If you are reading this, it means you are either
Student type A
A super enthusiastic student whose already so prepared for final assignments and exams that you decided to take a quick break and learn some new ways to improve your already well-structured study regime.
Student type B
You have woken up from your 20-minute power nap and somehow it’s week 11, your tutors keep reminding you how close exams are and so now you are desperately finding any possible miracle to get you through the next few weeks of hell.
Either way, take some time now to learn how classical music can help you concentrate, remember better and ease those study stresses.
Research has found that specific classical pieces with a 60 beats per minute (bpm) pattern are the key to studying at your greatest potential.
This unique rhythm has the ability to “entrain” the brain to physically and mentally come in sync with the music which when in conjunction with the act of studying activates both sides of the brain to work simultaneously, maximising the capability to learn and retain information.
Professional musician, composer and high school teacher Tony Toppi, explains that “when your body hears the even, one beat per second of music, your heart rate and pulse relax to the beat. When you are in this relaxed, but alert state, your mind is able to concentrate more easily.”
“When we are studying we are straining ourselves with heavy mental work causing our pulse and blood pressure to rise. This leaves us hyper-alert and makes it more difficult to concentrate and remember.”
“BUT CLASSICAL MUSIC IS SOOO BORING”
The voice of students around the world
Everyone has heard of Mozart but is it really in your favourite playlist on Spotify… probably not. British conductor, Benjamin Zander knows that too and in his 2008 TED talk he explains to the crowd of 1600 that “anyone can learn to love classical music once they allow their minds to open up to it.”
From 6-year-olds to street kids and rappers Zander has personally witnessed the impact classical music can have on someone “once they start listening.”
A life changing moment as a conductor and teacher for Zander occurred in Ireland when a reckless teenager told him
“My brother was shot last year and I didn’t cry for him. But last night, when you played that piece, he was the one I was thinking about. And I felt the tears streaming down my face. And it felt really good to cry for my brother.”
What has this got to do with studying? Well, Zander at that moment made up in his mind that classical music is for everybody.
That means you too.
A number of academics since the seventies have used students of all ages to see how they respond to the sound of classical music. What they found is that students listening to Mozart and certain Baroque pieces (recorded at about 60bpm) ‘felt calmer, could study longer and had a higher rate of retention, as well as earning better grades according to their teachers.’
According to The Center for New Discoveries, learning potential can be increased a minimum of five times by using this 60 beats per minute music.
For those learning another language, this is the extra bit of help you need. A renowned Bulgarian psychologist, Dr. George Lozanov, designed a way to teach foreign languages in a fraction of the normal learning time all by including classical music in the background during classes.
His system involved using certain classical music pieces from the baroque period which follow the 60 bpm pattern. His students ended up being able to learn one-half of the vocabulary and phrases for the whole school term (around 1,000 words or phrases) in one day. The average retention rate of his students was 92% making it one of the most successful ways to learn a language.
If only I had known this during Year 12 Italian
As a child, Albert Einstein did extremely poorly in school. His principal told his parents to take him out of school because he was “too stupid to learn” and it would be a waste of resources for the school to invest time and energy in his education. The school advised that his parents look for an easy, manual labour job Einstein could do as soon as possible.
Instead of following the school’s advice, Einstein’s parents bought him a violin in which by 13 he had fallen in love with not only the instrument but the technicalities of the music as well.
This ended up being the key to helping Einstein become one of the smartest men who has ever lived. He himself said that the reason he became so smart was because he played the violin and listened to Mozart and Bach regularly.
Just like Zander, Toppi admits one of the biggest struggles with introducing classical music to students is making it interesting.
“If you are not exposed to instrumental music from an early age, learning to enjoy listening to it on your own accord is often the biggest challenge, but there is enough evidence now to prove that classical music does work and it would be crazy for students, especially University students to not to try it in their own study regime.”
“Any music streaming site provides a large range of beautiful classical mixes. Youtube, Itunes and Spotify make it especially easy by already creating the playlists for you, so all you need to do is choose which one you like.”
It is recommended to choose a playlist or track that plays for at least 30 minutes as this will keep you totally focused on your work, with no distracting ads or sudden silences.
If you want to see what classical music can do for you, here are some great introductory playlists to help kick start your new study regime and make sure to let us know if this theory works for you.