The Ultimate Study Buddy: Music (from the Odyssey)

written 03/2012

A week has passed since Spring Break, and chances are you have been very unproductive from reminiscing about all the great memories you just made. Well there is no need to worry because there is a solution to your lack of motivation to study: MUSIC.

A study developed by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found a link between the acts of listening to music and learning. The studies show that music activates areas of the brain that make predictions, pay attention and commit details to memory. However, they discovered that only part of the music produced the results. Dr. Vinod Menon, the study’s senior author, noticed that your brain functions best just after, or in between, intense musical movements.

A recently published book, called The Mozart Effect by Don Campbell, has collected and summed up all of the world’s research on the benefits of studying while listening to certain types of music. The book highlights one study from the University of California, Irvine, which shows that studying to certain types of music raises IQ scores 9 points. Another study shows that music raises performance levels and productivity by reducing stress and tension, masking distracting sounds and contributing to a sense of privacy.

It is important to point out that most of these studies were done using classical music such as Baroque and Mozart with a tempo of around 60 beats per minute. For example, Dr. Georgi Lozanov, the renowned Bulgarian psychologist, developed a style for teaching foreign languages using Baroque music with beat patterns close to 60 beats per minute. The research shows that students using certain Mozart and Baroque songs felt more relaxed, were able to study longer, retained information at a higher rate, as well as earned better grades according to their teachers. Dr. Lozanov suggests this is because the songs reduce your blood pressure and pulse rate and increase your learning capacity at the same time.

If classical music is too outdated for you, there are other musical genres to use while studying, such as “Chill out” music genres like Trip-hop, Nu jazz, Ambient House, Ambient Trance, New Age and other sub-genres of Down tempo. Ambient sounds such as rainfall, crashing waves, and wind are good alternatives, as well. My personal favorite is the Instrumental Hip-Hop radio station on Pandora. Another Pandora station you might want to use is Ovals, created by Pandora employee Michael Zapruder. Another site worth checking out is, which offers free streaming music and a Smartphone app. Playlists to try out are Drone Zone and Secret Agent. Other sites to check out are and

Everyone has different music preferences, as well as study methods. My proposition to you is to find the music preference and study method that coincide the best so that you will be motivated to study longer and more efficiently. Good luck!


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