Exam tips: Music you can listen to while you study

PLUGGING in and listening to music is one of the most common methods students use to ease themselves into studying. Hieu Chau offers his recommendations from his own study playlist. 


When it comes to studying and doing homework, students everywhere devise their own special study methods in hopes of acing any upcoming essays, assessments or exams.

One of the most common study supplements to accompany students while they’re cramming is music.

Some students prefer to create an entire playlist dedicated to helping them ease into studying with what they consider to be cool, relaxing tunes.

Of course, the definition of relaxing differs from person to person as people will naturally respond differently if they’re given music outside of what they already enjoy.

That being said though, here are a few recommendations from my own playlist that I’ve found to be incredibly useful when it comes to work and study.

Film soundtracks: Ready-made mixtapes!

As a self-professed lover of films, I can’t shy away from film soundtracks. They’re a top resource to me and oftentimes you’ll find that great films have great soundtracks.

I could list a large number of soundtracks to recommend, though my top favourites that I find great to study with include the soundtracks to Last Life in the Universe (Thailand, 2003), All About Lily Chou-Chou (Japan, 2001) and In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong, 2000).

Collectively, they’re all quite soft, easy-listening and most importantly very ambient – perfect to send you into a studying state of mind!

I’d also recommend the soundtrack to The Social Network (USA, 2010) and the soundtracks to pretty much all of Studio Ghibli’s films.

Japanese DJ/Producer, Nujabes

Nujabes, has long been a favourite of mine. His music – an amalgamation between jazz, classical and hip-hop – is incredibly infectious and great to set you up for a day of hard work.

Ambience is an important part in creating a good study environment and with the lounge quality of Nujabes’ music, I’d say his easy-going beats have the strong potential to help other students study.

If you’re a fan of Nujabes, Cult Classic Records is another place to look for similar music as most, if not all, the artists associated with that music label are influenced by Nujabes in one way or another.

A language other than your own: Sounds from Korea

Oftentimes, I find that if I try to work or study to English-language songs, I lose my train of thought and forget what I was meant to write as different words and lyrics get placed into my head.

Studying in a language foreign to your own helps, I feel. You don’t get muddled in your train of thought or misconstrue readings because you won’t understand what’s being said.

While Korea’s known for its K-Pop, I prefer to listen to the dreamy music of Korean indie band, Bluedawn. Their brand of soft and moody music is lovely and soothing, perhaps even inspirational.

Another Korean group worth listening to during your study is Clazziquai Project. Like Nujabes, they have a strong lounge sound, occasionally dabbling in a bit of jazz and pop.

Australian music: Lisa Mitchell, Sarah Blasko

Wanting a more local Australian flavour? Maybe try listening to a bit of Lisa Mitchell or Sarah Blasko.

Both singer-songwriters have a similar style with their music and even have similar singing voices at times. Their music can be described as being on the fringes of folk, alternative and indie.

With their relatively soft voices, these two talented Aussie artists are great at easing you into a massive workload with their light tunes.

An honourable mention also to Angus & Julia Stone who are also great as far as creating ambience in your study environment.

Electronic sounds: Chromatics and Electric Youth

More of an electronic music person? Consider listening to Chromatics during your next study session.

Electronic music doesn’t necessarily mean dance music and Chromatics are proof of this. Their brand of hypnotising electronic sounds and rock can be described as mellow – a more than suitable accompaniment of music to study with.

Similar to Chromatics is Canadian duo, Electric Youth. Both groups were featured on the soundtrack to 2011 film, Drive, and bring electronic sounds of the ’80s back into a modern context with their easy-to-listen and relaxing tracks.

Do you have your own music playlist specifically made for studying? What are you listening to on it? Who do you recommend? Sound off in the comments section below!

There is one comment

  1. Catherine

    Also recommend checking out the apps for personalised radio stations that you can choose ‘mood’ or genre such as Spotify, Rdio, Pandora etc.
    If choose well it can give you some fresh music which you are less familiar with, hence less chance that you would be singing along and forget about study 😀
    I’m in love with Lorde radio channels at the moment as the music is funky and upbeat.

Post Your Thoughts