best music to study with
Music can stimulate the brain in all the right ways. Source: Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

We know listening to music makes us feel great. Nothing is better than being in the zone, or in the right frame of mind, or boosting us to just run, benchpress or get our creative juices flowing faster. The same applies when it comes to the best music to study with.

As we learn more about how our mind responds to music, we can tailor our Spotify playlists better to different tasks. Maybe EDM works better for cross-referencing, lo fi fits reading better.

Johns Hopkins University researchers have done work on jazz performers improvising inside an fMRI machine to see which areas of the brain light up. They found that jazz musicians make unique improvisations by turning off inhibition and turning up creativity. 

This is on top of existing research that has found listening to music reduces anxiety, blood pressure, and improves sleep quality, mood, and memory. Other studies also demonstrate music activates the most diverse networks of the human brain.  

“If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool,” says a Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist (that’s a medical specialist focused on the ears, nose, and throat)

music to stimulate the brain

To keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listen to or play music. Source: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP

The vibrations that travel through the air get into the ear canal and are transmitted into an electrical signal. This then travels through the auditory nerve to the brain stem where it reassembles into what we know as music. 

Before you open Spotify, note that not all sounds are created equal when it comes to stimulating us in all the right ways when studying. Below we take a look at the best types of music to study with:

Binaural beats

This uses your brain’s natural ability to fill in sensory gaps through two different frequencies into each ear (through headphones). It causes the brain to detect the difference between the two and create its own frequency. 

Isochronic tones

This is a single frequency turned on and off at a rapid pace (you don’t need headphones for this). Research on this has shown that the brain functions at its prime during the silence between the sounds which is why drum beats are so entrancing. 

Meditation music

Not only is this a popular type of music to stimulate the brain, it’s also great for destressing. Getting into a state of meditation will lead your body into calmness which will help tackle the tough assignments — we recommend daily meditation (HeadSpace and Calm are our favourite apps) for overall better performance in school.

Nature and rain sounds

It’s been shown that nature sounds relax our nervous system. This could be through sounds of the rain, ocean waves on the beach or even the jungle.  

Classical music

The Mozart Effect is a famous method used to study. Why? Listening to classical music when you study arouses your brain to focus. There are also several studies done where students listening to classical music did better on quizzes than students with no music. 


This is where video games and movies come in. Video game music is designed to keep you absorbed and focused — which is also great for memorising. When your brain is focused on just melody, it’s taking a break from trying to break down lyrics of a song and thus increases your performance. 

Feel-good music

If you’re one of those lucky ones who can concentrate on music with lyrics then why not create your own playlist? Or play one to dance during your study breaks — we highly recommend this.

Using your favourite feel-good tunes will not only get you in the mood to complete your tasks (from studying to working out) but it will also give you a little boost of energy while engaging your brain. Queen is a good candidate for an uplifting playlist!