What’s Your Study Soundtrack?

–Megan Cole, Reporter 

Nearly everyone listens to music. Some people prefer certain genres, while others are open to anything and everything. But what kind of music is the best to study to? Finals are approaching and students everywhere are preparing. This typically includes stocking up on plenty of snacks, taking well-deserved Netflix breaks, and of course, listening to lots and lots of music.

In fact, music keeps us focused, motivated, and awake. According to Stanford School of Medicine’s recent research, music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions, and updating the event in memory. Music has also been found to lower cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) and anxiety more effectively than most drugs do. Apparently music not only makes us feel good, but provides many physiological benefits.

This explains why music is of great importance during the most stressful week of the semester: finals week. As students settle in to the stress that comes with the end of the semester, we asked students what kind of music they recommend for studying.


Many students find instrumental, lyric-free songs the most helpful when focusing.

“[Music with] no words [is] important,” said senior instrumental music education major Jonathon Cason. “Because then I’ll sing, and not study.”

Classical music and other relaxing movie-soundtracks were recommended several times by many MC Students who preferred study music with no lyrics. Among these recommendations were The Piano Guys, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Mozart, and other classical composers. The most popular composer named was Hans Zimmer, a German film composer and music producer. Zimmer has composed music for over 150 films, including various film scores such as The Lion King, Interstellar, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. This means many students are probably more familiar with Zimmer’s work than they realize.

In addition to the well-loved movie scores and classical movements, students’ study playlists represent a variety of genres. There are many popular platforms to listen to music as well, which include Pandora Radio, Youtube Playlists, iTunes, and Spotify. Here are some of the most popular MC student recommendations and some tips as you prepare for finals.

“Hardcore rock ‘n’ roll and metal rap.” – Chris Fisher, sophomore chemical physics major.

“Post-Rock. It’s instrumental, no words. Long. Beautiful. It’s good for sleeping and for staying up, as it provides enough stimulation to keep one aware. My favorite choice is ‘Godspeed You!’ by Black Emperor.” – Joshua O’Neal, senior English literature major.

“Pretty much just whatever comes up on my Christian station on Pandora, but I especially like the Afters and Sidewalk Prophets.” – Joy Rittenhouse, freshman biology medical sciences major.

“I don’t study to music, but I’d imagine ‘Living On a Prayer’ would be good.” – Alex Dougherty, senior chemistry medical sciences

“I listen to classical, relaxing music during the studying. No words. Every ten minutes I take a break and listen to a pop song. When the song is over, I go back to homework.” – Jessyca Bryan, senior English education major.

“Elvis Presley, all day every day.” – Kristi Ralston, junior elementary education major.

“Christian rap.” – Jonathan Poe, sophomore Christian studies major.

“Instrumentals, ABBA, and indie!” – Casey Clark, senior art major.





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