Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Does Listening to Music Help You Study?

Working at the Law Library, I meet a lot of students who spend time in the library, wearing their earbuds. I don't know what they are listening to, nor do I ask. But sometimes, I hear music in the stacks. A few stray notes will escape the earbuds and drift down the quite aisles of books.... Have you ever wondered whether listening to music while studying really helps people to learn? A recent study reported in the Daily Mail indicates that listening to music does not enhance a student's ability to concentrate.

Background music - a staple of students cramming for exams the world over - interferes with concentration, research shows.
Students who listened to their tunes while trying to memorise a list of letters fared worse than those who worked in silence, the British study found.
Even songs from their favourite bands proved more of a hindrance than a help.
Researchers from the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, tasked 25 students with memorising lists of consonants.
Some were shown the letters while sitting in silence, others while listening to music by their favourite bands or by groups they had a strong aversion to.
Listening to music - including tunes that they liked - hampered their recall, the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology reports.
This shows that listening to music, regardless of one's opinion to it, impairs the ability to memorise information in a set order, said researcher Dr Nick Perham.
The students were also tested while listening to a voice simply repeating the number three over and over again and while listening to a voice saying random numbers - something known as a changing-state sound.
Although the random numbers proved a distraction, the repetition of the number three didn't.
This suggests that it is not peace and quiet that is important when studying - but lack of change in any background noise.

What do you think? Does listening to music help you study? Does the information in this article give you any insights into music and other noises, and the impacts they can have on your ability to concentrate?


  1. It really helps me. I can't really concentrate without listening to music. I think that it helps if you are familiar with the music. For me, I put on songs with lyrics that I have memorized. That way, I am not concentrating on the lyrics while working. I get distracted VERY easily. I put headphones and listen to my favorite track, where I have memorized all the lyrics. Then, I'll get out my algebra or whatever and work on it. I listen to my favorite kind, R & B.
    Now, I know what you are thinking. "That kind of music makes you dance and move around. This girl is nuts to think it helps." Well, stop just right there. It does make me dance, but it also makes me forget that I'm doing homework or studying. It keeps my mind distracted so that NOTHING ELSE can distract me. It helps me stay concentrated. It's like, distracting yourself to keep yourself from getting distracted. I know that's kind of weird, but that's how I work. I know the lyrics, so I'm not trying to listen to the song. And, if I'm about to get distracted, I don't because the music is playing. It kind of helps me tune out of the world and concentrate. My mind works weird that way, but, hey, it works. Try it if you have trouble concentrating. Doing it can make the most boring assignment in the world fun!!!!

  2. A lot of the time if I am doing math, music helps me work at a faster pace and blocks out other distractions. When I am dealing with words, however, most music makes it impossible to focus. Music without lyrics, especially calm wordless music helps during these times. I have heard that orchestral music is helps but certain electronic songs are good as well. As long as it has no lyrics and is calm.

  3. I agree, depending on the subject, classical music helps with more intense homework such as math, but dance music helps me truck along with the research and not focus on the clock...and another can people think that its a bad idea to listen to music in class while doing assigned work....students will plug in and do their work..and NOT talk to other students in the class...and thoes that choose to talk will not be disturbing to the students who are working...I do not see the negative side to this you can tell i am 100% for listening to music while doing school work

  4. Music really helps me stay focused otherwise I look for something else to do to distract me. I listen to music that i do not understand like k-pop or Chinese music and because I cannot understand the lyrics its nice to just listen to the beat, but I am able to focus better. Reading a text I cannot do with music as I say the words in my head, but any computing or math related homework works well with music.

  5. Music can help you study.
    The reason why music will help you study is because your brain will get more focused when listening to the music in the background. Many would think just the opposite - that listening to music can't help you.
    A part of brain will always be busy with listening to the music in background and thus automatically increase your level of alert but also level of distraction. But listening to classic or instrumental music will not make you lose concentration! Please take a look at this brief article:
    Does music help you study?
    So in short, music can be helpful.
    Regards, Tim