Tunes for surviving finals.


author: quinn bell | a&c writer

More like MyTunes, am I right? / Pixabay

Tunes for surviving finals.

Crunch time is now upon us, but let’s not dwell on that too long. There is always a way out of the stress, if only for a few minutes, for a couple of breaths. For some, it’s yoga; for others, it’s hitting the gym. I, for one, am greatly indebted to music for its role both in helping me to focus on work and to work on unwinding once it’s finally time to loosen up a bit. 

Anyone who’s seen my Spotify knows that I listen to a ton of unorthodox stuff, so I’ll spare the readers any great details about my own music library. That said, when I’ve needed a pick-me-up lately, I’ve been jamming to Lucy by Still Woozy, raingurl by Yaeji, and Ithaca by Beatenburg. And so much more. In terms of weird and mellow stuff for studying, I’ve really been digging into the Marginalia playlist by Masakatsu Takagi. It’s fragmented, odd, natural piano music, and you can really tell this guy lives alone all artsy in the mountains. 

While it’s nice to rely on one’s own tried and true tunes, sometimes it can be all too easy to fall back into the same old listening patterns. So, I wanted to reach out to a good assortment of students and ask them what they’ve been listening to. I asked them to tell me about an albumplaylist, or song that has been getting them through this crunch time. The results are all so completely different, it’s wonderful. Because we each have our own way of getting through things, right now. Take care of each other! 

Thank you to everyone who contributed, and best of luck with the end of the semester. We’re almost through this, and I hope these wildly different song selections can help you out along the way. 

Firstly, I asked fourthyear International Studies student Brendan Anderson about what’s been getting him through these tough times. I figured this guy would have a rockin’ sense of music, and I’m glad to say I was right. Shou tout to Brendan for also being an amazing photographer and travel blogger. 

I have Young the Giant’s 2011 self-titled album on repeat right now. I can’t listen to music with words while I study, but I’ll throw this on whenever I need a break. It’s the perfect soundtrack for pretty much everything  cooking, working out, drowning out the sound of my parents asking me what I’m going to do with my life  and it just has this energy that reminds me crunch time is almost over and summer’s around the corner!’ 


Next up is Ethan Butterfield, our resident a & c editor. When he’s not hard at work keeping me in line or taking ground-breaking interviews with celebrities, you’ll find him reviewing video games, sipping a coffee, or reminding people to take it easy. We appreciate it, Ethan! 

With regard to a song I’m listening to that’s helping me through crunch time, I have a couple on the go at the moment (I like to keep a wide range). There’s “Spiderwebs” by No Doubt, “Black Eyes” by Bradley Cooper from A Star is Born, “Come As You Are” by Nirvana, basically anything with a 90s sound to it. With an album, however, I’ve been listening to Scenery & Fish by I Mother Earth and Throwing Copper by Live… because the 90s I guess. Something about the lyrics, the rhythm, and just the general sound really helps me relax and take in the positive things. 


I also caught up with Kelsey Briens, a fourthyear Actuarial Science Major. You can usually catch her schooling everyone in the room on craft beer, tickling the jazz piano keys, crunching numbers in an Ac. Sci course, or, naturally, rocking out (metalling out?) at a death metal show. Cheers! 

‘During finals, I like to listen to either death metal or classical music (music that either doesn’t have lyrics or lyrics I can’t understand). I find death metal helps me focus and builds up my energy when I feel tired, especially before finals. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Decrepit Birth, Cattle Decapitation, and Cannibal Corpse. So, I guess for me, it’s not really an album but a sub genre.’ 


Dominic Ghiglione is a bit of a prince of the trombone, working his way into the big leagues of music performance and education. So, it figures that he wouldn’t disappoint in his killer song recommendations. Man, Jaco is the best. Joni even more so. 

Hejira by Joni Mitchell. One of my favourite albums of all time featuring the amazing bassist Jaco Pastorius. His warm open chords on the bass and Joni’s meaningful lyrics help me calm down and process. My favourite tracks include “Coyote,” “Hejira” and “Black Crow.” 


Finally, I got to chat with Brianna Ludwig, a multi-talented student musician focused on klezmer and classical, with a heck of a knack for East Asian languages. Brianna also recommends that anyone looking for a little musical pick-up follow @KlarinetKrew on instagram: they’re the U of R clarinet students and they sure do brighten one’s day. 

With finals and juries coming up, it is such a stressful time. I am always very tense, which makes it very hard to play the clarinet properly where I need to be relaxed. One of the ways I use to find my relaxed state in all this chaos is actually listening to lo-fi jazz playlists on YouTube or Spotify. Specifically, the Rainy Days lo-fi playlist on Spotify. The music is very calming for me and brings me into this state of relaxation. 

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