Last week we talked about how different factors such as your level of expertise or song choice can impact how productive you are while rocking your earbuds.
But what if instead of making copies and sending emails, you’re turning pages and taking notes? How does music keep you going when it comes to studying and test preparation? The answers lie in the classics. And by classic, we mean classical. People often habitually lump classical music in with parents trying to put their infant children to sleep, but certain classical pieces are proven to have the opposite effect when coupled with a work-filled mind.
According to a study published by BMS College of Engineering (Bangalore, Malaysia), subjects reported dramatically decreased stress and increased relaxation after listening to classical music at 60 beats per minute, a BPM called larghetto, often associated with Mozart and the Baroque era. The precise tempo of 60 beats per minute simultaneously activates the left and right sides of the brain, maximizing memory retention while decreasing stress. Furthermore, according to Business Insider, music without lyrics is also known to increase productivity. This is because the more intelligible and poignant the words are, the more our minds may shift to trying decipher those words, instead of trying to decipher trigonometry equations.
A Bulgarian psychologist named Georgi Lozanov developed a system of accelerated learning called suggestopedia (suggestion + pedagogy) that sometimes coupled Baroque-era music with strenuous learning activities. In one study, Lozanov taught students a new foreign language for thirty days while playing them Mozart’s music. Students learned half of the whole term’s vocabulary and phrases within one day, with a reported average retention rate of 92% at the end of the term, and a recall rate of nearly 100% four years later. Pretty impressive results for a method that many psychologists have dismissed as pseudoscience.
Here are a few other factors to take into consideration when putting your headphones on at work or school:
- It’s best when the music is at medium volume. While it’s easy for a lot of us to immediately max the volume out and isolate ourselves from exterior distractions, higher volumes actually open our minds up to more abstract thinking, which can actually encourage distraction. It’s best to have the music at a comfortable moderate volume so you can still think.
- It can be beneficial to listen to a song you don’t really care about. Studies have shown that when we listen to a song we strongly like or dislike, we become more distracted by it. We focus on the idea of liking it/disliking it – the music becomes the cognitive epicenter instead of our work or homework. Maybe this is why Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlists work so well – they’re all new to us, so it’s easy to put it on in the background while the studying continues in the foreground.
The only thing left to do now is to test these methods out! Get back to work, and don’t be afraid to dive into the dense back-catalog of Mozart himself.
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