Music can be a filter, according to BYU-Hawaii students, which allows them to separate themselves from the outside world as they try to study. Each person may have a different taste in music, but by training themselves and recognizing their response to certain music styles, a student could associate a specific music genre to which will allow them to study more efficiently on particular school assignments and other responsibilities.
Music and the individual
“I really do love listening to music,” shared Emily Barr, a sophomore from Minnesota studying biology education. “Depending on the music I’m listening to, it'll help me focus on my studies, or more specifically, the readings I do. I think it is about focus and helps their brain realize, ‘Oh, this is what I’m supposed to be doing now.’
“As soon as the right song comes on, my heart rate goes down and I’m hyper focused, even if I’m doing something that doesn’t require attention.”
Music is a motivation for students, such as Josh Hansen, a sophomore from Utah studying computer science. He shared how it helps to push him to finish what he’s doing and pumps him up. “I feel more excited to do something that’s not really fun, like studying. I find [my music] depends on what I am studying. If it’s a paper I am writing, then I will listen to rock or rap, but if I am doing math, then I listen to soundtrack music, because I need to focus closer on the math itself.”
Most of the music Brandon Chan, a senior from Malaysia studying biology, listens to is as described by him to be “more of a chill-vibe music; the kind of music you would listen to at a coffee shop, jazz, instrumental, acoustics. Find a medium that would help [you] to study. For some it’s a low level of white noise and chatter, some prefer complete silence, and some prefer loud music playing, so it differs with each individual.”
Music can help others to focus
Chan shared how listening to the right type of music helps him focus, especially when there are people around him, He said music can help drown out the outside noise and help you focus on what you’re doing, but just as he would not listen to music when he’s trying to read from a textbook and understand the material. A certain assignment might persuade a student to listen to a particular type of music.
Sharing those same ideas, Eric Shane Munton, a senior from California studying accounting, said music allows him to focus his attention when he has a lot of reading to do. “I cannot listen to music with words. However, other unimportant assignments allow me to listen to music I like, such as John Mayer or Young the Giant. It has to be the right kind of music. I like listening to Jazz because it’s not distracting. There are no words. Music with words or that tells a story makes it difficult for me to focus.”
Music training and study tips
Not everyone listens to music when studying according to Barr who said some people might think music is too distracting. “I had to train myself to listen to music. I do other things while I listen too, for example: calm rap, because it is upbeat enough to keep me awake, but calm enough where I don’t put all my focus on it.
“Train yourself to listen to music all the time. I’m not kidding when I say this. I learned to listen to different types of instrumental music, based on my assignments. I trained myself to listen to certain music based on certain tasks. I listen to music at least 10 hours a day. I suggest music without words and without big movements because if it’s kind of mellow, it is pretty easy to tune out. It’s all about finding the right music for you.”
When confronted with a constant workload, Hansen counseled to “switch up the places where you study, and switch up the people you study with, just focus on what you are doing and remember it’s almost over.”
Barr also shared advice that has helped her study habits. She said, “I’m really big on getting enough sleep and making sure you’re hydrated and not distracted by other things. Whenever I’m studying, I make sure my phone is on silent and in my backpack. If it is next to me and I see a notification, I’ll think, ‘I need to check that,’ when it can wait.”