Does listening to music improve study?

Music is huge in the eyes of University students. It is almost a must for students to have a music playlist or a paid music service. With the use of music among students rising and the discounted music service prices for students, it begs the question:

Does listening to music actually improve study?

Some students love listening to music but they don’t listen to it when they are studying as it is a major distraction and it defers them away from what they are trying to achieve. However, for the vast majority of students, they think that music helps their studying effectiveness and efficiency. Listening to music whilst studying decreases their chances of retaining any information they have read over and are actually found to be concentrating on the lyrics of a particular song rather than reading and understanding what they’re writing down.

Many studies have been undertaken as to whether or not background music effects the study patterns of University students. A study conducted in 2011 revealed that music components such as tempo and depth have a strong influence on learning results. Only music that was soft and fast had a positive influence whereas other music with different tempo and intensity interfered with the student’s learning. As well as this, another study found that instrumental music interferes with students much less than music with lyrics. It was also found that student features like musical expertise could also negatively affect the student’s learning due to their familiarity with the type of music.

The Mozart Effect is a sound theory refined by Doctor Gordon Shaw in the early 1990s. It indicates that listening to classical music will make you smarter. Although it has been widely disproved, there still are a few benefits of listening to music while studying. But there are two key points to remember about the Mozart Effect and its little effect on the effectiveness of study:

  • The effect is quite brief with the positive improvement only last for about 10-15 minutes.
  • The improvement is limited to a very hypothetical mental rotation task that is only a minor aspect of the equation when analysing intelligence

Music that is calming can help students overcome stress and anxiety while studying. Background music, in some cases, improve focus as it can provide motivation as well as supporting endurance throughout long study sessions. In few instances, music has helped students with memorising information through creating a positive mood, which incidentally boosts memory production.

Music can heavily distract a student’s study. Students who listen to loud music seem to struggle with reading comprehension and character. As well as this, soft music with a large amount of lyrics can distract and could have taken in less information. It is also well-known that students who utilise music as a way to memorise information sometimes need to listen to music while taking a test in order to receive the benefits of this type of study process. In a silent study hall with no music allowed, these students find it more difficult to recall important information (Kuepper-Tetzel, 2016).

Now, personally I love listening to music but it is a huge distraction when I’m trying to study. I often listen to music with loads of lyrics but when I’m studying I like to listen to slow tempo music with a small amount of lyrics. It allows me to concentrate on my studies instead of singing along to the song or rapping a few lines. On the other hand, I can understand why some students can’t study without listening to lyrical music as some songs have soothing lyrics or lyrics that mean something to the student.

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