By Jordan Jones
What is music, really? And how can music help relieve the stress students face during long study sessions? Admittedly, I only added the first question to sound cool; but the second thought is pretty fascinating! Does listening to music really improve our quality of learning?
There have been several studies on this. According to one experiment comparing twenty-five students who were asked to study in a quiet environment versus an environment where music was playing, researchers concluded that “the changing notes and words of music while memorizing an ordered list impaired one’s cognitive abilities” (Wales University in Cardiff, United Kingdom).
Despite this, however, that is not the case for all types of music. In a similar study, students who were in an alternative research group—listening to non-lyrical, classical music—reported to have similar or slightly higher cognitive digestion than those in a quiet setting. This distinct variable of lyrical and non-lyrical music can help explain a growing trend with ‘chillpop’ genres amongst college students worldwide; particularly, a brand of music called Lo-fi.
For those unaware of the genre, Lo-fi is a style of music with typically no lyrics, no fluctuating frequencies (white noise), and a self-proclaimed focus on relaxing the mind. Lo-fi songs are generally composed with a simplistic melody, soft instrumentals, and a feel-good aesthetic that carries throughout the entire track—much like a blend of classical and pop music.
A front-page Google search gawks about the benefits of Lo-fi on empowering the mind, but the truth is far simpler. Listening to music releases dopamine in the brain, increasing an individual’s mood and willingness to stick with challenging tasks (2019 UOW, Australia). Lo-fi takes this information to create a thinking masterpiece; by spinning an electronic mix into modern styles, Lo-fi creates a beautiful aesthetic to put the mind at ease.
Anxiety and stress come hand-in-hand with studying, and just by simply providing the brain with a source of peaceful, harmonic frequencies to focus on, the difference between completing an assignment or ripping out hair is possible. Listening to music is a chemical process to power through bulky textbooks, and chillpop genres serve as a catalyst for such motivation.
Chillpop or not, the fact remains that music is—while sometimes a distraction—central to maintaining both a mental and physical wellness deep into assignments. While it’s easy to flop on a playlist and shut yourself off from the outside world, perhaps consider joining the Lo-fi trend? You definitely won’t be disappointed!