What better way to procrastinate about studying than with an article about studying. And music.
In any case, the final week is upon us, and that means a barrage of exams. Everyone has their own study habits, and going through the pros and cons of each would merit a much longer article. In any case, people tend to find study techniques that work best for them; there’s no single magic approach that guarantees success (though time management is useful, even for the inveterate procrastinator).
So instead, I though I’d focus a little on the kinds of music I study to. Study music is a matter of personal taste, but being from a musical background I get asked the question reasonably often.
To be honest, I tend to flip between three types of music depending on the mood and the kind of work I am doing.
Trance/Drum and Bass
This is such an extensive genre that selecting some favourite playlists is hard, but here are a few options:
Psytrance (Songza playlist)
Drum 'n' Bass Workout (Songza playlist)
This kind of music is especially good for work involving writing/typing or math heavy stuff. The rhythm locks you into a wave of productivity. In fact, I’m listening to some as I write this.
3am Airport (Songza playlist)
Blue Sky Black Death - NOIR DLXE
Some favourites are:
Brian Eno - Music For Airports
Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV
Psybient (link goes to Youtube search - there's hundreds of playlists)
Philip Glass - Violin Concerto #1, Movement #2
Finally, I might just mention one study technique that I use that people have noticed before exams, and that’s my “pre-game ritual”. Just like you see with athletes before a competition, before an exam I usually have the headphones in, getting myself into a focused state of mind. I learned years ago that trying to study in the last half hour before the exam produces diminishing returns, and so just shutting off for that period gets me relaxed and ready.
The piece that most often gets played at this point is the Kyrie movement from Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Mass in G Minor”, a piece I have had the honour of performing as a soloist some years back. It’s stunningly beautiful, opening with a quiet alto line, and successively building to full choir, shifting to a solo voice sequence, then the chorus reappears, building again to full power, before dissipating, finishing with the same alto line from the beginning fading into nothingness. There’s an inherent symmetry to the work that is mesmerising and calming.
Just what’s needed before the chaos of a final exam.