Classical Music and Studying - The Surprising Truth


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            Considering the fact that I have three exams this upcoming week, my entire Sunday was spent studying. I usually start by finding a quiet place, but recently I haven't been studying in complete silence - I've been listening to classical music while I study. Why? I don't know... I guess I heard somewhere that it helps you stay focused. But is this true?

            According to the University of Phoenix, "music stimulates different parts of the brain." So, how effective is this stimulation while studying? Elizabeth Axford, a professor at the University, concluded that there is no direct link - it depends entirely on the individual. Some people are able to study with music on in the background, while others are distracted by it. Surprisingly, "according to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, students who studied with music playing had lower average tests scores than those who didn't." However, this study did not take into account how often the students listened to music or what kind of music they listened to.

            Okay, I'll admit it: I'm not a "fan" of classical music; I've just been listening to it while I study because I read somewhere once that it would help me. But according to the evidence I've found so far, it isn't necessarily helping me... So now what?

            Well actually, the music could be beneficial to me - but not because of the "classical genre" itself. Axford points out that many of her students have listened to classical music while studying because of what they call the "so-called Mozart Effect, a set of research results that asserts listening to classical music provides short-term enhancement of mental tasks -- including memorization -- known as spatial-temporal reasoning." Unfortunately, according to multiple studies, this "Mozart-Effect" can be demonstrated when listening to multiple genres of music as long as the songs do not have lyrics.

            The bottom line: it depends on the person, but you can't go wrong with studying in silence. It's easy to get caught up in a song, especially if it's upbeat or contains lyrics that you find yourself singing along to. But I still find myself wondering if all of this is due to the music itself, or if it's all in our heads? Do we "study" better with music because we read somewhere that we should, or is it actually helping us? After these discoveries, I've decided that I'm going to look into additional genres of music to play in the background while I study and see how they influence my performance. However, I am curious about my classmates- do you study with music? If so, what kind? Do you feel like it helps you?

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9 Comments

This is so interesting because last year during mid-terms and finals that's all I listened to. I have a pretty broad range of music choices. I listen to everything from country to rap. And I have to say it didn't really help me much. The lack of lyrics, however, was a lot better compared to listening to music with lyrics because the additional words didn't distract me from the reading material. I also tried listening to movie soundtracks without lyrics. The problem with that though was that when I recognized the song I would lose my train of thought. Perhaps that's the only reason classical music is better to listen to. because most students do not listen to it on a daily basis.

I tried listening to classical music during studying last year and found myself even more distracted than I did when I listened to my regular music. I was constantly thinking of whether I liked or didn't like the song, than actually paying attention to what I was studying.

I always try to listen to music when I study because I hate dead silence, but in reality, I know that I do work better without it. If I am in a public space studying, I almost always have to have music on. Although music can be a distraction, other people's conversations are more of a distraction and the music helps me to focus in that setting.

It's really interesting to see that something we always thought to be true, and never even questioned, turns out not to be so real after all.

My friends told me they listen to classical music while study and when I heard this is was shocked. Not only do they not listen to that genre of music, but I didn't know how they listened to music while studying. I know myself and I know it needs to be dead silent while I study or I get distracted.
I have also heard before that classical music is linked to how smart you are. After reading this blog I wanted to know if this was true. This article (http://www.psmag.com/culture-society/classical-music-linked-to-high-intelligence-27959/) says yes, smarter people listen to classical music. Researcher Satoshi Kanazawa believes that smarter people can understand the classical music better than other people because they do not need the lyrics.
I think everyone has their preferences, mine is dead silence while studying. If I study in silence I do better on homework/tests then I do when I am distracted.

Like you, I have been studying a lot because I have two exams tomorrow. I'm a bad at studying, though. No matter how much or little I try to study, my grades never change. During finals week, however, I try to "crack down" on how much more I study. I force myself to really focus and learn all of the material in hopes of increasing my previous exam grades. I listen to music as I study to comfort myself. I listen to all types, though. You picked a really interesting topic because I often wonder if classical music helps people study better or not. I have never tried, but I have heard of people saying it's true. Interestingly enough, I found an article that teaches you how to listen to music while studying, along with what kind. I've never thought about the way I listen to music, but this article makes it more interesting. I think it's something I'll try next time.

I find this blog and the ensuing conversation here really interesting. I usually just do my day-to-day work in silence, and I focus fine but tire quickly from the tediousness. Therefore, when studying for exams or researching for a paper, I do listen to music to try and keep myself awake and in the work. It can never have lyrics though, or like everyone else seems to agree, I get really distracted and start humming along or even writing down the lyrics instead of notes (unintentionally).

Classical music works alright for me, although to be honest I've found I greatly enjoy more modern instrumentals. Explosions in the Sky is a great indie-jam-instrumental band and their tracks usually help keep me calm and focused. However, the best thing I've found so far is actually beats (Ratatat instrumentals are probably my favorite study music). My best guess is that the beats are simple enough to not be too distracting at a lower volume but they "groove" just enough to keep my mind active and fresh just barely following along.

Fantastic choice of topic, Kara.

I am also being crammed with exams! I find this blog interesting simply because I always thought I was the "odd ball out". I have never had a successful study session while listening to music. I have tried numerous times, and even with various different genres. However, I could not focus. I would always end up singing along to a familiar song, or listening attentively to learn the new song.
After this "fail", I tried other techniques. I attempted studying in the HUB. I saw people do it all the time last year so why not? However, that was a horrible idea. Not only did I hardly get any work done, I also became one of the biggest eavesdropper in the area.
Now a sophomore, I have finally gotten my "groove". I just searched online and found a site that lists 10 studying techniques and realized that I follow the majority of them. I promise they work, give it a try if you're still struggling!

http://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits/000599?all=1

I love listening to classical music while studying. I find it very helpful with concentrating, as long as it isn too fast or too slow. If there are lyrics, forget it; I get too distracted singing along. Another great way for me to stay concentrated while studying is taking a break to exercise. Although I give up an hour to work out, when I get back to the books, I am more focused and am able to concentrate better. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/07/how-exercise-can-help-us-learn/?_r=0 check out this article to see how exercise helps our brains acquire more knowledge.

This is extremely interesting to me because I have tried listening to music and not listening to it while studying. In the end, I always realize that studying in silence works much better for me. Funny enough, if I do listen to music, I listen to the same song on repeat the entire time...it sounds weird but that works for me! If I am doing busy work I usually log on to www.8tracks.com and listen to a "studying" or "classical" playlist for some background noise. I agree with you, I think it definitely depends on the perosn but it's such an interesting topic to research!

This article was appealing to me because I tried to listen to all kinds of music when I studied. Rap, Pop, Rock, you name it. But, I found all of these too distracting with their fast beats and lyrics. Then I discovered classical music. It is very soothing and even studies show that it helps stimulate the brain. Unfortunately, I still found it slightly distracting. Then I discovered brain stimulating music. I haven't been able to find many studies that actually prove it works, but it is rumored to help the mind retain information while studying. Either way I really enjoy it because it is soft and smooth, yet takes you away from the quiet whispers and typing of the library. Here is an example of this type of music if you care to check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLjMyORJxgY

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