My Opinion On Listening To Music While Coding/Studying

DISCLAIMER: This is my personal opinion,  this blog post is not a valid reference for a scientific paper

Now that we’ve got that out-of-the-way let’s talk. I like to listen to music while programming.

In the early days, I found it hard to concentrate while being able to hear any sort of noise. I required complete silence while studying or coding. To be fair, I was able to work a little bit while listening to music when I was just starting out coding. Today, I can completely concentrate while listening to music. In fact, often I find it hard to concentrate without listening to music. Currently, as I’m writing this blog post, I’m listening to Kamelot’s Karma. If you’ve never heard of Kamelot, stop everything you’re doing right now and go get that album. It’ AMAZING.

Kamelot – Karma

My Early Experience With Listening To Music And Studying

As I’ve said before, I was not always able to concentrate while listening to music. I was getting very annoyed when I heard any sort of noise that would disrupt my focus. At the age of 12, I started really getting into music. Sure I’ve listened to music before, but my life changed around that time. As a kid, the only music I would listen to was by a Croatian artist named Thompson. I didn’t know what genre of music that was. In 2006. Thompson released an album called “Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj“. I  LOVED IT!

As I said, I had no idea what style of music that was, and I didn’t care. I never went out of my way to search for music at that time. That started when I was 12. I was taking guitar lessons and my guitar teacher said to me that I should check out a band called Guns n’ Roses. He said I would like it.He was right. From that point on, I started listening to rock bands. I listened to Ac/Dc, Aerosmith, Guns n’ Roses and even Metallica. That was too heavy at the time for me.

A true turning point for me was when I first heard Run To The Hills by Iron Maiden. It was perfect. And I started digging deeper into the genre of Heavy Metal. Currently, I mostly listen to Power Metal, Melodic Death Metal and Symphonic Metal.

Later I realised that Thompson also made Symphonic Metal. If you listen to his newer work, you’ll hear things that resemble bands like Nightwish, Iron Maiden and such. I also discovered I like folk music. I like nordic folk music (Wardruna),  celtic, slavic etc.

As I said, I couldn’t listen to music and focus at the same time at that point. One time I tried to listen to some music while I was doing my math homework. I liked it. It actually helped me to get through it quicker. There is a possibility that it was just an illusion and that I worked at the exact same speed as I normally would or even that is slowed me down. I couldn’t tell at that time as I didn’t really care. I can tell you for a fact that music helps me to concentrate today.

In the beginning, I could listen to music only while studying a subject that did not require making sentences, like math, physics, chemistry etc. As time went on I started being able to listen to music and study subjects like history or biology. But, as is the case with most people, I could only listen to instrumental music. Music without lyrics. At that time, because of my studying habits, I started listening to a lot more folk music. My first interaction with this kind of music was with Adrian von Ziegler. He’s music is the first thing that comes up on YouTube when you search for celtic folk music. He was my goto guy for study music for a while until I started getting board listening to his music over and over again on repeat. So I started look for more artist. I discovered Wardruna and other artists like that, but I also tried listening to bands I listen to regularly.

My First Attempts At Listening To Music With Lyrics While Studying

First I started by making a study playlist of songs with as little of lyrics as possible, but also I didn’t want them to be to catchy. For example, I couldn’t listen to Blind Guardian because they tend to write music with huge sing-along choruses and guitar melodies. I started with songs like Megadeth’s Wake Up Dead and Metallica’s Call Of Ktulu.

I started getting more and more comfortable with studying and listening to music at the same time. I experimented a lot with that my freshman year of highschool. At the beginning of my sophomore year I was almost completely comfortable with studying and listening to music. I did still prefer to take my headphones of sometimes and walk around and study. Actually that is still my favourite way of studying history. I love history. The music did not distract me. I just liked that method more for history. That was the only exception.

On Coding And Listening To Music

I started learning to code at the end of my freshman year of highschool. My first language was Java. I bought Java: A Beginner’s Guide by Herbert Schildt. I still haven’t gone through the damn book. Got tired of learning that way. Found some better methods, but that’s for another time. If you remember, I was pretty comfortable with listening to music while studying at that time. It was very fun. I did have to take off my headphones when I encountered a hard problem. If I would get stuck on a problem for more than ten minutes, I would take off my headphones, stretch and rest for five minutes. Actually I still do that sometimes and I do recommend everyone to do that, but I prefer to bruteforce a solution to a problem before I take a break or give up.

These days, I always have my headphones while coding. I actually tried to code without any music the other day. I was in a pretty good mood and I was alone in my room with my computer so it went pretty smoothly, but it was under perfect conditions. I was working on my side project and basically designing how I want to approach the core problem of the app.

Sometimes, I can even put on a podcast while programming. When listening to a podcast I like to put on something I’m not extremely interested in. For example, I love the College Info Geek Podcast and the Simple Programmer Podcast and I would never put on any of them while coding as I will ignore a lot of what they say or I will get to distracted. I like to put on some history podcast episode that does not have a particularly interesting topic. I am not saying that these podcasts are bad, I am saying that not every episode interests me. I enjoy these podcasts a lot, but not every topic will grip my attention. The perfect example is World War II Podcast.