Music to Focus
Regardless of which floor of the library you’re on, you’ll unavoidably see many people studying with their earphones plugged in or headphones on. This is the way many people focus. I didn’t listen to music until I came to university, to be honest. During sixth form, we had a ‘common room’ for all sixth form students and whenever it felt like a little less quiet than acceptable, I tried my earphones but I disliked it greatly. It felt more like noise and plugging in noise to do what requires silence felt odd.
Nevertheless, I have found listening to music a great way to focus. Even on floor 2 where revising after 5pm becomes a struggle, music may just come to your rescue and enable you to get that assignment done. I am quite moody about whether I want to listen to music or not. Sometimes, even on floor 2 , I can very well focus and get my work done without music and at other times, I just want to block out all the conversations around me.
I think in the end it comes down to the level of noise in the surroundings. If I’m in the library at 9am, then I will have my music on because it is usually too quiet. I am one of those people who sometimes complain that it is “too quiet” to study.
Also, I find that I prefer a brownie from the library and dark mocha when I’m tired rather than music because then I cannot deal with earphones shoved in.
Going on the quiet floors of the library for me is an occasional trip rather than a habit. I probably am the distraction on floor 4 or 5 whispering the uncertainty principle to myself, and leaving after ten minutes because I cannot deal with the silence.
I also find that I need some noise around me otherwise the noise in my head overtakes. Sometimes I find myself writing one thing but having a conversation with myself about something completely different in my head. Music helps to silence my mind and usually I am focussed when I don’t realise which music is playing.
So, where you are, how tired you are, and the level of noise in the surroundings are some of the factors. Another one is the music itself. I spent my first year listening to songs limited to those by Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Adele. I would also listen to Ed Sheeran sometimes but not much but my favourite has to Swift! But, I am not so aware of the songs out there.
After attending a few Bhangra classes, Punjabi music began to appeal. Most songs mention ill consumption of alcohol, guns, toxic masculinity, caste system or are sexist so I stayed away from Punjabi songs altogether. The above-mentioned are real-time issues being faced by the Punjab and I always find it infuriating that the songs only serve to perpetuate the issues in the Punjabi community. But, after Bhangra, it all became a matter of counting the beats and listening to the instruments rather than the lyrics. I wouldn’t usually listen to Punjabi music while studying because I find it very energising whereas while studying I require the music to be calming. I stay away from Punjabi music now and only play it when I’m practicing my Bhangra (which has not been happening for months now).
Last year, I also listened to ‘RaW Music Madness’ online because one of the people on the show is a colleague of mine, another chemistry student. I came across it on Facebook and quite liked the songs they pick. It was additionally helpful that I didn’t know the lyrics of any of the songs so I couldn’t whisper along but afterwards I realised I cannot deal with lyrics at all.
Now I stick to instrumental music – Disney instrumental music and classical music. I would so greatly recommend it because it is so relaxing and there are no lyrics so you can’t sing or whisper along. With Disney, especially I enjoy instrumental music from Beauty and the Beast (one is my absolute favourite). It is so relaxing and only makes work a lot sweeter. Also, you don’t have to make a playlist for this music because you’ll find that most YouTube videos are 2-3 hours long and so you get non-stop music (except ads, of course).
I don’t know where this blog is going but it has been fun writing about my taste in music as someone who literally knows nothing about it. But over the years, I have noticed how and when I enjoy listening to music. I’m sure many people listen to music not for studying but for enjoyment (which is its primary purpose, after all) but I don’t really do that.
Music serves as another factor affecting our productivity when studying. I hope you enjoyed reading my take on music and I would certainly encourage you to spend some time making different playlists of different genres/ artists so you have your tools prepared for every mood and situation!