Top-notch tunes: We asked Cambridge students what music they listen to for


As Shakespeare wrote: ‘If music be the food of studying, play on’

As much as we might want to pretend otherwise, it unfortunately seems that exams are lurking round the corner. In light of this, we decided to go searching for some study-inducing music by asking a sample of Cambridge students for their recommendations. We’re asking all the important questions: Will the Hercules soundtrack get you a first in Classics? Will classical music actually help you study? And will a dark academia playlist truly change your life?

Fancy music to impress your friends (effectiveness not guaranteed)

One first year student at Trinity Hall told us that she liked to listen to classical music when she studies as she finds “words distracting”. So anything from Nils Frahm to Chopin is on her list! Need something more specific? This student also told us that she especially enjoyed orchestral music and even the occasional “film score or ballet”.

Vibes: 9/10. Bridgerton’s classical bangers? Ain’t got nothing on me.

Study-inducement score: 10/10. I have used classical music in the past to study and I am a big fan! It isn’t too distracting and it made my brain switch into study mode. It also really made me feel like some kind of princess descending an elaborate staircase for a wild night of dancing.

*pretends my statue of Shakespeare is the Duke from Bridgerton*

Just straight up nothing

A NatSci student told us that she doesn’t “really choose to play music for [herself]”, and that there are “still songs that make [her] put [her] fingers in her ears”.

Although there are some absolute banging tunes she likes by Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and the Beatles, they would not be used as study motivation. In fact, study music would just “annoy” her.

Vibes: 6/10. The silence is deafening.

Study-inducement score: 9/10. Although I like a bit of background noise, this method did allow me to focus successfully. I felt very in the zone. The only downside was that without any music to occupy me, my brain decided that it now had enough time and mental space to figure out how the Suez Canal boat might be freed.

Big thoughts…

Mixing things up with a bit of T-Swizzle

A Robinson Engling told us that she liked to listen to “classical music (mainly Bach)” and study playlists on YouTube. However, she also said she liked to study to the Taylor Swift album Lover. Perhaps this mixing of genres is the way forward!

Vibes: 10/10. Owning all of Taylor Swift’s merch still wouldn’t express my love for her.

Study-ability: 7/10. Of course, classical music has already been rated very highly, and it worked once more. On the other hand, I think I would prefer to listen to Lover if I didn’t need to be wholly in my concentrating study bubble – while trying to work, I repeatedly had to fight the urge to get up and perform 35 Taylor-style world tours to my bedroom walls.

T Swizzle will always be my inspiration.

So there we go! Some music motivation for the lead up to exams. Whether your forte is now playing an invisible violin, you had a dispute with Beyoncé when you wore the same dress to your performance on King’s Parade, or reading this article has just infinitely improved your music taste. You’re welcome. Just don’t forget me when you smooth things over with Beyoncé.

Feature image credit and all image credits: Charlie Scott-Haynes.

Related articles recommended by this author:

Review: Knickers and Gnomes are On the Case 

About to miss your supo essay deadline? Here’s seven fool-proof ways to buy yourself more time 

A Cambridge student’s guide to line learning for lockdown theatre





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