Zia Hassan

Music While I Work

+++ title = “09” date = 2019 +++

When I worked at a desk and did tasks that didn’t require much cognitive effort, I used to listen to the latest tunes on KCRW.

But when I became a teacher, and the types of things I’d have to write were more cognitively demanding, I moved to instrumental music. Something about lyrics seems to draw me in, and even in a subconscious way distracts me from the work I’m supposed to be doing.

These days, my days are filled with writing my new book, this blog, my journal… all require me to be able to access ideas and thoughts easily.

But even instrumental music these days has become distracting. Moving melody lines, beautiful harmonies… all of this is engaging, and draws me in.

So I have a new strategy: listening to ambient sound recordings. A calm lake, a beach, the ocean, a rainforest… there’s nothing to “follow” and these environments just take me in. I find that I can melt into them and write for hours. Brian Eno’s music is also like this, though there are few artists that do it like that.

Lesson: the backdrop you create for yourself matters.