September 19, 2011

Studying and music: a good combination?

In this post I want to talk about something a bit in general: Listening to music while you’re studying. I always work better with music playing, but it all depends on a few factors that I’d like to tell you about.

Firstly I should tell you a little bit about my studies. The last couple of years I’ve studied Italian, which meant that a lot of the texts I had to prepare or assignments I had to do were in Italian. Basically, in all the courses I took there were three languages that were used in texts, during classes and for essays and stuff: Dutch, English and foremost Italian.

There are within my studies a few, let’s say, categories of things to do. Firstly there’s reading the texts to prepare you for lectures, secondly there’s writing assignments and essay and last but not least there’s studying for exams. In all these three contexts the music I listen to has to meet some requirements. The only thing that is true for all three is that when I’m reading or writing Italian I shouldn’t listen to Italian music, unless it is something I know very, very well, ‘cause that’s too distracting. 
The most important reason that I listen to music is because it keeps me from being disctracted by all the other things around me, like screaming kids on the playground behind our house, trains and cars passing by and all the other sounds you wanna block out when you're reading!

Preparing for lectures
When I’m preparing for lectures I received all kinds of texts in the three languages I mentioned earlier (although I had to read a German or a French (!) text too from time to time). With this task I don’t have a lot of restrictions, except for the one I told you about above. Even what I call “new” music will do, ‘cause you don’t have to read all the texts very carefully to prepare yourself. New music for me are the artists I just discovered and the artists whose music I already know from the top40 and now want to get better. Most of the times I choose these “new” things, ‘cause I like discovering new kinds of music. But I do have my favourite oldies of course:

Destine – because the rockiness of their music makes me read faster – Jessie J – because her album is very divers and doesn’t get boring, never! – and Tiziano Ferro – because I know his music so well, that it doesn’t “bother” me that it’s in Italian.

Doing assignments and writing essays
With writing assignments it’s not a completely different scenario, but it’s not very productive to be listening to new music. Mostly because with the new artists I listen more intently to determine whether I want to really keep a song or delete it, whether I want to put in on my I-pod. But I don’t mind listening to English music when reading Italian or to Italian music when reading a Dutch text, so basically all the music that’s already on my laptop will do! Again, my favourites:

Raphael Gualazzi – nice balance between upbeat songs and ballads, and pretty jazzy but accessible – Paramore – for the same reason as Destine, but I really, really love Hayley Williams’ voice which makes it even more fun to listen to – and Amy Winehouse – all of whose songs I like very much and are suitable for almost every kind of assignment.

Studying for a test
This is the only instance where I really have more restrictions, ‘cause it entails a lot of concentration to really absorb all the information you need. That’s why, when I’m studying for an exam, I almost exclusively listen to those artists that I know very well. Most times I make a playlist of a few artists which I randomize. I already mentioned a couple earlier (Tiziano Ferro, Raphael Gualazzi, Destine, Jessie J, Amy Winehouse) but there are a few more I’d like to mention:

Katy Perry – Especially her new album! I almost know it by heart and I even catch myself singing along to the song while studying – Lady Gaga – for the same reason as Katy Perry – and Rihanna – again, it’s like with Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. (For me these three are the first ladies of the current pop music scene!)

So what are your musical habits? Do you listen to music while you're studying?