Does music help you study? (Advantages/Disadvantages)

You may have heard some people say that listening to music helps you study more effectively, but is this true? Does music really enhance memory power? Is there a better chance of improving your exam marks if you listen to music while you study? Let’s briefly take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of combining music with study!


How music can help studying:

Studies have shown that listening to the right kind of music may help ease your mind & help you concentrate. One study that was done shows that listening to music from the classical composer Mozart can help with your short-term concentration and can improve your performance on certain tasks – this is called the “Mozart effect.” Another study showed that music engages certain areas of the brain, asserting it to pay attention and preventing you from falling asleep when studying! In this way we can see that music can be beneficial for when you’re studying!
The main way in which music helps is to keep your mind awake, focused and entertained. So, according to these studies, if you listen to some classical music, you MAY be able to concentrate a little better on that essay due tomorrow!

How music can hinder studying:
A study was carried out at the University of Wales  where 25 people aged 18 – 30 were instructed to memorize a list of letters under various listening conditions – quiet music they liked, music they didn’t like, a voice repeating the number three, and a voice reciting random numbers.

The study found that the participants memorised the least when they listened to the quiet music and the music they didn’t like. However, they were able to memorise the most while listening to the repeated “three”.
From this study, the researchers concluded that music in these scenarios were NOT effective seeing as the changing words and notes of the music you’re listening to may distract you from effective memorising.

Personally I’ve found that music has the ability to be very distracting. Sometimes my mind wanders and I find myself singing or humming along… or busting a move or two! Or sometimes, the music is so relaxing that I fall asleep! But this isn’t the case for everyone.

What should you do?

The question is, will music help YOU study? There is no right or wrong answer, it all depends on YOU and your personal study habits. Here’s a little test you can do to find out whether music will help or hinder your studies:

  1. Pick something to study or memorise – perhaps some Maths formulas or a quote for an English essay.
  2. Make a short playlist or Youtube a variety of songs including songs with lyrics and songs without lyrics. You could even try adding a few Mozart pieces into your playlist to see if the “Mozart effect” will work on you!
  3. Test! – Spend some time listening to a bit of each song at a low to moderate volume while attempting to memorise your chosen study material.
  4. Decide – Which songs worked for and which songs didn’t? Did you have to fight the urge to sing along? Was the music distracting? Test this out by recalling what you attempted to memorise without peeking at your notes.

Ultimately, your study habits are your responsibility. Be wise and surround yourself with things that will stimulate and motivate your mind to learn & understand concepts, practice them and commit them to memory. It’s up to you to decide whether music will help or hinder your mind from doing those three things.

So give it a go, see what works for you! And have a little fun in the process, because remember, studying should be a balance between fun and structured learning!

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