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Music That Focuses the Brain

Research suggests that the soundtrack to your child's homework should comprise these 21 songs, proven to change the electromagnetic frequency of brain waves for optimal focus.

11 Comments: Music That Focuses the Brain

  1. Confused a bit with the 21 song statement… Are they meaning that Vivaldi’s four seasons is taken as one song? Or is there a specific piece within the four seasons that is helpful? I’m sure I’m reading into it too much… But I’m trying to make a playlist, and want to get some opinions… I also see others have made playlists as well. Just wanted to waste time and make my own. Thanks for any input..

  2. My teenage daughter and I both have ADD-Inattentive type. I’ve tried classical (and actually like listening to certain artists) and unless it follows a distinct rhythm, it actually make concentrating harder for me. No idea why since “all the studies say” that it should help. Alternatively, I just discovered that guitar legend Dick Dale’s stuff can focus me so much that in the past three weeks I’ve caught up on work AND cleaned my desk (even inside the drawers. No, really!)

    I also agree with the following statements:

    “Jazz makes me smile more.” – Chet Baker helps me concentrate (especially “Chet Baker Sings”) yet I can’t listen to Glenn Miller as he’s my dad’s fave, dad’s got dementia, Glenn brings back great childhood memories with a healthy dad, blah blah blah. No fun to be working on a project and someone finds you in your office sobbing to “String of Pearls”.

    “I do find some metal conducive to my own ADHD brain.” – 100% yes. Bonn Scott AC/DC, too, as well as The Ramones early albums.


    “(a) Metallica flavor has always suited me when studying, reading, or just to relax.” I think Metallica helps a lot because it blocks everything else out and is consistent – like white noise. Metal Noise. I have a white noise/pink noise playlist on Spotify, but dang…sometimes ya need some good tunes to get your happy on. My kid introduced me to Billie Eilish recently and her music works to help BOTH of us concentrate.

    There’s so much music out there – Here’s to hoping everyone can find something that will work for them, young, old, classical-loving or not-so-much.

  3. Before I join the chorus of “Classical might work for some people but I prefer…” I think two things that many kinds of music have in common, and reasons they can help us focus, are structural familiarity and emotional direction.

    By providing emotional direction, I mean that music influences our emotions, and if we choose music that evokes a positive, optimistic state of mind, or that we associate with those feelings, it can help set the conditions for productivity.

    What I mean by familiarity is that many kinds of music contain a patterned structure, which is both a basis of setting up and then fullfilling the listener’s expectations (returning to the chorus, recurrence of a theme) and a context for novelty (variations on a theme, embellishments of a melody, improvisation over a familiar or recurring harmony). The mind knows what to expect, either from having heard the music before or because it can figure out the patterns as they come up. But predictability is also boring, so some novelty is important in getting the brain to think forward. It has to ask the question, “ok, I was expecting to hear X, but I heard Y instead, what is going to happen to resolve the tension between what I was expecting and what I got?”

    Constantly figuring out the patterns is what holds the brains focus. If the patterns are more difficult to decipher, the listener has to consciously focus more, or loses interest because it’s too much work. If the patterns are too easy, the listener gets bored and the mind wanders. Specific study of music helps with this kind of pattern recognition, but the human brain good at this naturally, which is also why we create music that contains patterns.

    The right balance of predictability and novelty can allow the brain to be fully engaged, or in the case of background music, engaged and focused “enough” that this focus can also be directed at another mental task.

    For me, at times when I need to focus on a project in a busy noisy office, for example, I listen to jazz from my own collection. Jazz is filled with patterns of all kinds, the rhythm tends to be bouncy and forward-moving. Having spent most of my life listening to it and studying it, it makes sense and I have positive emotional associations with it. It keeps my mind moving forward, blocks out the conversations in the room that would otherwise suck my focus away, keeps my emotions positive, and since I own the tracks and have heard them before, I don’t have to pay close attention to avoid ‘missing anything’. I enjoy classical music to work to as well, and based on the pattern aspect it’s no surprise that the baroque-period (Bach, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Handel) works best. But Jazz makes me smile more.

  4. Video game music is also a proven concentration aid. Video game music is designed specifically to enhance immersion and engagement with tasks that may otherwise be considered boring.

  5. El Ten Eleven was a favorite of mine while studying. I started with classical as most people do and ended up with them. I highly recommend them.

  6. I don’t study music, but I’ve always considered metal (when done right) to be very similar to classical. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a ton of Megadeth and Slayer for your ADHD kid to replace Beethoven, but I know I do find some metal conducive to my own ADHD brain.
    Here’s a few things I found on the web.




    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/22/heavy-metal-extreme-music-calmer_n_7636534.html (“Apparently, Ozzy Osbourne may hold the key to happiness.” Anybody who’s ever listened to “Crazy Train” can tell you this.)

    There’s a few I left out because I disagree with them (they either take a preconceived fear-based view, or a view of superiority over metal), but I will post them here just for the sake of completion.



    1. I agree. Certainly not all metal, but music with a Metallica flavor has always suited me when studying, reading, or just to relax. I have always felt they had a symphonic sound certainly created from classical music

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