Choosing the Best Music for Studying

Anna Naumovychreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process11 min
Created: Aug 30, 2023Last updated: Jan 24, 2024
The Best Music for Studying

Ah, the sweet symphony of studying! We've all been there, searching for that magical melody that fuels focus and ignites our learning prowess. But have you ever put on some upbeat tunes to get energized for studying only to find yourself dancing around your room an hour later with no work done? Or tried to play classical music to focus but got so bored you almost fell asleep on your textbook? 

Finding the best music to listen to while studying can be a challenge. But fear not, fellow language learners! In this article, we're diving deep into the realm of study soundtracks and uncovering the best music for supercharging your study sessions. Luckily, there are some proven tips on how to create the ultimate studying playlist. From brain-boosting beats to genre preferences, we've got you covered.

How Music Impacts the Brain for Better Studying

Imagine stepping into a world where every note enhances your cognitive powers and transforms you into a productivity dynamo. That world exists, and it's backed by science! Music has the incredible ability to evoke emotions and elevate your mood, making you not only happier but also more efficient in tackling tasks. Here's how good studying music gracefully elevates your gray matter.

  • Dual-Hemisphere Activation: Music stimulates both the logical left hemisphere and the creative right hemisphere of the brain simultaneously. The left hemisphere handles logical tasks like problem-solving, while the right hemisphere thrives on creativity. When both dance together, your brain enters a symphony of balanced productivity.

Studies using EEGs show that when we listen to music, the left and right hemispheres synchronize with each other more closely. This bi-hemispheric integration creates whole-brain thinking - marrying logic and creativity to optimize learning, focus, and performance. So whether you're crunching numbers or brainstorming ideas, music helps unite both halves of your mind for peak mental processing power.

  • Increased Blood Flow: The rhythm and melody of music orchestrate a captivating show within your brain. Research reveals that listening to music increases blood flow to various regions, stimulating neural connections, providing improved oxygenation, and fostering an environment primed for learning.

Interestingly, making music can enhance brain blood flow even more than listening. During musical improvisation, blood flow increases in brain areas linked to creativity, self-expression, and reward. Giving your brain a musical workout delivers an extra dose of "mental nutrition" for ultimate brain power!

  • Heightened Focus with Instrumentals: While lyrical tunes carry stories, they can sometimes hijack your focus. Instrumental music, on the other hand, offers a seamless flow of auditory delight without diverting your concentration, making it your go-to choice for focused study sessions.
  • Enhanced Cognition: Research shows that background instrumental music can enhance episodic memory as well as overall cognitive performance, including working memory and processing speed. But lyrics can pull focus, so instrumental music works best.

Influence on Emotional State

Music also impacts your overall state of mind. A melancholy melody after a breakup might leave you too depressed to work. On the other hand, a cheerful pop song could provide the energy needed to tackle even the most challenging calculus problems (hello, dopamine!). The key is finding good music for studying that aligns with your needs, cultivating an optimal mental state that promotes laser-like focus.

  • Mood Elevation: Remember how your favorite song instantly brightens your mood? Music has the enchanting power to tug at your heartstrings, evoking emotions that can transform the grayest of days into vibrant adventures.
  • Feel-Good Dopamine Release: This is a "feel good" neurotransmitter. Upbeat tunes are the maestros of dopamine release. As you listen to the best study music, your brain rewards you with surges of pleasure, motivation, and productivity, turning mundane tasks into enjoyable escapades.

How Can Music Help Us Focus?

Picture this: you're delving into your study materials, and the right tune starts playing in the background. Suddenly, you're on a motivation high, your energy levels skyrocket, and you're breezing through your to-do list. Here's why:

  • Elicits Positive Emotions: Ever noticed how your productivity soars when you're in a great mood? Research confirms that happy people tend to be more productive, and the right music can be a mood-lifting magic wand.
  • Makes You Feel Upbeat: Mundane tasks can feel like a breeze with a happy melody in your ears. Elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary with the right tunes.
  • Drowns Out Other Noise: The endless symphony of sniffles and shoe scuffs in crowded cafes and open office spaces is enough to make anyone yearn for a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Annoying distractions fading into oblivion? Yes, please! With the right headphones and music, you can kiss disruptive noises goodbye.


Can Music Really Make You More Productive?

The harmony between music and productivity is a nuanced dance. While some studies champion background music for enhancing cognitive performance, others disagree. The effectiveness of background music hinges on factors like personal preference and whether lyrics are present. What works for you might not work for another – it's all about your unique groove.

Some research shows music can improve focus, while other studies suggest it has no effect or can even be detrimental to concentration. Background music with foreign or unknown lyrics seems to be least disruptive.

Personal music taste also plays a role. Studies found workers were more productive listening to liked music versus disliked music or no music at all. Uplifting, positive tunes tend to provide the biggest productivity boost by elevating mood and motivation.

The key is to experiment and see what background soundscape works for your unique personality and cognitive style. And don't be afraid to change your tune if something isn't working. Find the rhythm that keeps you cruising through your workload in harmony.

Exploring Diverse Study Music Styles

Now, let's examine the array of study music styles that could be your secret sauce.

Binaural Beats

These rhythmic sounds synchronize brain waves for heightened focus and relaxation.

Binaural beats use the power of auditory illusion to entrain your brainwaves to a desired frequency. Listening to theta wave beats (4-7 Hz) can induce deep relaxation, while beta waves (15-30 Hz) boost alertness and concentration. Binaural beats leverage your brain's natural flexibility for ultimate focus.

Isochronic Tones 

Like binaural beats, these precisely spaced and pulsating tones entrain brain waves using auditory stimulation. Isochronic tones turn the volume of sound "on" and "off" via rhythmic pulses, producing powerful effects on cognition. Try tones between 14-40 Hz to enhance focus, information processing, and memory.

Meditation Music

Peaceful, ambient tunes promote mindfulness and lower stress—perfect for digesting complex concepts. The relaxed focus induced by genres like New AgeZen, and Tibetan meditation music can help improve comprehension and recall.

Nature and Rain Sounds

The relaxing sounds of nature soothe the mind by providing a comforting, familiar backdrop devoid of distracting lyrics. The following sounds can lower stress and enhance focus and creativity:

Listening to the soothing rhythms of mother nature transports you to a tranquil headspace perfect for absorbing information.

Classical Music

The timeless choice for enhancing cognitive performance. The structured beauty of classical compositions by greats like Mozart, Bach and Beethoven can enhance learning, focus, memory and spatial reasoning. Lively baroque works or solo piano sonatas provide energizing background sound without strong pulls on attention. While avoiding grandiose symphonic scores that could divert your focus, consider embracing these brain-boosting selections:

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – “Piano Concerto No. 23 in A”
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – “Salzburg Symphony No. 1” (‘Divertimento in D major’) 
  • Frederic Chopin – “Mazurkas, Op.24: No. 3 in A-Flat Major”
  • Antonio Vivaldi – “Four Seasons”
  • James Horner – A Beautiful Mind (A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics) 
  • Chopin – Etudes. 

Mozart Effect

The Mozart phenomenon postulates that engaging with Mozart's music can potentially lead to a transient enhancement in scores on a specific segment of an IQ assessment.

A study found college students performed better on spatial reasoning tests after listening to a Mozart sonata versus relaxation instructions or silence. This suggests classical music may prime the brain for heightened cognition due to its organized patterns and 60 beat-per-minute tempo. Harness this effect by playing Mozart or similar baroque composers while studying.


Rhythm without the distraction of lyrics – perfect for deep focus.

Songs without lyrics allow you to tune everything else out and channel all mental energy into the task at hand. Movie soundtracksvideo game music and jazz instrumentals by providing energizing beats without pulls on cognition that lyrics can cause.

Feel-Good Music

Happy tunes for an injection of positivity into your studies.

Upbeat songs enhance motivation and efficiency by stimulating the brain's reward centers and improving mood. Create a personalized playlist of feel-good favorites to add a productivity-boosting emotional lift.

Expert Tips for Choosing the Right Music

The ultimate DJ of your study session? You! While experts and studies offer suggestions, the best music for studying is deeply personal. Follow these steps:

  • Create Your Own Playlist: Experiment with different genres and styles to curate your personal study soundtrack. Try instrumental, classical, binaural beats, soundtracks and more to find what works.
  • Consider Volume: Loud music diverts mental resources, so keep it at moderate background levels. Investing in noise-canceling headphones can help block distractions.
  • Change It Up: Don't be afraid to switch genres or artists if something isn't optimizing your productivity. Variety keeps your brain engaged.
  • Review and Adjust: Take breaks and evaluate your retention. If the music enhances your memory and focus, keep grooving. If not, tweak your playlist.
  • When In Doubt, Turn It Off: If you find music hampering your concentration, don't hesitate to turn it off and opt for silence. Do what works best for your cognitive style.

The beat of optimal studying is different for everyone. Experiment to find your personal groove, and you'll be rocking your exams in no time!

Music to Avoid for Optimal Study Sessions

As we embark on our musical journey, it's essential to avoid music that hijacks your focus. Heavy metal might be your jam, but its energetic nature might pull your attention away from your tasks.

As fun as blasting Black Sabbath might be, avoid music with aggressive lyrics for studying. best Best songs for studying with positive lyrics boost mood and motivation best. Creating a customized playlist of your favorite instrumental study genres will get you in the zone fast.

To optimize your concentration, keep the volume moderate—loud music diverts mental resources. Also, consider noise-canceling headphones to eliminate outside distractions completely.

Create Your Effective Study Playlist

Finding the right background music to enhance your concentration is equal parts science and art. Experiment with a variety of genres and make adjustments until you strike sound gold.

Act as the conductor, compiling a customized playlist that makes your brain sing. Include energizing instrumentals, soothing nature soundscapes, brain-boosting binaural beats or whatever audio fuels your fire.

Remember, everyone has unique preferences and responses to types of study music. If epic movie soundtracks send your focus soaring, queue them up. If heavy metal riffs rock your research world, crank your playlist to eleven.

Review your retention regularly and switch up any songs that hit a sour note. The key is finding what motivates your mind, not what worked for someone else. So pick up the baton and orchestrate an optimal study soundtrack that makes you perform at your peak!

Learn Languages with Promova 

Harnessing the power of music is just one path to effective studying. For comprehensive English instruction tailored to your learning style, Promova offers English courses for BusinessTravel and more. Learn from our expert tutors in one-on-one online lessons, or join our free English speaking clubs to practice conversational skills. 

If you prefer self-guided studying, our convenient app for Android and iOS features bite-sized lessons and quizzes. Whatever your musical preference, Promova can combine engaging learning methods, expert teaching and an adaptive platform to hit the right notes for your academic success. 

Explore our harmonized approach to mastering English - from Beginner to Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate, Advanced, and Proficient, we'll help you orchestrate a personalized learning symphony.

Take our free placement test to determine your English level. Then, our tailored learning program designs English lessons, resources and activities matched to your specific skills, goals and interests. Like a melody crafted just for you, our personalized instruction ensures you receive the right content to help you progress at the best pace. Let Promova compose your customized path to English fluency.


In the grand symphony of learning, the best music for studying is the one that resonates with you. From the enchanting allure of classical compositions to the soothing whispers of nature sounds, the right tune can elevate your learning experience. So, fellow language learners, put on your headphones, curate your playlist, and let the melodies of knowledge guide you. And remember, as you navigate the melodies, Promova is here with expert courses, a variety of languages to study, and a symphony of support to elevate your learning journey!


What's the best music for studying?

The best music to study to varies from person to person. Experiment with genres like classical, instrumentals, or nature sounds to find your study groove. Instrumental music without lyrics is often best for studying, as it enhances concentration while blocking out distracting noises.

Does music help you focus while studying?

Music can indeed help enhance focus for some individuals. Research shows it activates both sides of the brain and can also improve cognition, memory and mood. Upbeat instrumental tunes trigger positive emotions and can drown out distracting noises, creating an optimal study environment.

Can any music be distracting while studying?

Yes, certain music genres with energetic beats or complex lyrics can divert your attention from studying. Opt for calming instrumentals or soothing nature sounds.

How do I create my study playlist?

Experiment with different genres and styles to curate your perfect playlist. Review your retention during breaks and adjust your playlist accordingly for optimal results.

Should you listen to music while studying?

It depends on the individual. Some people concentrate best without any sound, while others find music helps them focus by blocking distractions. Experiment to see what works for you. If music is distracting your learning, ditch the playlist and aim for quiet.

What kind of music is bad for studying?

Music with aggressive, negative lyrics can negatively impact your mood and ability to focus. Very loud or dramatic, soaring music can also divert mental resources. Avoid anything that could potentially pull your attention away from the task at hand.