Should you listen to music while studying?

01 February 2023 | University life

Listening to music is beneficial for the brain. In fact, research has found that learning to play a musical instrument as a child improves cognitive performance in various ways.

Other studies have shown that listening to music improves mental wellbeing and increases physical health as listening to music helps to create thousands of neural connections which stimulate the intellect and emotions.

However, there are those who believe that listening to music while working or studying is a bad habit because it could distract you from your task, many others promote the enormous benefits with regard to improved concentration and performance.

Benefits of listening to music while studying

Studying with music in the background benefits the listener because it stimulates a part of the brain related to attention, satisfaction and concentration. Consequently, when you study and listen to music your concentration is greater and you will solve problems more quickly and easily.

Listening to music also helps combat stress before exams, helping you retain information and relaxing the body and mind.

In summary, it’s good to listen to music while studying because:

  • Listening to music with earphones isolates you from the outside world, helping you focus on your task.
  • It relaxes you if you’re spending long periods studying.
  • It helps reduce anxiety and stress.
  • It increases happiness and concentration.
  • It activates the frontal lobe of the brain, the area which, as well as improving concentration, improves mathematical and linguistic ability.

Drawbacks of listening to music while studying

When you are listening to music your heartbeat synchronises with the rhythm of the song and, therefore, if the song is fast it makes relaxing and studying more difficult. Also, if you’re listening to a song with lyrics it’s possible that you will concentrate more on the lyrics than studying, which is definitely a drawback.

Music causes changes in the brain and this can reduce productivity in and focus on your main task: studying. Moreover, when studying we use memory which is based on three pillars (reading, attention and retention) and this memorization process can be disrupted by listening to music.

In summary, the downsides of listening to music while studying are:

  • If the music is very loud or energetic it can distract you.
  • If you are memorizing notes for an exam you may need the song or music you were listening to when reading your notes in order to retain the information or recall it, which is a problem.
  • If the music has lyrics it will distract you which is why it’s better to listen to a type of music which won’t occupy your mind and is on in the background without slowing down your work.

If you have decided to study while listening to music because it’s a habit you haven’t been able to break, we’ve already told you its benefits and drawbacks and now we’ll give you some tips when it comes to choosing your music.

Tip 1: the music you listen to while studying should be calm and harmonious. In fact, studying while listening to classical music improves performance.

Tip 2: make playlists which last a maximum of 2 hours so that when the music stops you know it’s time for a study break.

Tip 3: listen to music at a moderate volume so what you are studying is first in your mind rather than the songs.

Tip 4: don’t listen to music on the radio because both the presenters and the adverts can distract you very easily.

Tip 5: nature sounds are also good to help you concentrate and, although they’re not music, they will help you relax and focus.

Tip 6: don’t waste time selecting songs because the priority is ensuring your studies are productive, not choosing the best song.

We hope this article has answered any questions you may have had about whether listening to music while studying is a good idea.

Experts recommend listening to music while studying only if it’s a habit you’ve had for a while and it doesn’t distract you easily.

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