When we hear the word music, our minds come across many trending songs and music because a song is incomplete without it. Music is nothing but a combination of vocals and instruments that produce harmony and expresses emotions. When we look around us, we come across two categories of the students; the ones who study with music on and the others who consider music as a distraction.
Well, as H.L. Mencken once said: “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” If you are learning new stuff, you need calm music or silence. Music affects us at the biological level. Internally, it can affect our blood pressure, heart rate, and hormones. Take a look around local libraries or Starbucks; you’ll see that most students are studying with their headphones or AirPods on. But, is it beneficial to listen to music while you study?
In the ’90s, the Mozart Effect (this refers to the theory that listening to music may temporarily boost scores on one portion of an IQ test) was applied to elementary school students. Several teachers used to play music in the classrooms for quick learning. Interestingly, in 2010, a meta-analysis was performed that determined dozens of studies on the Mozart effect to determine what the scientific literature had to say on the subject. They concluded that the Mozart effect does not improve children’s intelligence, academic achievement, and even long-term spatial skills.
According to a 2017 study, it was hypothesized that differences in attention and working memory capacity could affect the degree to which music would influence performance. They concluded that the higher an individual’s working capacity, the less likely they could be affected by music, at least for reading- comprehension tasks.
According to another study, an experiment was conducted in which they had students choose whether they wanted to study with music or silence. The researchers found that those who preferred to listen to music while studying did quite worse on a reading comprehension assessment. When talking about reading comprehension, most studies have demonstrated that music had negative effects. Only one study reported that reading comprehension was not affected by music.
Furthermore, when it comes to arithmetic, the results are quite mixed. Various studies demonstrated no negative effect, while many others demonstrated a clear decline. Another study proved that vocal music is more distracting than instrumental music. The theory behind this is that with vocals, your brain is multitasking by processing the voices and remembering new information while also processing the vocals. In short, if a person chooses to study with the music, he should go for the one that lacks vocals.
On the contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that classical music is preferable for studying. A rapid change in music also distracts you from learning, resulting in a decrease in your performance. Use music as a boost when your momentum begins to drop. When music enters your brain, it gets shuttled off to different parts like the hippocampus, cortex, and visual cortex – in short, it goes to both halves of the brain.
Slow music is always helpful in learning new information for some humans but not for everyone. On the other hand, music is a real distraction, and your mind is completely indulged in picking up the vocals. Some studies have also shown that you are likely to learn a new language or phrases quickly if you sing it.
How Can Music Help
Music offers several benefits, including increased motivation, better fatigue and pain management, enhanced mood, and improved brain stimulation and memory. These all benefits make it seem logical that music can enhance your studying.
Everyone has different opinions, and music affects everyone differently. So, the answer to the question of whether music help or not is not straightforward and is quite complicated. However, certain types of music can indeed boost your memory and attentiveness and increase alertness.
1. Music Can Improve Your Mood
Along with motivating you, the music also helps to promote an optimistic mindset and reduce stress. According to research, a good mood enhances learning outcomes. When you are feeling good, you will likely have more success with learning new material and studying.
Music can help you work effectively by making you feel relaxed.
2. Music Can Motivate You
The long and exhausting homework makes you want to quit even before starting. Promising a reward can help you get done with your work. A 2019 research suggests that music activates the same reward center in the brain as it happens for all the other things you enjoy. So, rewarding yourself with great music can work as a motivation to learn new information.
3. Help You Memorize New Information Well
Per a 2014 study, classical music can help older adults perform better on processing and memory tasks. These findings also suggest that particular kinds of music can help increase cognitive functions and memorization abilities. Just like a workout stimulates your body, the music does the same to your brain.
4. Improve Focus
As per the Stanford University School of Medicine’s 2007 study, music can help your brain to take in and interpret new information effortlessly- classical music, precisely. Our brain gets plentiful information from the environment and then processes it by breaking it into smaller segments. Music engages and trains your brain to make predictions about upcoming things and pay better attention to events.
Music That Works Best
Listening to music while working or studying does not always make you less efficient or productive. If you like to work with music, then you should not quit it. Just find the appropriate and helpful sounds and music for study and work. These few tips might prove beneficial for you:
- While studying, always keep the volume low because loud music can disrupt your thinking process.
- Avoid playing the music with lyrics while studying. The music in the language you understand does not prove helpful and can distract you.
- Always choose neutral music. The song should not be the top one from your playlist or the one you hate. It can affect your concentration.
- Go for classical music. But if you do not like this genre, consider ambient, space, or soft electronic.
You can try some of the other sounds if the music does not work for you, which include:
- White noise: as per the suggestion of a 2017 study, white noise could enhance memory and learning.
- Nature sounds, such as ocean waves, rustling leaves and birdsongs, rushing rivers and waterfalls, and rain.
- Binaural beats– these are an auditory illusion produced when you hear two distinct sounds, one in each ear, at the same time. Several people find these beat stimulations beneficial for several issues like insomnia, inattention, and anxiety.
Music can motivate you to handle crucial tasks and enhance your mood. However, it is not a study tool. Make sure to select the right type of music to maximize its benefits. If you are someone who struggles to focus, you can go for white noise or other audio options.