Can the Right Type of Music Help You Study?

Can the Right Type of Music Help You Study?Please welcome back Jennifer Warren, attorney and Academic Achievement Coordinator at Oklahoma City University School of Law, to discuss how the right music could help your studying.

Whether you’re in the middle of a marathon outlining session or just trying to get through the next reading assignment, maintaining your concentration can be a struggle at times. Distractions from family, friends, work, and social media, as well as our own tendency to procrastinate difficult tasks, can all impede our ability to stay focused. Academic success in law school requires consistent effort and concentration, so finding ways to stay productive throughout the semester is crucial. If your usual strategies for getting through your to-do list aren’t working, you may be ready to try a more unique approach to staying focused.

Two services, Brain.fm and Focus@Will, are offering specially engineered songs and musical compositions that they claim will sharpen focus, improve retention, and generally enhance your productivity. We’ve all had experiences where a particular song has influenced our mood, but can the right type of music also help you study?

The Services and Their Claims

Brain.fm provides “scientifically engineered” music that they claim can influence brain activity and enhance focus, relaxation, or sleep. Using research into auditory neuroscience, Brain.fm created an algorithm to generate music that will trigger specific cognitive states. The theory is that different cognitive states are underpinned by specific neural patterns and that these patterns can be influenced by music. Thus, the original compositions available on Brain.fm are specially engineered with precise rhythms, notes, and sounds to help your brain enter into a deeper cognitive state.

Focus@Will offers a similar service and claims that their music will instantly quadruple your productivity. Using their own research, Focus@Will has engineered songs that are supposed to enhance your executive attention and prevent habituation to your environment, thereby improving your focus, productivity, and retention. Like Brain.fm, Focus@Will’s music includes original, specially engineered songs. Focus@Will believes the key to increasing productivity is to occupy the brain with just enough novel stimuli at just the right times so that you don’t succumb to distraction. In their study comparing music designed by Focus@Will and music selected by the test subjects, the Focus@Will listeners showed an increase in brainwave function at the end of a lengthy reading session, suggesting greater levels of attention and focus. A survey of their users also claims that there is a significant increase in focus time while listening to the music.

So How Exactly Does This Work?

For entering a more focused cognitive state, Brain.fm recommends that you use high-quality headphones and set the volume at a comfortable level. Make sure the volume is not set too low – you need to be able to hear the music clearly. Then, simply select a song from the library and start reading, studying, or working on an assignment. On Brain.fm you can select songs like “Nightsound Focus,” “Thunder Relax,” or “Wind Sleep,” depending on which cognitive state you’re seeking to enhance. Similarly, Focus@Will offers over fifty channels with songs like “Water,” “Drum Zone,” or “Acoustical.”

They encourage you to listen for at least fifteen minutes and incorporate the sessions into your daily routine. Some people may only enjoy listening for 30 minutes to an hour, while others may listen for much longer. Apps are available for both services so you can listen wherever you happen to be studying. The end result should be that you enter a focused, “flow-like” state, where you are less distracted and more productive.

Is it Worth a Try?

Definitely! The songs offered by services like Brain.fm and Focus@Will are unique arrangements and may not be appealing to everyone. If you’re someone who likes to read or study in complete silence, the songs may not be for you. But, since both companies offer you the opportunity to try out the service for free, it’s worth seeing if their music enhances your concentration and productivity. In law school, where you have to engage in lengthy study sessions and examination periods, sustained focus for long periods is a particularly valuable commodity, so it’s worth seeing if the claims made by these services hold true for you. While both companies have research to back up their claims of increased focused and productivity, the only way to know if it will work for you is to give it a try. You may find that these unique musical arrangements are just what you need to improve your productivity.

Check out these articles for more helpful advice:


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About Jennifer Warren

Jennifer received her B.A. in Politics cum laude from New York University and her J.D. with highest distinction from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She has several years of experience in the areas of juvenile law and civil litigation and is the Academic Achievement Coordinator at Oklahoma City University School of Law.

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