Studying with Music!



When I was in high school and did homework in the house, my mom always would get mad at me for listening to music while doing work.  I always told her and really did believe that it helped me study, but does music actually help people study?  I found out that I was right!  Music is a natural way to increase energy and alertness and keep people focused on their studies instead of outside distractions.  Classical music is especially helpful.  A study was conducted by the Standard University School of Medicine where researchers played random 18th century symphonies to subjects and scanned their brains with an MRI.  The music actually activated certain areas of the brain.  These areas were all involved with predicting, paying attention, and memorizing details.  The researchers concluded that there is a "concrete physiological link between the acts of listening to music and learning."  This is very true for me, but I wonder if certain types of music are more effective in helping people study.  They only used classical music in this study.  They should've conducted more studies and played a variety of music, like jazz, hip-hop, rock, etc.  I feel like the type of music has a big effect because classical music is calm and soothing, while rock music might be more distracting and not help people study because it is loud and consumes people.  The website suggests good study music are songs by Mozart and songs with no lyrics.  In my opinion, only this type of music will help people study.  For me at least, if I know the words to a song I will end up singing it instead of studying.  What do you guys think? Is classical/no lyric music the only songs that help people study, or can you study while listening to rock and hip-hop too?


Actually, I think that studying with music might be in the same category as texting in class. In Psychology the other day, we learned just how limited that which is taken into the long term memory and therefore able to be retrieved later. Even though sensory memory has a large capacity, you can take in a lot of things at once, your ATTENTION limits the actual intake of those details into working then long term memory. Science Daily article speaks about a study which was done of college students who text in class. The conclusion was that even though some think they can multitask while learning, they actually can not because of the lack of attention leading to the memory dilemma. Although, it occurs to me that "learning" new materials as opposed to "rehearsing" old materials might be impacted different by music. Attention impacts what makes it into working memory, while nothing is said about its impact on the way to long term memory.

A lot of my friends listen to classical music when they study and say it is helpful. Personally I can't listen to music at all when I study because I will get really distracted. But I agree with your opinion that they should conduct studies with different types of music, possibly more distracting and less soothing ones. Songs with lyrics definitely get you to want to sing along causing a distraction while classical music is more calming. I found this ( article that says that it basically all depends on "how your brain is programmed." I guess that would be right. Different people respond differently to music and have different study habits. Studying with music can help some or hinder others. It all depends on how you concentrate better. I doubt that hip-hop and rap help anyone study, but for all we know someone can find that kind of music soothing. I think it all depends on preference.

I study while listening to music all of the time because it traps out excess noise for me, like screaming in the hallway or the TV. I've often wondered if it was a good idea for me to do this since I can get very focused on the music and not the work, but I think it is better than paying attention to other distractions. I found this article ( which basically says that listening to music is a huge distraction. I rarely try studying in silence, and when I do, I get bored easily. At least the music motivates me to keep working. For example, I don't flip around songs while I'm working. Instead, I make a set playlist, often to time up with how long I plan on working. Then, I can just plug in the music and go. However, I can understand how listening to some types of music can be difficult. If you're listening to brand new music, you're trying to digest it and learn the words, and it is totally distracting. I usually avoid that. I've never tried studying with classical music, but I have friends who say it has actually made a difference, so maybe I will have to change up my views. Still, I probably will keep the headphones in next time I plan on studying!

While I agree with most of what was being said, i think there are some other variables to be considered here. First of all, I listen to music during periods of time where I am studying, and i think that its safe to assume that good portion of students around the nation do as well. However, I believe that the success of that period of time in which you study depends on the environment that one is studying in. For example, some have talked about how the music helps to ignore the other distractions that are occurring. Well, what if someone is studying in the dead quiets of the library stacks, where there are minimal other distractions, what role will music play in the success of studying then? I think that one of the best ways to move forward in this situation would actually go around and get data on the matter. Asking people questions like what type of environments they study in most, and what type of music they listen to while they study, as well as their successes while listening to music versus not listening to music will help get a better grasp on the topic and get a personal sense of how people respond to music when directly involved in their study habits. This article helps to delve into the noises and distractions that help or hinder a study environment.

Apart from the music acting as a distraction from other distractions, maybe it's a good idea to listen to music when studying certain subjects. When blogging, I find it extremely difficult to type out my thoughts while listening to a song. I can't seem to get my brain to memorize things with background music playing either. A study conducted at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, United Kingdom, revealed findings that the different words or sounds in a song may actually alter our memorization ability (link posted below). Although the study was small, the findings were different than the many studies mentioned above claiming music helps us learn. Until the study is repeated we will not know for sure if memorization is altered while listening to music. This is an interesting subject, but hard to find an answer because of the many confounding variables which go along with the studies conducted: music genres, lyrics or no lyrics, subjects being learned, types of learners, brain function, age, etc. Is there a way to control all of these variables in one study to produce a confident answer?

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Everyone has heard of them as being the best car out there, mainly cause of gas prices. Hybrids are sweeping…
People everywhere are breaking up, just in time for the holidays. And the more couples I see parting ways, the…
Pregnancy Tests
While browsing Andrew's blog and looking to see all of the posts that I missed (I'm pretty sure I haven't…

Old Contributions