According to a New York Times Article, “The Power of Music, Tapped in a Cubicle”,

“Some workers like to listen to music when they find themselves losing focus. They may also plug in their earbuds to escape an environment that’s too noisy — or too quiet — or to make a repetitive job feel more lively. In biological terms, melodious sounds help encourage the release of dopamine in the reward area of the brain, as would eating a delicacy, looking at something appealing or smelling a pleasant aroma, said Dr. Amit Sood, a physician of integrative medicine with the Mayo Clinic.”

Many of us like to listen to music while we work… Come into our office on any given day, you’ll see a few people with their headphones in and usually there’s a Pandora station playing over the speakers. I thought it might be interesting to learn about what people are listening to and why,  so I asked our staff:

  • What are your top 3 favorite songs/ bands/albums (your pick) to listen to while working?
  • Why those picks?

Here are the results of this very informal survey:


Pandora stations because I don’t dedicate the brain space to curating my own playlists.
  • Little Swing – Upbeat and energizing to keep me focused through a task that may not be inspiring on its own.
  • David Gray – Relaxing tunes that are nice to listen to when I’m in production mode at my desk.
  • No Diggity – Fun Friday mix that takes me back to my high school days.


  • Dave Brubeck and Stan Getz – It’s uptempo music without adding to my stress; plus no singer to distract me.
  • Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, OCMS – Reassuring to know that we all face challenges.
  • I know this is not music but I’ll listen to stand-up comedy – Jim Gaffagan, Daniel Tosh, Brian Regan to help me through the more tedious tasks of the day.


  • Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book. This is a great album that is well composed with raw lyrics and beautiful instrumentals.
  • Willow, all songs. She is a modern Fiona Apple!
  • Jamila Woods, HEAVN. Good lyrics and instrumentals.


  • Almost anything without words. EDM mostly, because it’s typically upbeat, repetitive, and with little or repetitive lyrics.
  • However, if I’m doing a repetitive task (like something in Revit) where I don’t have to “think” too much, I can do some songs with words, generally alternative, indie, hip hop or reggae.


While I am at work I spend a lot of time writing reports and emails and reading relevant documents and correspondence. Music with lyrics can sometimes break my concentration, so in these cases I have some favorites.

  • Classical Guitar music – This is more of a category than a particular album or artist. An example here would be the track “Jota” by an Uruguayan named Julio Martinez Oyanguren. In this track, he combines the more straightforward strumming of the strings with using the guitar body as a percussion instrument.
  • 50s/60s Jazz – The sophisticated cool of Mingus’ version of “Mood Indigo” would be one example.
  • Ragtime piano – Scott Joplin is one of the best American composers ever and his work, such as “The Magnetic Rag,” deserves every listening afforded to it.


I’m also a fan of Pandora stations, because they’re easy and it’s nice to be able to pause songs if you need to talk to someone or take a call.

  • Floater Radio- This station usually mixes in songs with heavier bass- Deftones, Rage Against the Machine, Tool, The White Stripes and others. It makes me feel energetic and happy, the perfect soundtrack for drafting.
  • LP Radio- This is a more lyrical station, and also a bit more modern, this station plays LP, Matt and Kim, Hozier, and Halsey… great for mulling over spreadsheets.
  • David Bowie Radio- Because, David Bowie. Always good, anytime. Nothing more needs to be said. 🙂