Is Music Helpful for Studying?

Most students listen to music while studying. With either iPod in ears, iTunes through the computer or even “old fashioned” DVD player going, students across Australia tonight are listening to anything from Beyonce to Good Charlotte while they do their homework. In addition, inevitably parents in these houses walk past, wondering: “can they really concentrate with that going on in their ears?”

The truth is that there are significant advantages of listening to music while studying.

First, most students say listening to music helps them study for longer. This makes sense: homework can be boring. If something can make it slightly less boring, students are slightly more likely to keep doing it for longer. Advantage number two: listening to music has been found to be LESS distracting than listening to random office/household noise. Therefore, if the noise of the house is high, then having music to block that out can help students concentrate. Finally: research shows music usually puts students in a better mood. This is helpful because the better mood we are in, the longer we persist on hard tasks and the better we do at difficult tasks: good news for students.

Overall, listening to music when studying depends on your personality and preferences. Some people prefer no music saying they get distracted, cannot concentrate and start singing along or they listen to the music rather than studying. Other people may prefer to have light background music to fill as background noise and allow you to concentrate more on studying.

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Ultimately, it is up to you if you want to have music while studying. Try it out by listening to your favorite tunes, searching ‘study music’ on YouTube or ‘calming music’ on Spotify.

Is it Scientifically Proven?

Did the music affect the students’ comprehension? Well, yes and no. Comprehension decreased only for the fast and loud music condition.

Well, it is difficult to draw absolute conclusions on something so subjective. This is partly because there are so many other factors at play, including personality type, the type of work you are doing, personal preferences and the mood the music induces.

Perhaps the reason why music does not affect our thinking as much as it should is that music has the ability to put us in a better mood, which therefore increases our IQ.

However, before you start blasting music into your ears, ask yourself this:

How often do you listen to a Mozart piano sonata on your iPod when you study? Would a slow classical piece of music even get you in the mood to do some solid work?

If Mozart does not make your playlist, that is OK. It does not mean you must suffer in silence.

Here is our recommendation: if you find music motivating, if it helps you to study and sustains your attention on a task for that little bit longer, then you should not deprive yourself. Listen to music but choose your music carefully.