Revising With Music

Revision and the sound of music

Everyone loves music. Many of us wake up to the sound of music and fall asleep with our favourite tracks in our ears. In this present day, listening to music on the way to school, uni or work is part of our daily routine. But what about music during revision time? Could some genres of music improve our concentration whilst studying or does music, as an external stimulus serve as a distraction?

Genre: There is plenty of evidence to show that classical music in particular is helpful during revision time as it can have a calming effect during stressful exam periods whilst keeping the mind alert. Studies have also shown that it can enhance memorization in the short term. Classical is not the only genre, however that people find relaxing – others may find that Pop, Indie, hip hop or rock music is their choice for a tranquil track. In contrast to this, others find music with faster, upbeat tempo to be motivational and enhancing of their creativity and productivity whilst studying.

Lyrics vs instrumental: With or without you? Again, this comes down to individual preference. Listening to your favourite tunes can often result in a private karaoke session (hopefully not in the library) which is why some people prefer instrumental or songs with unfamiliar lyrics. Experience is the best rule of thumb here. Are you still in exactly same place on the page as you were 5 minutes ago?  Could it be that your rendition of your favourite song is to blame?  Time to move on, minus the lyrical distraction. Lyrics and comprehension of language result in activity in the same part of the brain so if you feel like song lyrics are a hindrance, switch to some instrumental music.

Here are some helpful tips: Volume: it goes without saying that your concentration levels will not be optimal if the music you are listening to is too loud. If you are using headphones in the library, the person sitting next to you should not be able to hear it. Similarly if you are at home studying, you should not be getting noise complaints from neighbours! If you feel like you are flagging even after taking a revision break, try turning the volume down.

Playlist: Make sure you have a revision playlist to prevent you from manually selecting songs as this may distract you whilst studying, especially if you are shuffling through your music 10 times during an hour of revision.

Music is multifaceted and it has the ability to help or hinder us when we study. Music that prevents you heightening your concentration is not beneficial; whether you select the sound of silence to study or like listening to some stimulating background music, make sure it keeps your brain engaged with the task at hand- revising!

Revising with music is written by a Tavistock Tutor

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