Writing about World Music

Section F, Fall 2016

Finals Music

Due to the honor code and the flexibility that we all have with testing, I find myself taking a lot of exams in the comfort of my dorm room. Something about the silence of my dorm room and me and just the problems I find unsettling, as if the silence is taunting me, daring me to get something wrong. Because of this, I always have to listen to music when I’m taking tests or the silence gets in my head and it adversely affects my testing.

The type of music that I listen to is always pretty consistent, I don’t like to mess with any of my mojo beforehand so I don’t really listen to too many new songs and I don’t listen to anything that will cause me to become uncentered or on an emotional tilt. Usually this consists of some light EDM or rap, something with a good beat, but not something that I’m going to get distracted by trying to analyze or pick out the lyrics from.

If my focus is really high and I don’t need any music to break the silence, I might turn on some alpha brain wave music, my secret weapon.  There are no lyrics to this type of music, no real beat, but there is rhythm and I think it helps. How much of this is actually placebo and how much of it actually helps me, I have no idea, but I find it stimulating to the point where I can take my tests. I also don’t know whether or not listening to this “music” actually helps me better than my traditional  music choices, but I’m willing to try anything new that’ll make me do better. Point is, and I don’t know about everyone else, but I need something to break up the silence when I’m taking tests, and I will be doing that a lot come this finals season.


  1. Listening to music while studying has always intrigued me. I know a lot of people love it, but I am generally not a huge fan of it because I get distracted by most songs when studying. I start paying attention to the lyrics of the songs instead of on the work I should be focusing on for the most part. I really like to pay attention to the words in and meanings of songs while listening to music and that habit is not compatible with studying.

    One of the only times I will listen to music while studying is if it’s really late at night and I can barely keep myself awake. At that point I will blast a very uncommon style of study music. I listen to aggressive fast paced trap music because it keeps the juices flowing and makes it awfully hard to doze off. People always sound baffled when I tell them this, but it can be effective. Also this music is mostly pure sounds and contains little words.

    Apart from that one situation, music mostly distracts me while studying. Everyone has a different method of focusing but mine does not involve playing some tunes.

  2. I know a lot of people like to listen to music while they study or take tests, but personally, it just distracts me. Like Brian said, I often catch myself paying attention to the lyrics of a song, rather than my work. Even in songs without lyrics, I find myself being distracted by music, paying attention to the melody or main theme.

    I know that when a lot of Davidson students need to really focus, they go study or do work in the silence of the library, however, I find pure silence to be just as distracting as a song. Personally, I work best when there is a small amount of background noise or ambience. I do 95% of my work in my dorm room, where I can hear the fan running, my clock ticking, and occasionally people talking in the lounge.

    I’m not completely sure what about the sound makes such a difference in my productivity when I’m listening to music compared to hearing ambience while I study, but I would be very interested to find out.

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