A lot of the posts I’ve been reading over the past couple of weeks are very much focused around working towards ‘finals’, or indeed, for British bloggers (& 90% of my friends on Facebook) stressing about a mountain of assignments and a looming Dissertation deadline.
As I said in my previous post, I’m finding third year quite the struggle, but there’s one thing that really seems to help me focus and hopefully, it’ll help my fellow students too should they do the same!
I think it’s pretty common for people to play music in the background or listen to the radio while they work, if that works for you then great, you can stop reading here (but please don’t)!
I find that listening to music distracts me, though that might be because I tend to listen to music that I really love and usually end up dancing around my room to instead of actually getting any work done…
ANYWAY, last summer I stumbled upon a record shop in the middle of an amazing vintage store in Chester (Becnicks, for the sake of the locals) and I ended up buying a couple of vinyl records despite the fact that I didn’t even have a player for them. That was quickly rectified. From there I sort of became addicted to buying vinyl, and have now accumulated a little collection of Pop, Rock and Classical records.
For whatever reason, I tend to find that playing these records help me focus more in doing my work than any of my playlists on Spotify or my iTunes music library.
So, which records do I like best? (I’ll do a Top 5)
5 – Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga ‘Cheek to Cheek’
I can’t talk about music without talking about this woman. Given I’m such a huge fan I tend to find Gaga’s music suits absolutely ANY occasion. Funeral? How about ‘So Happy I Could Die’ or ‘Speechless’, Wedding? ‘Marry The Night’ or ‘They All Laughed’… you can play Gaga any-time!
When people think of Gaga they think of ‘Just Dance’, ‘Poker Face’ and ‘Bad Romance’, loud electronic dance music, but this (Grammy Award-winning) album is totally different. Tony and Gaga sing a selection of jazz classics with a brilliant swing-band behind them, and while I usually end up singing along to every song (driving my house-mates insane) it still helps me get organised and smash out some quality (in my opinion) work.
4 – Meatloaf – Bat out of Hell
I bought this record at a store in Greenwich last October while I was down for the weekend to see Lady Gaga at the O2 Arena with my mother (see, Gaga pops up everywhere). We were wandering around killing a bit of time exploring the area, and had just been to see the Cutty Sark when we stumbled upon a quaint record store with a vintage shop tagged on next to it. I was idly flicking through the extensive collection and spotted a PRISTINE copy of Bat out of Hell for £9 and I knew I had to have it. I’d actually been looking for a copy of it here in Chester but just couldn’t find it anywhere (maybe I’m not looking hard enough, I’ll never know), so I knew I couldn’t just leave it behind.
The only issue then was how to pack it carefully enough that the record wouldn’t get scratched or bent in transit… but I managed it fine and am currently enjoying the vocal brilliance of Mr Meatloaf and the compositional excellence of Jim Steinman as I write.
My favourite track has to be ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ because the story behind it is quite amusing to me, and it also reminds me of the friend that introduced me to this album in the first place.
3 – Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake & Sleeping Beauty – Performed by the Leopold Stokowski New Philharmonia Orchestra
This record purchase was largely inspired by watching the BBC Proms last year and remembering how much I loved playing in Brass and Jazz bands over the years. Sure, we didn’t exactly play the canonical pieces, but we DID play the Pirates of the Caribbean score, ‘Breakout’ from Lord of the Dance, ‘Rockin’ Robin’ at Christmas and the Family Guy theme tune, amongst many other things.
Pop-culture-y pieces are great, but it’s also really good to hear the classics done properly!
2 – David Bowie – Space Oddity
This is one of the two records I first bought, the other being Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’, obviously.
I’ll be honest here, I only really wanted this because I thought I’d look dead good having it.. that doesn’t mean I don’t like Bowie, or that I had never heard him before playing this record.
I had heard him, I have albums on my iPhone and frequently play them, so I don’t think that makes me a total dick, does it?
Ah shit, never mind.
Needless to say this album is brilliant, and given his success, everyone else thinks the same. I doubt he’ll rest any easier knowing he has my seal of approval, but he has it anyway!
1 – Gustav Holst The Planets – Performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra
I’ve put this at number one because, well, have you heard it?!
I think people will most likely know ‘Jupiter, the Bringer of Jolity’ which is sometimes played on the last night of the Proms and otherwise known as ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’, a particularly patriotic British piece often played alongside Jerusalem and Rule Britannia.
Aside from this the entire suite is dedicated to the planets, and is in my opinion the first Science Fiction ‘soundtrack’ worth listening to. My favourite has to be Mars, because the piece is so dark and loud, not to mention the fact that I can pick out the line I’d be playing if I ever played it, which is cool… for me.
So the reason I tend to play classical (granted it’s pretty basic classical but classical music has a pretty VAST catalogue) over music with lyrics put to them is basically because it stops me from getting distracted and singing along. I think I fail as a woman in confessing this, but I can’t seem to sing and do work at the same time, I like to put effort into both, and because I will have an audience for both tasks (as I’ve said before, my house-mates can always hear me, so I make an effort.. not sure they see it that way, but they’ve never said anything before so…) I want to do them both properly!
Did I save myself there?
Anyway, what do you do to help yourself concentrate?
Are you a lover of vinyl like me or do you just blast Spotify and turn it down when the ads are on? (I do that too, so sodding annoying!)
Tweet me @alejashleigh or comment below and let me know!
P.s. To all my fellow students, WE’VE GOT THIS GUYS!
Good luck and keep going, it’ll be over soon so just enjoy it (if you can)!