With age comes wisdom, and over the years, I’ve managed to learn that some things are inseparable, like peanut butter and jelly, hot chocolate on a rainy day, and my fingers after using super glue. Only recently did I discover that two more of my personal interests go together hand in hand: developing and music! No, I’m not talking about developing music applications for artists, but about integrating two creative worlds from my life (and if I’m not mistaken, from every developer’s life).
In this post, I want to invite you on an exciting journey: a day in the life of a developer who is addicted to music!
9:00 a.m., early morning, only a few birds are chirping, the sun has barely risen, and it’s only me and a few more early risers in the office. That’s me; I’m a morning person.
I know I have a long day ahead of me, with at least 10 hours of stretching the limits of my imagination, providing quick and quality solutions, and working my fingers to the bone (OK, let’s not exaggerate, the worst case is a few cracked knuckles).
So, I need a song that will make my body wiggle, my pelvis jiggle, and that might even convince me to get up from my chair and kick up my feet. (It’s a good thing there are few people in the office at this time. There’s a reason I’m a developer and not a cheerleader.)
An hour later, people start coming into the office. This is my chance to put everyone in an electrifying mood. As a frontend developer, I need everyone with me: the backend developers (because they provide me with information), the testing team (because they give me work) and the automation developers (because I always break their tests…sorry).
So, bouncy, upbeat songs are a must for this time of day to get everyone in a unified and effective rhythm. I believe that the development team has to be in harmony. If we’re synchronized, we work (and sound) better. There is only one person who can do it right, and that’s David Guetta. No one can resist his samplers, his choice of sounds, or his words (let me know if you find someone who can).
The day goes by, it’s 2:00 PM, and we’re all stuffed after lunch. The atmosphere is relaxed and the work is routine. At this point, I turn into Goldilocks and the world is my three bears. My song list has to include songs that aren’t too loud but aren’t too quiet, not too upbeat but not too slow, pleasant but not elevator music. I need comfortable afternoon songs.
A song that totally fits these demands is Sia’s Soon We’ll be Found. The drums are relaxed, the guitar is soothing and Sia’s voice moves everyone.
But what happens when I get stuck on a bug in the middle of the day? This problem also has a musical solution! In that case (OK…cases…I have bugs…) the ideal song is one that gets me in the zone, a song that externalizes my creative side, a song that is my song, the one I’ll never skip through, the one I’ll listen to any version of. I know its lyrics and the role of each instrument. When this song is played, that bug won’t stand a chance. It’s in my territory and there’s no way back!
Cue Don’t Speak by No Doubt. That bug won’t bother me anymore.
After many hours of routine work, we have to stop for a moment, break our routine so we don’t degenerate, and energize. These are the moments “silly songs” are meant for; the songs no one will ever play seriously in the “open space” because they raise eyebrows, but we all know that actually, everyone is melting on the inside like ice cream on a hot day.
These songs throw you to a different place and to a different time when you didn’t have troubles or worries and only had fun. For me, those are usually songs from children’s shows, and we usually twist their words.
It’s late and we’re desperate. Now is the time for a “musical game show.” The requirements: an open space with a bunch of people, a team member that acts as the host, a computer, quality speakers, and a fast internet connection. The host chooses a theme, let’s say Hollywood movies, and starts playing a song, like From Russia With Love. The first to guess which movie the song is from (James Bond) wins world fame! (Or the last chocolate bar left.)
Here are some ideas for themes: TV show theme songs, songs from commercials, songs from reality shows.
Dos and Don’ts for Listening to Music While Developing
Do be open to new genres and new versions of songs you’ve heard. You never know where inspiration might come from!
Don’t leave your music playing at full volume while you’re not at your desk. Sometimes, we need to defend our exotic decisions, and if we’re not there to do so, we will need to deal with some angry faces when we come back.
Do use headphones. Sometimes, you need to isolate yourself. If you need to concentrate, that’s fine, as long as you find the time to take the headphones off and listen to others.
Don’t concentrate on the song lyrics instead of the code. Otherwise, you will need to explain why your code rhymes.
I love music. I think music helps us express our feelings and our creativity, and that’s why it’s directly connected to development, where we need to bring the most creative solutions possible and our unique way of thinking. It only makes sense that music accompanies us during the day.
What about you? What are your favorite songs that you hear in loops? Who are the artists you are touched by the most? Who is your company's DJ? Most importantly, what do you do to stay focused and de-stress at work?
Let us know in the comments section!