if your anything like me you love to read and listen to music at the same time. When picking up the bible for a relaxing read or some contemplation I’ve found that it helps put me in the right state of mind if there some calming music in the background. Some, in fact many, would argue that you can’t read and listen at the same time. Both demand attention and right to, I feel though that a balance can be found.
I commute daily to work by train, it takes over an hour and I’ve always got a book with me when I do. The Bible is probably the most common one I take with me. In difficult times, a few readings have helped put things in perspective and find peace again. The problem is though it’s very difficult to concentrate with the noise of the train. Stops are being made, people constantly getting on and off, loud school children and just obnoxious loud talkers on their phones. It’s almost impossible to even hear myself think, much less concentrate on any reading. So I started bringing along some headphones with me to help drown out the background and find my Zen.
At first, I was quite uncertain as to what to listen to. None of my usual favorites seemed appropriate for reading. I also tended to lose focus when a favorite part came along. After about a week or two of trying different things, I finally found a playlist that works for me. It might not suit you but I found some common denominators as to why some music is better than others. Great reading music should have the following attributes
It’s very difficult to focus on your inner reading voice when you have another voice coming through your ears. Research has shown that music with a lot of vocals is not good for concentration. Choose music so that has little to no vocals. Classical is one of my favorites. Some of my favorites are Schubert, Bach, and Chopin. Bach, in particular, is a wonderful choice, most of his music is religiously inspired or themed. Strange as it may seem, electronic music can also be great. I love the beats of DJ Krista.
Less variation is better
The less varied a song is the easier it is to focus on the reading at hand while the music serves as a backdrop. If a song goes through a lot of variation with up, downs and changes in tempo then it will be a lot more difficult to focus properly. Choose songs that have a steady rhythm that doesn’t change much. A good example I found was ‘On the Corner’ by Miles Davis, an album that has been torn to pieces by critics and jazz lovers since its release in 1972. The same constant atonal riff just keeps going with little variation or change in tempo. As a jazz album, it’s terrible but I love it for reading. The lack of rhythm or tempo change makes it very easy to zone out and focus on the reading