Illustration by Marissa Espiritu

Best Music for Studying

The best music genres to keep your schoolwork on track

By Samantha Storrey, Contributor  

Although some may argue that listening to music while studying is distracting, many have realized that it can help them focus and aid their memory during exams. Some students may find it challenging to curate a playlist that improves their study habits rather than distracting them or encouraging procrastination. That is why I have rounded up the best music to listen to while studying.

1. Classical Music

This music is optimal for engagement. It lacks words and although that is usually a turn-off for most people, it actually engages your brain and forces you to focus on what you’re studying. The ability of this music to help you remember what you’re studying is called “The Mozart Effect.”

2. Movie Soundtracks

These are my go-to tracks for studying. They keep me entertained and provide me with the endurance needed to keep reading and studying. This specific kind of music is more fast-paced than the classical options. Some of the more popular soundtracks that I think students can find beneficial include: “Interstellar,” “The Lord of The Rings,” “Harry Potter” and ‘Inception.” Fantasy and sci-fi movies, in general, seem to have the most popular soundtracks for studying. They also lack lyrics but still have motivational upbeat sounds.

3. Broadway/Opera

These are two very different genres of music, but since they are considered “stage” music, I paired them together. This music is great for people who absolutely need words in songs to find music enjoyable or entertaining. Still, when students choose to listen to this music they should be aware of the possibility of distraction occuring. Who wouldn't find it hard to listen to iconic music without singing along with your favorite characters? Caution should be used when hitting play.  Some great examples of Broadway and opera tunes are “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Wicked,” “L’Orfeo” and “La Boheme.”

4. Indie Music

This is pretty calming music, usually with a basic melody and constant rhythm, so no crazy riffs or crescendos. This is great for students who prefer an alternate route of relaxation, rather than upbeat, energizing musical numbers. Indie music also assists people with extreme test anxiety, it calms you down and helps you stay focused on the now rather than panicking about the exam in the future. Some of my recommendations include “Bon Iver,” “Portugal. The Man” and “Youth Lagoon.” This music is really great, just be sure to pick some of the calmer bands for studying, so you can jam out after you pass your exams.

5. Ambient sound

This is extreme. This is the farthest you can go from any mainstream music genre; it is like a white wall of sound. Ambient sounds are for the students who just can’t study. These are the people that have to physically force themselves to sit down and study. This music is perfect for this audience. I would highly recommend wearing headphones while listening to this music because it fills your head and makes it feel like the whole room is surrounded by the sounds. The great thing about this music is you can choose what kind of vibe you are going for, whether it’s forest sounds or studying at Hogwarts (yes, that is a real thing). You can basically choose whatever you want, but it’s vital to make sure that it will help you stay focused.


No matter what type of music you enjoy, the point is to make sure that you stay devoted to studying and do not become distracted. Music, when chosen correctly, can help the brain process and remember a multitude of subjects. These genres are my recommendations but don't ever stop exploring different types of music and finding what works best for you.