“Is it the fingers or the brain that you’re teaching a lesson?”

After a couple of weeks of committing most of my time to trying to get interviews for internships, going to info sessions, and generally neglecting my school work, I made a conscious decision to spend more time focused on catching up on reading assignments.  Now when it comes to studying, I’ve found there are two groups of people; those who study with music, and those who study without.

I myself am a huge music fan.  I have a collection that is very eclectic.  Some might call it snobbish, but I really try to give all genres of music a fair listen and for various reasons, I generally don’t listen to many top 40 artists.

When it comes to studying, I always have music playing.  I only have two rules for what I listen to when I’m studying.  It either has to be instrumental, or if it has lyrics, it must be something to which I have not learned the words.  If I know what the artist is singing, it takes my focus off the assignment.  That is really the whole reason I like listening to music, it keeps other noises out so I can pay more attention to what I’m reading.

All that leads me to the point of this post.  I wanted to list some of the music that I listen to the most when doing homework.  So in no particular order, here is a list of a few artists I’ve been listening to lately.

The Budos Band – The Budos Band II

The Budos Band II

This album is surprisingly one of my favorites of the past few months and has translated well in my study habits.  I never heard of this band before they received decent reviews on Metacritic.com.  There is very little variation throughout the record. The entire album sounds like 1970′s movie and TV show themes, or an album made to be sampled by J-Dilla or Danger Mouse.  A lot of horns, funk style bass lines, and great energy for studying.  It’s uptempo enough to keep you awake through the occasionally boring reading assignment.

Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins

A friend of mine tried to get me into this group years ago but it was never something that I liked much.  I ended up with their discography thanks to him, but it just sat there for a long time.  One day a couple of weeks ago they popped up in iTunes as I was studying and it was a great combination of non-lyrical vocals and spacey synthesizers.  It was excellent background music and has been making a regular appearance in my educational playlist.

DEVO

DEVO

Another band which I was far behind some of my friends on.  I’ve only just recently reached back in their catalog.  Until a few months ago, the only DEVO I knew was, like most other people, ‘Whip It’.  Since I don’t know most of the lyrics yet, it still fits my criteria for good study music.  The post-punk/pre-new wave sound is great for a little energy after more mellow music, which most instrumental stuff tends to be.

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

It’s not because he made an album named for my home State.  I have been a fan of his since his first album.  I haven’t gotten his newest record but I’ve heard nothing but good things and look forward to hearing it.  I love his songwriting and the instrumentation that he uses.  I broke my own rule here though because I know the lyrics to his songs, but his music is so conducive to an afternoon of studying that I had to include it on the list.

So that is just a sample of the kind of music that I’ve found helps me get through a Sunday afternoon of studying.  There is a ton of other music that cycles in and out of my playlist, but these seem to be the regulars lately.

So if you are reading this and, like me, you enjoy music while you study, feel free to share your favorites in a quick comment.  I would be interested to see what others listen to while studying.


3 Responses to ““Is it the fingers or the brain that you’re teaching a lesson?””


  1. 1 Rachel October 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Nice post! Definitely worth checking out. I rediscovered Devo after Mark Mothersbaugh showed up on Yo Gabba Gabba. Haha.

  2. 2 Kathleen Newell October 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

    i’m one of those folks who needs it to be quiet when i study, but i’ve found that listening to world music is a great solution. when you don’t know the words they’re speaking, it’s easy to not get distracted by the music :)

  3. 3 Kim Hill Jr. October 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    I agree on the world music comment. I have an album from a group called Tinariwen that I really enjoy. They are a group from Mali who have a really interesting mix of traditional West African music and American blues. Plus they sing in their native language which makes it good for studying.

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