have shown that music timed at 60 beats per minute can help put people’s minds into ease; putting brains into a more productive mode where thinking and creativity are easier. According to Music in the Classroom, “...it helps regulate the brain's rhythm, regulating the movement and improving impulse control, which balances the very specialized powers of the left and right hemispheres.” Try it out with a 60 Beats per Minute Classroom Music playlist.

  5. Instrumental Ambient Sounds
  6. If you prefer a more modern flair, a combo of instrumental music and electronic may be the perfect option for you. Relaxing sounds of instruments can be paired with modern tunes to get the best of both worlds. The Vitamin String Quartet (VSQ) Study playlist includes fun renditions of the popular song Running Up That Hill and even cover music from Netflix’s Bridgerton series.

  7. Nature Sounds
  8. This type of “music” is perfect for those not so into classical music. It’s known for increasing concentration levels and keeping the listener’s mind engaged at a more subconscious level. It also can be very calming, which is why many use it to help with meditation and to fall asleep. What falls into this category are soundtracks of nature, like waterfalls, rain or the sounds of the seashore rolling in. Add the Exam Study Nature Music Nature Sounds playlist to your next study session.

  9. Modern Electronic
  10. Modern electronic is also commonly referred to as “chill” music. The genres include Ambient House, Ambient Trance, New Age and Trip Hop. They are known to relax the mind, encouraging it to roam. Be careful not to let it roam too much, however – you want to stay focused on the task at hand! Set the right study vibe with the Spotify playlist, New Age Mix.

Top Music Artists for Students with High GPAs

Recently, College Rover released survey results that featured types of music as well as which artists students listen to most when studying. Based on the data, College Rover was also able to attribute high GPAs to specific artists. If you want to improve your GPA, this is who you should be listening to:

10. Tyler, the Creator

Tyler, the Creator is a rapper who has won two Grammys for his work, one in 2020 and another in 2022. He was also part of the music collective, Odd Future.

9. Rihanna

Rihanna is regarded as one of the most prominent musicians of the 21st century. She covers a wide range of genres, including pop, rap, reggae, and hip-hop. Her fame skyrocketed even further after performing in the 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show.

8. Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar is a rapper who has won a Pulitzer Prize for his music as well as numerous other awards. Lamar is considered a progressive artist who makes a major impact with his socially conscious songwriting.

7. Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande is a pop and R&B singer who got her start in television at age 13. Grande has amassed an enormous social media following and is the most-followed female artist on Spotify.

6. Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac is a surprising addition to this list; however, their ranking proves their music’s ability to transcend time and generations. Though they haven’t produced new music in quite some time after the passing of several band members, their 1977 album, Rumours, made the top 10 Billboard in October 2020.

5. Post Malone

Post Malone is a singer, songwriter, and rapper. Though he’s known mostly for his music, he’s also famous for his love of tattoos. He currently has 79 tattoos, some of which cover his face.

4. Harry Styles

Harry Styles began his music career in 2010 with the band, One Direction, which was one of the best-selling boy bands of all time. In 2017, Styles began his solo career, and in early 2023, he won Album of the Year at the Grammys for Harry’s House.

3. SZA

SZA is an R&B artist that has been nominated for multiple Grammys, one of which she won, as well as a Golden Globe and Academy Award. Her debut album, Ctrl, became the second longest-charting R&B album by a woman ever on the Billboard 200.

2. The Weeknd

The Weeknd is a singer songwriter who covers a variety of genres, like pop, R&B, hip-hop, and dance. While he is one of the most famous contemporary musical artists, headlining a Super Bowl halftime show as well, he began his music career posting anonymous recordings of his songs to YouTube.

1. Taylor Swift

Are you surprised to see Taylor Swift at the top of this list? She’s arguably the most popular artist in the United States right now, and she’s preparing for world domination through the international leg of her Eras Tour. Listening to her music spurs students to earn higher GPAs, according to the College Rover study. So, if you want to earn an A on that next paper or ace your next exam, maybe give T. Swift a shot?

How to Use Music to Help You Study

It can be a challenge to stay away from listening to top hits and singing out loud if you choose to use music for studying. Selecting the wrong type of music can distract you from your studies and become counterproductive. Consider the following pointers when you are using music to help you study:

Keep your volume in check.

Make sure that your background music is not distracting you or any of the students around you. Keep loud music minimum so that the study level is at a maximum.

Plan out your playlist.

Don’t wait until the time you have set aside for studying to create a playlist. Create it in your downtime so that, when it’s time to study, studying is the only task at hand and all you need to do as far as music is concerned is press play. If you forget to plan or don’t want to create your own playlist, The Study Music Project has its Lofi Music Project playlist on Spotify.

Include frequent breaks.

Plan your playlist so that, when it ends, it will be an indication that it’s your break time.

Understand that studying is more important than the music.

Avoid spending hours creating your playlist. After all, it should essentially just become background noise. What you should ultimately focus on is your studies. Listening to music is calming, leading to more conscientious studying, elevating your mood, motivating you to stay focused and studying for longer periods of time. What is most important is that whatever you are listening to does not distract you, calms you and truly puts your mind into study mode so that you can be productive and retain as much information as possible. Whether you listen to any of these recommendations, Nicki Minaj, Harry Styles, or whatever else, it really does not make a difference. Listen to what works for you.

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Shawna Newman

Managing Editor, Contributing Writer

Shawna Newman is the Managing Editor and a writer at Fastweb. She has over 10 years of experience in higher education. Her direct work with college admissions teams, financial aid officers, college deans, ...

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