It’s that time of year again! As you head back to school, you might want to start thinking about the kind of music you want to listen to as you pursue your studies. Sure, you can find lots of study playlists on Spotify® (you can find some suggestions here, here and here), but it’s much more fun to create your own custom playlist.
With that in mind, here are 10 songs that can help you fire up your brainwaves, concentrate deeply and focus on your schoolwork.
This hypnotic groove by Norwegian producer / DJ Kygo is just the right musical medicine for getting into the zone. Its lush intro instantly transports you into a new place, with great use of long reverb tails and light percussion to get you settled in. The soft synth pads and easy-to-digest melody won’t distract, so you can stay focused on your studies. If you find that singing helps you concentrate better, there’s also a vocal version that features British singer/songwriter Ella Henderson. Check it out here.
Released just last year, this chillout single by German artist Don Phillipe features cascading piano lines, acoustic bass sounds and an easy beat, so it won’t tax your brain when you need to concentrate on your studies. The track is short, too, clocking in at just 1:38, so you can easily put it on repeat and stay dialed in as the music flows by. Check it out here.
Here’s a mid-tempo Deadmau5 instrumental that kicks off with a long beatless intro before finding its way into a tight groove. There are lots of tasty breaks in the middle that will keep you engaged without being distracted, with sonic elements popping up all over the stereo soundstage. Check it out here.
Numerous scientific reports confirm that listening to classical music can help with studying and concentration. Available in many well-recorded versions, this beautiful orchestral piano concerto was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1786, proving that great music is timeless. Weaving in and out of musical themes and intensity for more than six minutes, it gives you plenty of time to stay focused on your subject matter while enjoying the brilliance of this legendary composer. Check it out here.
Another track by a Norwegian DJ / producer — this time, Jerry Folk — this one blends indie with house and a touch of processed vocals to create a smooth track that grooves. There is only one line of lyrics (“I got money in the bank like a rockstar”), which repeats over and over again, surrounded by swirling keyboard lines, pulsating drums and mesmerizing childlike bells. It’s a great musical journey for the mind, and maybe you will be inspired to take your studies further, so you’ll have money in the bank like a rockstar too! Check it out here.
This catchy ’80s instrumental by keyboardist extraordinaire Jan Hammer was the theme song for the hit TV show Miami Vice. The “Crockett” in the title was Miami detective Sonny Crockett, played by actor Don Johnson. The track starts with a hypnotically pulsing drum machine beat followed by thick layers of synthesizer pads. Eventually a guitar kicks in and the track builds in intensity before segueing effortlessly into a slow fadeout. Check it out here.
English musician Nick Drake released this gorgeously crafted acoustic piece (with vocals that describe the coming pink moon) in 1972. It’s an easy listening experience guaranteed to put you in the right state of mind to absorb the facts and figures before you. Check it out here.
This feel-good 1976 instrumental hit by guitarist George Benson is a beautifully produced track that showcases Benson’s talent for simple, fluid melodies that are easy to digest, freeing your mind for study and other complex tasks. Check it out here.
This classic jazz instrumental kicks off one of my desert island top 10 albums: Kind of Blue, recorded in 1959 by legendary trumpeter Miles Davis. Like many of the other tracks on this groundbreaking record, it’s a modal jazz composition that features a relaxing piano and acoustic bass introduction before the rest of the Davis sextet kicks in. Listening to this mesmerizing track while hitting the books will let you stay on target throughout your entire study session. Check it out here.
This smooth dance/electronica track from Cogitation has an easy feel that will allow you to keep learning without over-thinking the music floating by. It’s got great production values too, with ethereal keyboard pads, a tight groove and a simple but catchy melody line. By the way, the word “cogitation” is defined as “the action of thinking deeply about something” — the perfect state of mind for studying. Check it out here.