There are playlists for everything. You’ve got your favorite songs to work out to or to jam out to on a long drive, but what about when you’re studying for pharmacology, immunology, parasitology, reading up on cases and researching current issues in vet med (sometimes all in the same night)?
For me, it totally depends on what I’m studying and how hard I need to focus. I actually grew up in an elementary school that didn’t have walls; it instead worked on a pod system, where the rooms were separated by file cabinets, chalkboards, and other school equipment. This meant that I grew up, learning in an environment that was rarely quiet. It imparted me with an amazing ability to focus when there is a lot going on and filter out background noise when I need to, but it has also left me feeling most comfortable when there is some type of background noise. If things are dead quiet, I actually have a harder time staying focused.
I also have a varied musical background. My mom loves country music and Broadway show tunes, my dad is a classic rock kinda guy, and I grew up playing classical piano. My Pandora stations range from Ray Charles to Keith Urban to Classical Solo Piano to John Mayer to Aerosmith to Today’s Hits depending on my mood.
Usually, when I’m studying or working on coursework, I am listening to upbeat music – I try not to play anything too slow that might pull my motivation down with it. This could be country music, pop, rock, or just about any genre, just something that isn’t moving at a snail’s pace or is too much of a downer.
If I *really* need to concentrate, I’ll switch to music without lyrics. Something about the lack of words lets me hone in on whatever it is I’m working on. I have several classical music stations (with a heavy preference towards piano scores, but I love orchestral arrangements as well), as well as an instrumental film score and top hits playlist because sometimes the general classical music stations give me music that is either too slow and quiet or too dramatic and loud.
Other genres of background noise I’ve recently ventured into are podcasts and the comedy station on Pandora. I have to watch with the comedy station though, because I’ll often get more caught up in listening to the set and less focused on my work. It’s a nice change of pace if I’m not feeling any of my music stations, though.
I’ve become a huge fan of podcasts for the same reasons; if I’m not really into listening to music, but need something in the background, I’ll find a podcast to listen to. There are podcasts on literally any and every subject – I’ve found some of the history ones interesting, but as a long-time Jenna Marbles fan, I love the Jenna Julien Podcast they put out every week. Whatever the topic is, I can throw a podcast on in the background, have some white noise and can really concentrate nicely. If I take a break from studying, I can jump into actually listening to the podcast. Another nice thing with podcasts is that there are podcasts of varying lengths of time, so you can pick a podcast roughly for the same amount of time you want to study. Get done studying, switch subjects, switch podcasts, repeat.
I think the most important role that music plays in my veterinary career, though, is pumping me up before exams. I have a playlist of songs that I listen to in the few minutes before an exam. With my laptop and notes closed, I use my playlist to block out everyone else asking last-minute questions, clear my head, and calm myself down so I can enter my exam in the best mindset possible.
What’s on your playlist? What is your #1 jam? Your pump-up song? Let me know in the comments – I am always looking for new music to add to my stations!