outdoor learning, studying outside

To listen or not to listen … to music when you’re revising?

It’s an issue that has been hotly debated over the years by teenage exam candidates and their parents up and down the land: does listening to music while revising have a negative effect on your ability to retain information? Much as it pains me (being a music lover) to write this, the majority of scientific research into the subject would seem to suggest that it does, and that complete silence is the optimum environment for revising.

Yet in the article by Aftab Ali, published in The Independent, that I shared in my previous ‘revision tips’ blog post, he writes: “Listening to music has been shown to cause the release of dopamine, meaning that it is a pleasurable, rewarding experience which can relax an individual.” So, given that the press regularly reports on rising stress levels among school pupils, surely anything that helps young people relax during what is undoubtedly an extremely stressful period of their lives cannot be too bad a thing!

The one caveat here is that the music you listen to when revising definitely should not have words, as unsurprisingly they are universally acknowledged to be a major distraction when your brain is attempting to process information. That’s why if you do want to listen to music while you’re studying,  classical music is universally considered to be the best choice (if you’re interested in finding out more about this, read up on the ‘Mozart effect’).

With all this in mind, and to coincide with official study leave starting next week at many schools here in Scotland, I asked one of my own offspring – who, by good fortune, happens to work in the film music industry – to put together a 25-minute ‘revision track’ (with no words!) on Spotify for any Learning Brew readers (and their friends) who are currently looking for suitable revision music. To play the ‘revision playlist’ via your browser, go to:


Alternatively, to play it in Spotify App, search: spotify:user:ciara.elwis:playlist:5pWPCRy0p8l2zXQKVDcozz

Hope you enjoy the selection of tracks on this playlist, and as it lasts 25 minutes, it would tie in well with a 25-minute Pomodoro session if you’re using the Tomato Timer website I mentioned in the previous blog.  I’m hoping to post another ‘revision playlist’ next week. Happy revising (if that’s not an oxymoron…) meanwhile!


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