Study to music that isn’t Mozart

By Krystyna Serhijchuk, Columnist

Most students usually get ready to study with a stack of books and a laptop equipped with playlists curated by Spotify. Many of these are generic, comprised of classical music and somber acoustic songs. More often than not, these playlists lull me to sleep before they motivate me to study. One of Spotify’s most popular study playlists actually features songs under the artist title “Sleeping Music.”

Studying while listening to music has health benefits. Relaxing music  helps decrease anxiety and stress, improving your mood by motivating you to work. This improvement in mood has also been shown to improve memory, as a positive mood is linked to indirectly boosting memory formation.

This month, I’ve been experimenting with music that won’t make me crawl into bed, but instead keeps me focused and alert while remaining relaxed. Here are some of my favorite discoveries, in no particular order:


“Dial ‘M’ for Monkey & Animal Magic”

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Bonobo is a British producer and D.J. Both of these electronic albums are downtempo and “chill,” but succeed in remaining dynamic and interesting. This creates a perfect relaxing yet engaging sound that works well for a studious environment and state-of-mind. His song “Flutter” off “Dial ‘M’ for Monkey” is one of my absolute favorite songs to study to.

DJ Shadow


I first came across this album due to a curiousness about the top U.S. albums that were released during my birth year. Turns out, “Endroducing….”. was ranked one of the best albums of 1996, and with good reason. This album is composed almost entirely of sampled content that DJ Shadow obtained from vinyl records during record shop visits, hence the record shop album cover.Pitchfork” calls this album “spiritual,” and one that is equally enjoyed by “turntable nerds, the trip-hoppers, the frat boys, the hippies or the ravers.” In other words, this album will likely appeal to anyone. The ethereal instrumental hip-hop beats are great in terms of keeping yourself motivated and alert while studying.

The Avalanches

“Since I Left You”

This album is also filled with tons of samples that are used uniquely, creating an album that sounds like nothing else. This electronic album includes vocal samples that have a sonic function, and will not likely distract you while studying. The structure of the songs feels mixed and chopped, while still creating a  repetition in samples and vocals. I find this to be one of the most energizing and motivating albums to listen to while doing work or studying.

Kedr Livanskiy

“January Sun”

Kedr Livanskiy is a Russian singer and producer who initially interested me because of her Slavic origins. However, you don’t need to understand Russian to enjoy her dreamy and synthy experimental house music. Not understanding the lyrics is a plus for studying. Listening to music with lyrics (that you understand) while reading or writing tends to distract you, making you less efficient in absorbing information. A great way to combat this is by listening to music in a language you’re less or not at all familiar with. I’ve found Kedr’s music to be both calming and interesting due to its experimental nature, which is a great mix for studying.

La Femme

“Mystere & Psycho Tropical Berlin”

La Femme is a French psych-punk band with a hypnotic and synthetic sound. Like with Kedr Livanskiy, La Femme’s French lyrics work well for studying if you have limited or no understanding of the language. The French lyrics have a great sound regardless of your understanding, and creates a calming effect. The tone of the songs varies from more uplifting and motivating to somber and calming. There’s great variety within these albums, allowing you to pick and choose which work best for you while studying.

Krystyna is a junior in English.
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