Three quarters of students studying for their exams this year are listening to orchestral music to help them revise, according to new research from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The research quizzed more than 250 students currently preparing for their exams. Of this cohort, 75% of them said that orchestral music was playing a role in helping them to revise.

The survey comes on top of recent studies that have shown that orchestral music can boost mental energy and improve cognitive function, improve mood, and aid sleep and motivation.

Of the different genres of orchestral music that students were listening to, film soundtracks featured at the top of the playlist. Of those who listened to music while studying, 44% said the likes of Hans Zimmer and John Williams were seeing them through their revision.

Symphonies and concertos came next in the revision league tables, with 35% saying this was their favourite listening. Orchestral music from musicals (23%) and video games (32%) also proved popular revision aids.

Pic: CollegeDegrees360
Many students are turning to orchestral music as a soundtrack for their studies. Pic: CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr

Separate research by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra found that four in five people aged under 25 said they relied on music during lockdown in 2021 to evoke calmness and well-being in their lives, while 88% said it inspired them and lifted their spirits.

James Williams, managing director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, said: '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.

'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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'More importantly, these results give a sense of the value placed on orchestral music as a part of their day-to-day lives. We saw in lockdown – another stressful time for many – how young people in particular relied on orchestral music for their wellbeing, relaxation and happiness. The support music can offer during tough times forges a relationship for the long term.'

Pic: Getty Images


Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.