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How music helps boost your brain [and improves your online studying]

BY: SGI|19 September 2019
BLOG| The digital student life

Between email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and myriad more ways to consume content in the modern world, your mind is always active. When it comes to your online short course studies, though, you need it to slow down and focus. Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher, was not wrong when he said that music gives “wings to the mind” and many studies have proven that just listening to your favourite song instantly boosts your mood.


Giving you a burst of energy is not the only positive effect of music. According to Chopra, listening to music can:

  • Help improve your mood,
  • Allow you to focus,
  • Increase your productivity,
  • Help drive your creativity, and
  • Enhance your efficiency.


Which are all hugely beneficial to your online short course studies!



But not all music is created equal – or rather, not all music has the same effect on everyone. Learning to play a musical instrument, for example, helps your memory as you are required to do multiple tasks at the same time (such as placing your fingers and reading musical notes off a page), says WebMD. Additionally, people who have done musical studies or training are often good at problem-solving subjects such as mathematics and science.


A study by the Stanford University School of Medicine has also found that listening to symphonic music helps people pay more attention to the task at hand. At the World Science Festival in 2015, cognitive neuroscientist Petr Janata explained that music helps memory recall by linking certain sounds with emotions that take place in a particular time or during a specific incident.



So will blasting Britney’s “Baby One More Time” help you ace those online finance courses? Probably not, especially if you’re prone to singing the lyrics at the top of your voice. Use these tips to find the sounds that help improve your memory recall and allow you to focus:

1. Hit repeat

In her book, On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind, psychologist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis recommends listening to the same tune on repeat as you “dissolve” into the song, blocking your mind from wandering to other topics. The same works for repetitive sounds such as the drone of a machine or waves breaking on the beach.


2. Download an app

Apps such as Focus@Will and Coffitivity provide ambient sound to help you concentrate. While the latter, as its name suggests, repeats coffee-shop noises, the former plays timed sequences of curated instrumental music, blocking your brain from external distractions.


3. Compile a playlist

If your study sessions already include listening to music, perhaps try switching up the types of sounds you listen to. One study suggests playing background music without lyrics is preferable as it increases productivity while natural and classical sounds have the same effect. Try a predetermined Spotify or Apple Music playlist to help you find sounds you like.


Ultimately, every individual is different, so experiment to find the tracks that work for you. Stellenbosch Graduate Institute (SGI) encourages creative learning – no matter which area of business you work in! While pressing play on your favourite song, develop your creativity with the SGI Creativity in Business online short course.


For more advice on being a digital student with SGI, download our ebook. It contains plenty of information and ‘study hacks’ to help you live your best student life and ace your studies.


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