Sometimes, when you're trying to study, it seems like the world is working against you and trying to distract you in as many ways as possible. One of the main ways that I get distracted when I am trying to study or do homework is from the various noises around me- whether that be people talking loudly nearby, somebody vacuuming, loud music playing in the room next to mine, or simply from that weird clicking noise that your roommate's fan makes when it rotates (sorry Brittany). That's why I've compiled this playlist for studying that is completely made up of cool instrumental pieces of music from a variety of composers, for those times when you'd rather jam out to John Williams than listen to that ice cream truck drive by with its loud rendition of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" for the fifth time in the last hour. For each one I'll give a quick little review of it, and why I like to listen to it while I study, how it helps me focus, etc. along with a YouTube link in case you want to give some of these a listen and add them to your own study or work playlists!
1. "Jack Sparrow" from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
I tend to like this piece of music because it is playful but at the same time has a cool driving beat behind it. Not only does it feature one of the best string instruments ever (the cello) but it is fun and upbeat, something we probably all need while studying for *that* exam.
2. "For the Love of a Princess" from Braveheart
This is a beautiful and enchanting piece. Though it is not the version from the film soundtrack, it is quite a lovely take on a dramatic love theme. I actually have never seen the film "Braveheart" but from what I can tell, the music is excellent. I like to listen to this piece when I'm feeling a little panic-y from all the stress because it has a soothing and lyrical melody.
3. "The Battle" from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
The soundtrack of the first Narnia film is one of the best movie scores I know. This piece has so many different elements to it, somehow capturing the chaos of a battle in an incredibly exciting way. This piece is one of many that I will mention that gets me pumped up to crack down on studying.
4. The themes from Gladiator
I love THIS SPECIFIC YouTube version of these themes from the movie Gladiator, because they are so moving and beautiful at first, transitioning into the final driving theme. This is another piece that I listen to in order to focus on what I'm doing and escape the feelings of stress.
5. "Homeland" from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Here's a piece I listen to when I really don't want to do work, because it has an inspiring theme and helps me focus up when I need to. Also this is one of my favorite childhood movies, so it's nice for the sentimental value of it.
6. "Finale-The Sword in the Stone" from the BBC TV Series Merlin
First of all this is a great TV show for all of you nerds out there (like me). This piece of music is epic, cool, beautiful, and contains many of the themes that are played throughout the series. Those of you who like themes from Game of Thrones or the like should definitely take a listen.
7. "A Wondrous Place" from Tarzan
This is another one of my favorite childhood movies, and a soundtrack that my dad and I would listen and sing along to (with the lovely Phil Collins, of course) in the car. But what's underrated is the orchestral score to this movie, and especially this piece, as it is very beautiful and takes me back watching the VHS tape many a time growing up.
8. The music box theme from Tuck Everlasting
This is another kind of calming piece, with an ethereal quality to it. It's beautiful and has a such a unique sound, with the opening of it being perhaps the most memorable part of the entire piece, beginning with a harp and someone whistling the theme. SO cool!
9. "Test Drive" from How to Train Your Dragon
This piece is epic and awesome and it gets me pumped full of good vibes every time I listen to it. It is played during one of the best scenes in the movie, and honestly all the music from this movie is awesome, with it's Scottish flare and playful themes throughout the film. All I can say is epic. Epic epic epic epic epic.
10. "Time" from Inception
This movie is a confusing mess of dreams within dreams, and sometimes that's what endless piles of homework can feel like. In all seriousness though, this theme is incredibly simple, yet Hans Zimmer is able to build and build and build it into something extraordinary, creating a suspenseful and engaging piece of music to keep me on my toes when I'm about to fall asleep at my desk.
11. "Harry's Wondrous World" from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
THIS piece needs no introduction. I simply love this piece, and like to listen to it while I study. That's it.
12. "London Calling" from Star Trek Into Darkness
Any piece featuring the piano with the orchestra backing it is going to strike a chord with me (haha, piano joke). This piece is no exception- with a repetitive piano riff and accompanying orchestral drive this piece starts out kind of chill and then ends with a bang. It's great to listen to while studying because it is repetitive but interesting enough to not lull you to sleep.
13. "Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends" from The Piano Guys "Wonders" album
If you haven't heard of the Piano Guys then I am very sorry to tell you that you've been missing out, my friend. This cover of the beautiful themes from the movie "Kung Fu Panda" combines the themes from the movie soundtrack with a "darker" sounding prelude by Frederic Chopin, and the results are excellent. While kind of dorky, this is an exciting piece to get your spirits up before diving into that next paper.
Moving into non-movie soundtrack pieces...
14. 1st movement of Dvorak's Cello Concerto
This particular YouTube video is my favorite video recording of this piece (besides the Yo-Yo Ma version, but that one is very poor quality). It is actually a recording of the full four movement concerto, so it is quite long, but I've used this one in the good faith that some of you will listen to the whole thing and enjoy Dvorak's wonderful creation. This piece is intense, beautiful, and impressive, and I love listening to it while I am highlighting a reading or something. Watching this I'm hoping someone can answer my question of how he can play so well with his hair hanging over the fingerboard like that.
15. Beethoven's 5th Symphony
For those of you needing a bit more drama in your ears as you study, this is the piece for you. Starting with the famous first movement, this piece will definitely keep you alive, alert, awake and enthusiastic to do your work. I encourage those who are not familiar with the other movements to listen to the whole symphony as they are equally as awesome, though much more chill than the first movement I must say.
16. "Moonlight Sonata" by Beethoven
Speaking of Beethoven, his moonlight sonata is bomb. The first two movements are relatively short, calm, and pretty, and then you get to the third movement and Beethoven lets all hell break loose. It is truly awesome to listen to, though I do find myself getting distracted by the third movement when I try to study to it because it's so incredibly epic.
17. Billy the Kid Ballet Suite by Copland
I would not have known about this piece had I not played it before in the WSU Symphony. It is super cool, and was so much fun to play that I wanted to listen to it forever so I bought a recording on ITunes, which is honestly way better than this YouTube recording, as this is a college orchestra not a professional orchestra. They still do a pretty good job though! This whole suite is playful and moves between fun themes and more lyrical themes, which makes it nice to listen to while doing homework as it keeps you engaged.
18. The Planets by Gustav Holst
(This link should lead you to a playlist on YouTube with all of the movements. Shown here is the first movement "Mars")
This is probably my favorite piece to listen to when I am needing a little something more to keep me engaged or block out distractions. Each movement captures a different mood entirely, which is why it's so nice to listen to since it adds variety.