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What have UMN students been listening to while studying?

From jazz to rap to indie, 11 students from 10 different campus study spots share their study music favorites.
Image by Dean Tan
A student studies while listening to music in Walter Library, Monday, Oct. 3.

Ever look at someone in Walter Library with headphones on and wonder, what are they listening to?

A&E set out to ten different study spots around campus to ask their hardworking peers just that question. Unsurprisingly, most said their study playlists curated a calmer vibe from the likes of Phoebe Bridgers or Joni Mitchell.

No matter if the listeners’ taste skewed more Taylor Swift or Kanye West, these 11 students shared not just their recs, but a bit about themselves too. Talking about one’s music taste means talking about one’s comforts or past too.

Here’s what they had to say.

Mikayla Hegrenes – Walter Library

Hegrenes is a fourth-year student, an English major and a Swiftie. “I like to listen to music that I know all the words to, so it doesn’t distract me. Currently, I’m listening to Taylor Swift. I am preparing for her new album,” Hegrenes said.

When working on English homework, she also listens to Joni Mitchell for motivation. “I’m just obsessed with her, and I think her words make me want to write.”

Anton Semenov – Moos Tower

Semenov, a third-year neuroscience major, said his music does not change between studying and leisurely listening.

“I like to listen to R&B, chill rap and hip-hop. I’ve been listening to a lot of NAV, Pop Smoke and Tory Lanez. It just comforts me,” Semenov said.

Liana Johnson and Nina Charlier – West Bank Plaza

Johnson and Charlier, two second-year dance majors, both said they rarely take up studying with books and note-taking anymore for their classes, but when they do, they have a music taste that is described as “lowkey.”

Johnson recommended the song “Autumn Nocturne” by Lou Donaldson. “It’s like an instrumental, really chilled out jazz situation. It’s the tap dancer in me coming out.”

Charlier likes the song “Rearrange Us” by Mt. Joy. “It’s good for studying because it’s very lowkey and kinda like background music.”

Julia Cincotta – Coffman Union

Cincotta is a senior majoring in health services management. When it’s time to hit the books, Cincotta goes for Lana Del Rey, Mac DeMarco and Kanye West.

“It’s kinda just what I always listen to. I guess Kanye isn’t really calm, but I usually try to listen to quieter, calmer music,” Cincotta said.

Owen Stephenson – Middlebrook Hall

Stephenson is a Middlebrook Hall community advisor majoring in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology. This College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences (CFANS) third-year student loves indie music but was caught by A&E adventuring outside the genre.

“It’s whatever I’m feeling, but it’s usually indie vibes like Peach Pit or Sarah and the Sundays. Right now though, I’m listening to Kanye,” he said.

Cindy Hong – Caribou Coffee on Washington Avenue

Hong is a third-year student majoring in psychology. She listens to a wide range of music while she does her schoolwork.

“Usually I listen to rap songs, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande or Justin Bieber, but when I want to focus, I listen to lo-fi or piano music. It calms me down and helps me focus,” Hong said.

Kerrigan Harrelson – Wilson Library

Harrelson is a first-year biology student who said she developed her music taste while living in the South.

“I like country music, but that’s just me. I listen to Kane Brown. It helps me focus,” Harrelson said.

Meg Polance – Keller Hall

Polance is a second-year computer science student who listens to a jazz playlist while she studies because there are no words.

“It’s background music, it’s relaxing and it’s not too distracting, so I can still get my stuff done,” Polance said.

Josie Johnson – The Graduate Hotel

Johnson, a second-year industrial and systems engineering student, likes different types of music for different study situations.

“I definitely like more chill music most of the time like Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift, but when I’m really grinding, I listen to rap. On a night like tonight, I like to be a lot more relaxed, but fast, upbeat music gets me more in the zone, and it helps me focus,” she said.

Jason Zhao – Starbucks on Washington Avenue

Zhao is a first-year computer science student who likes to listen to music from all sorts of languages while studying.

“I listen to some French, some Japanese and some English. French music sounds peaceful, and I like English rap. Japanese is kind of like both,” Zhao said.

Zhao said it is all about setting the mood, adding that, “sometimes, when I listen to rap, it makes me work faster and respond quicker to things.”

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