focus music
Source: Ina Fassbender/AFP

While we may prefer different genres of focus music, we can all agree that the right playlist has the magical ability to boost concentration. It allows us to zero in, drown out distractions, and get cracking on the task at hand. Now, you may be wondering: does this mean we can elevate brain power and creativity with the right music?

The short answer: yes.

It’s no secret that music activates the most diverse networks of the human brain. Research has even proven that people with ADHD focus better with the right music. Now imagine the possibilities students like you can unlock with focus music.

Finding the right key

At the basic level, each song is composed in a major or minor key. Pop songs, for example, are usually made up of major notes like C major and G major. On the other hand of the spectrum, you’ll find their minor counterparts A minor and E minor.

Why does any of this matter? Well, one University of Connecticut study found that the key of your focus music can influence your performance while listening to it. Undergrads listening to music in a major mode were able to complete tasks faster than those listening to music in a minor mode.

In other words, upbeat “happy” music is better for focus. This is because major-key music encourages brain activity more than minor-key music. At the same time, slower, minor-key music may be more suited to introverts or more complex tasks (which are clearly defined).

focus music

To focus, choose music in major keys. Source: Jack Guez/AFP

Why ambient and classical are the best focus music

With that said, choosing the right type of music can make or break your focus. For example, most people find it easier to focus while listening to instrumental songs — because following lyrics can be distracting. The same goes for songs with complex structures or arrangements.

For students, the right focus music should be tunes that allow you to absorb and retain new information.

Research has proven that classical tunes are the ultimate focus music. There’s even a term for this phenomenon: the Mozart Effect. Listening to classical music when you study arouses your brain, making it easier to absorb new information in a meaningful way.

Ambient music is another solid option for studying. This type of focus music sets a tone or atmosphere, allowing you to immerse yourself in it without much thought to song lyrics or structure.

So the next time you’re doubling down on revision or assignments, select a classical or ambient music playlist to be your companion. Even if these are not your preferred genres, your brain likes them more than you think.