Staff Picks: Study Music Preferences

Learn how The Concordian’s team enjoys music during midterm season.

It is no secret that music can boost motivation and increase energy while also proving soothing and stress-relieving. Here is how some of our staff choose to listen to music with schedules packed with midterm deadlines. Whether you are simply curious of disparities between music listening habits in high stress or seek new focus and concentration music to add to your playlists, look no further! 

Emma, News Editor: “I usually like an upbeat tune playing on my record player. If I listen to slow songs or classical music, I won’t be able to concentrate. When I’m studying, I’ll play Bad Bunny’s albums, “The Queen is Dead” by The Smiths and some of their singles. My record player has a bluetooth setting, so I’ll connect my phone to it and play Bad Bunny or I’ll go through my vinyls and play The Smiths. It’s such great motivation music and I feel like I can get through my homework and anything by going all out with what I’m listening to. I also have ADD and sometimes it’s hard to stay focused all the time, but for me, upbeat music keeps me motivated to get things done.”

James, Creative Director: “I have always listened to Homework by Daft Punk when I want to get in the groove of an essay or big project! The fact that it says “HOMEWORK” on the album cover serves as a reminder to stay focused every time I look at my phone and I find the repetitive but energetic energy of the music to be a great way to keep me on track. The sound is a little abrasive, so I don’t fall into the trap of getting too comfortable and getting distracted and it also doesn’t have too many words so my brain can focus on the words I’m trying to write!”

Matthew, Assistant News Editor: “I like listening to jazz while I study and do things. It fits the atmosphere very well especially since the weather is getting colder. Chet Baker is my go-to, otherwise I mostly exclusively play instrumentals. Another favorite is the artist Sewerslvt, who is retired now but she has a wide array of electronic music. It ranges from really hyper to slow and melancholic. For me, this music is mainly for writing while jazz is for studying!”

Stefano, Assistant Music Editor: “When it comes to studying, I either opt for specific albums and playlists or no music at all. Benny the Butcher’s Tana Talk 3 (2018) has always been a go-to for me due to its simplicity. The album is mostly boom-bap beats with a minimalist, nocturnal, and airy sound. Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist is another example: at only 10 tracks and 35 minutes, it creates an entrancing, moody atmosphere—thanks to a combination of jazzy, soulful instrumentals and grittier boom-bap inspired ones. This explains why I also listen to The Alchemist’s instrumentals to study: the genres in these instrumentals are soothing, relaxing, and even hypnotic when looped into a full beat. The cohesive mood and setting created in these projects also makes them optimal for full listens since the slow-tempo and groovy qualities are calming, which allows me to focus. I use headphones very often, although sometimes I tend to let my vinyl collection just spin in the background. Plus, getting up to change the records helps put little breaks in between my studying, creating intervals (which is often recommended by professors & professionals).”

Mackenzie, Copy Editor: “Normally, if I’m in a noisy and busy environment, I’ll prefer to put on music in my AirPods with noise cancellation. Music is always better than the buzzing of activity for my concentration. I’ll choose either a lo-fi comfort playlist or my Autumn Vibes playlist, which currently consists mainly of indie folk songs. However, the music I pick for studying always has to be very familiar to me to avoid me getting irritated by unknown sounds and lyrics. If I’m home and it’s relatively silent, I usually stick to the silence. I feel that adding music in this situation only makes it harder to focus and I spend more time choosing music than actually working. If I do decide to put on music in a quiet place, I prefer instrumental lo-fi playlists that I’ve precurated. I used to always have music playing when I studied in high school or cégep, but university made me a bit more tired and overstimulated, hence the newfound pickiness.”

Getting vitamin D is not as hard as you think

Here are some small things to add a bit of sun in your day-to-day life

The grass is starting to grow beneath the shrinking piles of snow, the flowers are awakening from their long winters’ nap, the air has a slight hint of manure. Yes, spring is here!

When spring comes around, the craving for fresh air and sun is always running high. This is completely natural, as stated in an article by NBC; humans tend to “hibernate” for the winter by staying in. This leads to us awakening from our slumbering and groggy selves as spring rolls in.

Giving in to spring’s good looks can be hard as it tends to go hand in hand with the busiest time of the semester. But the fresh air isn’t as out of reach as it may seem, as you don’t need to dedicate an entire day to soak up the benefits of the sun.

Experts say as little as 10 to 15 minutes outside can lift your mood, improve your immune system and help you sleep. (Which you definitely still need to do, even during finals). A lot of these benefits are related to how the sun boosts your serotonin levels, otherwise known as the “happiness hormone.”

One of the best ways to feel those rays is to sunbathe! Have you ever seen your dog or cat wander the house and sit in a tiny ounce of sunlight that is beaming into the room? Well, they have the right idea. Sunbathing is one of the simplest ways to enjoy UV rays and is often overlooked. It takes next to no effort and can be done from nearly anywhere: your balcony, backyard, a park, or even just next to a window.

While you’re out there taking it all in, you don’t have to sit around and do nothing. You can always take that growing pile of books outside with you and set up an outdoor office. Sunlight improves your mood and your creativity levels, according to an article in Time Magazine. This would put you in a better state of mind to study.

If outdoor lounging or studying doesn’t quite interest you, then find a different time of day to squeeze some sunlight in, like lunch time. You can always have a little picnic at a local park or even in your backyard. It doesn’t have to be a whole setup with a blanket (although every once in a while it is really fun). You can just walk to your favourite nearby spot and take some time to enjoy your food.

With the end of the semester comes high stress, and 15 minutes in the sun may not be enough to soothe your anxieties. You can always go for a walk. Students get told this millions of times a day, but that just shows how helpful and easy it could be. Going for a walk is a triple whammy: it will allow you to enjoy the sun you have been craving, move your body and take a break from your workspace.

An article in the New Yorker mentions how going for a walk can boost your mood: “Because we don’t have to devote much conscious effort to the act of walking, our attention is free to wander.” By allowing your mind to wander, a lot of those worries will be put on the back burner for a bit and reduce stress levels.

Spring for some means stress and finals, but it is also a time of new beginnings and growth. Allow these ideas to inspire you to make some small changes in your day to enjoy spring’s warmth and brightness. All you need is 15 minutes.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


The Student Success Centre provides tips for students to succeed

As midterms wrap up and the end of the semester approaches, the Student Success Centre is offering a brand new program called Get Back on Track: Study Strategies for Struggling Students.

Since March 6, the centre has been giving various workshops as well as providing tips on how to manage studies.

“We noticed that in our offices, we were having a lot of meetings with students who, at this time in the semester, just as they begin to receive their mid-term exams back, aren’t as happy with the results as they thought they might be,” said Jennifer Banton, learning specialist and organizer of the workshops.

Banton said this could be a source of stress for students as they realize they only have a few evaluations left, which could be critical for their grades.

According to Banton, there are numerous reasons why students have a hard time and may fall behind on schoolwork. This can be due to personal reasons such as physical or mental health, overbooking in terms of classes or workload––but it is mainly due to time-management.

The centre recommends a total of seven hours of studying per course each week, but this can be a challenge for some students.

“They may unknowingly bite off more than they can chew,” Banton said, adding that even if some students struggle at the beginning of the semester, they usually find it much easier by the end.

Aamna Sheikh, a masters student in information system security at Concordia, said that looking for internships makes time-management more difficult for her.

“Nobody is going to help you with the extra things, because that’s your job,” said Sheikh. “If you want to land a good job or an internship, you need to learn the extra things.”

Sheikh said that this student-life reality is “emotionally torturing” but she will look into applying the reading tips she learned at the workshop.

Some of these tips include what the workshop called “learning essentials,” such as reviewing notes in proactive ways, creating study groups, reading the conclusions of textbooks first, and making non-linear notes (using visual maps and diagrams).

Students were advised to use course outlines and semester planners to sort out the number of hours required to complete their assignments. Organizers also suggested dropping a class if students felt overwhelmed.

The concept of responsibility and self-management called “locus of control,″ was also part of the conversation. Its purpose is to encourage students to recognize that they’re responsible for their progress, which creates a sense of control over what they can do to change things.

“The hardest part is knowing when and how to start,” said Camila Caridad Rivas, a journalism student at Concordia, regarding assignments. “It’s not only about doing the work. You have to accept that you’re human. You need to take breaks and rest. You can’t do everything because then you’re going to exhaust yourself.”

Students may book appointments to get individual guidance and advising from the Student Success Centre. Learning support workshops are offered more than once to accommodate students. The event calendar is available on the Concordia website.

“We’re here to help students succeed in their academic career,” Banton said.


Photo by Alex Hutchins

Student Life

A cup of joe with a side of homework

Studying for finals made easier thanks to these five student-friendly Montreal cafés

Café Oui Mais Non
72 Jarry St. East
Open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Wifi: yes
Outlets: many

Photo by Joyce Salem

A little far from downtown, this student-oriented café near Jarry metro is worth the detour for studying. A cup of coffee is cheaper here than in chains like Starbucks or Second Cup—perfect for a student budget.

Additionally, the café is conveniently divided into three “studying sections.” The first is a quiet section, where people only whisper. This section is perfect for a Concordian who prefers a library-style volume for studying. The next area is the come-and-go section. In this space, customers can grab a coffee, have a quick chat and dash. A third, more animated section is in the café’s small basement, where customers can chat as they please.

Table sizes vary, and the lighting is bright enough to keep you wide awake during a long day of hitting the books. While the lighting is strong, the atmosphere is relaxed, unlike a library, which can feel a little sterile and cold.

294 Ste-Catherine St. West
Open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Wifi: yes
Outlets: few

Photo by Joyce Salem

While supporting local artists by exposing their work, Anticafé presents its own creativity by offering a new student-café concept.

Rather than pay for what they consume, students pay for the hours spent in the café. It costs $3 for the first hour and $2 for each subsequent hour, for a maximum of $9 for a full day.

Not only is the rate ideal, but the studying arrangements are flawless. The owner converted a two-story apartment into a café, with every bedroom offering a space with tables and chairs. The rooms are useful for group projects or practicing for oral presentations.

The second floor of Anticafé is a little quieter, making it a better option if you have a harder time concentrating.

Crew Collective & Café
360 St-Jacques St.
Open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m on weekdays,
and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
Wifi: yes
Outlets: many

Photo by Joyce Salem

Crew Collective & Café is located in the Old Port, near Square-Victoria-OACI metro, in what used to be a majestic and towering bank. For students who like to feel like royalty when studying, this is the place to go.

The café is so beautiful and spacious—it has even been used to take wedding photos.  Given the spaciousness and high ceilings, this place is ideal for people who like to study in open spaces.

It is also an interesting place to study alone or with a friend, because it feels like you are working in an office. The atmosphere offers the necessary motivation to get things done.

Small cubicle spaces are available for free next to the long main tables. Others cubicles, with access to a computer, cost $25 an hour. This café  also has a sofa lounge, for a more comfortable study experience.

While the food and coffee are exquisite, the prices are a bit higher, which is a bit of a downfall.  Lattés and cappuccinos are in the $5 range, and sandwiches and salads range from $10 to $15.

Café Aunja
1448 Sherbrooke St. West
Open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Wifi: yes
Outlets: many

Photo by Joyce Salem

Among the other options, Café Aunja is one of the closest to Concordia’s Loyola campus. It’s also one of the more charming options.

During the week, this spot can get packed, but on weekends the place slows down and students can have a couch or table to study comfortably at.

The music in the café is calming. The place isn’t dead quiet, chatter is part of the package, but as in many other cafés, chatter can quickly become quiet background noise.

Behind the counter, there’s a little living room-style section, where people usually take a break from studying while waiting for their coffee. The place is cozy and small, a kind of home-away-from-home nook for studying.

Toi, Moi & Café
2695 Notre-Dame St. West
Open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays,
and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.
Wifi: yes
Outlets: few

Photo by Joyce Salem

At this little bistro near the Lionel-Groulx metro station, students have the option of starting their day with a latte and ending it with a celebratory glass of wine. The experience includes table service and friendly staff.

Outlets to plug computers are harder to come by here, but there are nevertheless a few spread out around the bistro.

The tables are far apart, making this place ideal for students who prefer to be in their bubble and forget there are other people are around them.

It might seem odd to study in a bistro, but the soft jazz music and relaxed vibe at Toi, Moi & Café make the place just as ideal for an end-of-term study sesh as any other café.


Opinions: Balance is the name of the game

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

As August comes to an end, students everywhere prepare for the inevitable: a new semester.  It’s seen as an opportunity to start over. By buying overpriced pens, notebooks, iPads, and other gadgets, they prepare for what they hope will be a better school year. More importantly, they set goals. This year, these students will be exemplary students. Gone will be the all-nighters and cramming sessions. Or will they?

The truth is that people’s old habits will soon return. Once midterms come around, students may find themselves watching an entire season of Breaking Bad instead of working on their Reli 300 papers, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some students’ bad habits, like procrastination, for example, may not be as black and white as they seem. Other seemingly good habits, like the ability to study all day, may not be any better. When it comes to school, extremes are never the solution. The trick is to balance studying with social lives and hobbies, (like catching up on Breaking Bad).

According to a study entitled “Coping with employee, family, and student roles: evidence of dispositional conflict and facilitation tendencies,” done by Julie McCarthy of the University of Toronto and Tracy Hecht of Concordia University, constantly studying can cause issues like stress and over-exhaustion, and procrastinating a little can help with those issues.

McCarthy and Hecht looked at three study methods used by students: solution-driven active engagement (problem-focused), venting to others (emotion-focused) or ignoring those problems altogether and distracting ourselves with other activities (avoidance-focused).

The conclusion was that, when participants procrastinated for a while and forgot about their issues, they had an easier time balancing their workload. “This technique is traditionally seen as ‘running away from your problems’,” McCarthy said, in an article published by the University of Toronto, March 29, 2011.“But maybe by backing-off and taking breaks, students are able to replenish their resources.”

Students should not throw their books to the side just yet. It’s important to note that it’s all about balance.

Another study, entitled “Relationship between procrastination and academic performance,” was performed among a group of undergraduate dental students in India. Results showed what many people naturally deduce through their own experiences; procrastination leads to lower grades.

Overall, it’s all about balance. A little break from a demanding assignment can help with stress levels, but an excessively long break can lead to grades that are below average. As McCarthy said, “People need time to refocus in order to learn or study well.”


Exit mobile version