I propose, as a student, that listening to music while studying is academically beneficial based on scientific fact. Have you ever listened to music while studying? Maybe you hummed a song? Well, it has been tested and shown that while listening to music students have a slower thought process, which inevitably has led to a slower, and a much higher understanding of each topic. It was also shown that when a student listens to music while studying they are working both sides of the brain and that causes for a deeper thought, memorization, and attention.
I chose this topic because my sister and I continuously disagree about whether or not I may listen to music while I study. I always tell her; there is information out there that proves that when you listen to music your attention span rises, your memorization becomes clearer and there is a deeper thought behind what you are reading or doing. Listening to music involves multitasking, which leads to slow mental processing, which leads to better memorization, and memorization is a key part of successful studying. If you are anything like my sister, you may think music is a distraction, but it is actually a “helper”. “Maguire University Professor William Forde Thompson and his team conducted an experiment in which they asked students to read a passage of text while listening to Mozart piano sonata. The music was altered to be soft or loud, fast or slow.”What was the result?
Students who read while listening to soft slow music performed better in the study. But what about in real life? If you are not listening to Mozart, are there still benefits to listening to music while you study? To help show that there is, I asked a close friend to explain how music is beneficial to her. Jamie Pontius, Junior at Murray High School, who enjoys music genres like Electronic and Folk Rock, had this to say in response to some questions. I asked if she listened to music while she studied. Pontius replied with a “Yes, I always listen to music whether I’m doing homework or studying.” I then asked, “How does it help you?” Pontius responded with “Music keeps me motivated and awake. It gives me something to keep pace with, something to follow.” Obviously, Jamie and I see eye to eye, although we listen to different genres of music. However, as they say, there are always two sides to every story.
For every published article or study proving that listening to music is beneficial, there is one proving that it is not. If you were to ask Los Angeles Times writer Alene Dawson about her thoughts on the subject, she might answer with a question “Does it seem too good to be true?” (Dawson, 2012) Dawson asks this in an article she wrote about the advertised benefits, in contrast to the actual benefits, of skin care products. While this paper is not about cosmetics, Dawson illustrates the importance of looking at all of the information available while researching a specific topic. For example, in an experiment done by researchers at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff in the United Kingdom, 25 people between the ages of 18-30 would try to memorize and recall a list of letters in order after listening to different sounds. During this study, they found that the participants performed worse while listening to music.
They say that music is a cognitive disruptor resulting in confusion and causing the participants to “get thrown off by the changing in words”. (CNN, 2010) While this study may appear to support my sister’s opinion on the matter, it is important to point out that the participant’s preference in music was not considered. I might have even failed this experiment if I had to listen to my least favorite genre of music, which is Country, as opposed to my favorite genre of music, Rock.
So let us talk about Rock since it is specific to my argument. In 2006 Scottish researchers reported that in addition to classical music, music by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and Red Hot Chili Peppers also helped students concentrate and boost memory. In the study published, two groups of people were asked to perform a memory test while listening to rock music and classical music. “While the classical music improved the concentration and memory of both groups, rock music also had a significant effect on the cognitive performance of the rock fan. Brain scans revealed that they required far less brainpower to complete the test successfully.” (Times, 2006) It is important to note that the benefits of listening to Rock music in the above example were specific to those participants that consider themselves Rock fans. This strongly supports the argument that since I am listening to the kind of music I like, it is not serving as a distraction to my studies.
Even if my studies were being compromised, there is plenty of evidence to support it may be the result of issues not related to act of listening to music while studying.
“Music can help with academic success. Poor grades do not automatically reflect poor intelligence; they are often an outcome of lack of interest and lack of motivation in studying.” (How does music affect the brain?, 2012) As we look at some of the highschoolers today their grades are slipping lower and lower, but as this book illustrates grades do not reflect poor intelligence, just a lack in interest in the subject. This also illustrates that music helps with your memorization. In addition, music with stronger beats causes brain waves to resonate in such a way that is coordinated with the music. This brings about higher levels of alertness and concentration. Music in some ways can be and is very creative. This is also something music helps with. Bringing imagination and creativity into the equation will show that music promotes academic success.
“Scientists conducted a series of studies in the 1990s examining the influence of music on memory recall. The research supported the positive effects of background music when studying. The research also suggested that music, especially classical music, heightened arousal and mood, as it reduced blood pressure, heartbeat and stress.” (Network, 2011) As this quote from the University of Phoenix shows, music has a positive effect on your mood and stress. When you are studying, you typically are stressed, and when you are stressed, you become unmotivated on doing your work, unmotivated for studying when the time comes and it needs to happen.
“The scientists drew a link between memory recall to musical tempo. A tempo of 60 beats per minute activates the right hemisphere of the brain, while the material being studied activates the left hemisphere of the brain. With both hemispheres activated, the brain can process information more efficiently.” (Network, 2011) As another portion of study from the University of Phoenix, the professors concluded that the brain focuses on patterns. Some genres have a set and specific structure that repeats, and that some music genres that have too many repeated sections become distracting which in turn causes the urge to not study or do any sort of work.
As I have thought more and more about this, I have come up with the some questions that need to be answered. How does music affect you? How does it affect your emotions and your productivity? Does Music help your body in anyway? Music affects you in a multitude of ways and some of them include; when listening to music it reduces your blood pressure that helps calm you down, it is also a stress aid. Music also helps you concentration and attention when you are studying, it gives you a beat to follow, something to give you a pace to keep when studying. Something I found interesting when I was researching is that music is a fatigue fighter and that it helps boost you immune system, and that when you listen to music, depending on the type of music you music you listen, it can change your mood and your physical behavior.
CNN. (2010, July 27). Music may harm your studying. Retrieved January 4, 2013, from http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2010/07/27/music-may-harm-your-studying-study-says/ Dawson. (2012). Under Scrutiny. 1.
How does music affect the brain? (2012). Chicago.
Jane. (2012, June 7). Should you listen to music while you study? Retrieved January 4, 2013, from http://learningfundamentals.com.au/blog/should-you-listen-to-music-when-you-study/ Network, U. W. (2011, August 9). Should you listen to music while studying? Retrieved January 5, 2013, from University of Phoenx: http://www.phoenix.edu/forward/student-life/2011/08/should-you-listen-to-music-while-studying.html Times, S. (2006, September 3). Rock Music Boosts Your Brain Power. Retrieved Januray 5, 2013, from Pioneer Library: http://web.ebscohost.com/src/detail?sid=3744dd94-da4f-4367-927a-d32aded6f9ca%