Playing music while prepping for an exam or writing up a spreadsheet has proven to be a favourite method for students and workaholics all over the world. Music provides background noise that can carry us through complex thought processes and keep our minds engaged while we focus for long periods of time. Many people even report that it allows them to alleviate anxiety levels and promote a calmer, more productive headspace.
But which style of music is most beneficial for mental concentration? The answer lies in several popular genres that people can use to foster healthier focus environments and reduce stress levels.
Classical music has an international reputation for being both harmonious and structured, allowing listeners to synchronise their thoughts with the symphonic sounds of a sophisticated musical piece. The lack of voices or words additionally reduces distraction and promotes the enhancement of complex brain activity.
A study done on US economic students writing an exam while listening to Beethoven and Chopin (both historic and prolific classical composers) resulted in 18% better performance than those who took the exam without music.
While this may not fit into the category of stereotypical “music”, the sounds of nature have become an incredibly popular studying tool for people all over the world.
Whether it’s the sound of rain falling, forest birds and wind, or waves rolling into the seashore, ambient natural sounds produce a dramatically calming effect on the mind that allow even the most frenetic thinkers to become pacified. Listening to natural sounds can be additionally used to help anxious individuals enter a meditative state or fall asleep quickly.
Though the study and concentration audience is significantly smaller when it comes to this genre of music, those who do belong to it, swear it’s as good as the biggest casino bonuses.
Instrumental techno and electronic music is often very fast-paced and intense, which some people say helps them to get into a zone of concentration they aren’t able to enter through listening to gentle music. The BPM (beats per minute) of most techno music starts at around 120 – 125, making it double the resting heart rate of your average adult.
The uniting aspect of all three of these very different music genres is the fact that they do not traditionally include any human voices. The sound of voices singing, talking or otherwise can easily become a distraction as the brain attempts to hear and dissect what is being said, ultimately pulling the mind out of a focussed state and into a scrambled, untidy one.
That being said, it is important to note that all people may experience these music styles differently. Where one person finds classical music a great supporter of concentration and clarity, another may find it overly complex and difficult to endure. The same can be said for any of these genres – at the end of the day, each to their own.