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Film composer John Williams (Image courtesy: Steinway & Sons)

Classical Music Boosts Students' Exam Studying in the UK

In new research done by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 75% of British students are listening to orchestral music to help them study


As reported by BBC Music, new research by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) involved surveying over 250 students currently preparing for exams — 75% of which explained orchestral music was assisting with their exam studying.

Of the many different types of orchestral music chosen by students for study, film soundtracks were the most popular — 44% cited composers Hans Zimmer and John Williams as their top picks. 

Additionally, 35% of students claimed symphonies and concertos as favorites for studying, 23% opted for orchestral music from musicals, and 32% preferred soundtracks from video games.

This study joins many others by the RPO, including one conducted in December 2022, where young people were revealed to be more likely to listen to orchestral music daily than their parent’s generation; and another on music and mental health in 2020, showing that orchestral music boosted mood, wellbeing, and productivity in work and study.

Further, the RPO’s March 2022 report found that of those who used music to focus, just under a quarter listened to a form of classical music, which was the genre of choice for 22% of surveyed listeners out of nine other genres — the first being pop music, which stood at 25%. 

“Orchestral music has a proven timeless appeal,” RPO’s music director, Vasily Petrenko posted on Facebook. “It touches every human emotion. It can be good for relaxing and well-being, it can help you focus and can inspire you and bring out your passions, self-belief and ambitions,” he added. “It goes further, wider and deeper than a lot of pop music and has a language of its own that goes far beyond words.”

“Young people sitting exams in the next few weeks have had one of the toughest lead-ups of any generation, with the disruption that COVID-19 caused adding layers of anxiety,” said RPO’s managing director James Williams.

“We all know the tremendous benefits and power that listening to music can have over both thoughts and emotions, with endless studies showing the positive effects music can have to help during a period of intense study. It is hugely positive that young people are taking advantage of these benefits to give themselves the best chance of doing well.”

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