While some of us enjoy the occasional Tupac or Biggie Smalls song, listening to your favorite music can be distracting while reading a book or writing your latest research paper. Rap, country, and pop feature catchy tunes with lyrics that our brains process, even if we are not singing along.
Remarkably, even classical music, especially soundtracks can produce the same processing. For example, John Williams produced some fantastic Star Wars pieces, but it remains difficult to hear them without thinking about the scenes of the movies featuring the music.
Yet, many of us must have some noise in the background. If you must, consider some ambient tracks or even white noise. These should be sounds that remove the deafening silence, yet are unfamiliar to you.
For some upbeat ambiance a good place to start is Pandora or Spotify. Search for “Global Communication” and create a radio station from it. This will give you endless hours of wordless tracks featuring energetic music that isn’t overbearing. If you do not have a subscription, there is the occasional commercial, but for just a few bucks a month, those go away (Pandora is $3.99/mo and Spotify is $4.99/mo).
If you have an apple device, then you have access to Generative Music apps, which create unobtrusive, entrancing musical sounds on the fly. These are soothing and become part of the background while you work.
Finally, if you do not want any music, then there is nothing more soothing than the sound of rain.
Whatever you use, considering cutting back on lyrical music, freeing your brain to generate its own thoughts, as you read books and write your papers.
By Scott Manning
Online Learning Tips, Student Contributor