is it bad to listen to music while doing your homework

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Listening to Music While Doing Homework and Studying: Is It A Good Idea?

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Music Whilst studying

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Nowadays, most students go to the library with their headphones and to the study halls. Although, the question is, does listening to music when studying help? Yes, it may help despite the distractions that come your way. Music can put you in a better mood, and in a better position to study.

You can choose to listen to soothing music because it has several advantages, like helping you beat anxiety and beating your stress while doing your assignments. The following reasons show that listening to music when doing your homework is a good idea.

Reduces anxiety  

When you’re studying, anxiety can be a crippling blockade, and some ways can help you beat the heat, especially when you’re writing that extended essay you were given from school as your homework. For example, you were issued a complimentary massage during each study session in your college period. As a result, your anxiety and tension levels may lower when doing your homework. So, the music’s effect on your anxiety levels during your homework time can be similar to the impact you have when getting a massage.

Your favorite music tune can reduce your anxiety as you do your assignment because it helps you feel relaxed. Also, you can opt to listen to rap music when studying or doing your homework because of the uplifting effect it may give you that may help you manage, accept, and know how to deal with your mental health issues. Since there is more than one genre of rap, you can look for the one that gives your brain the extra support it may want.

Increases creativity 

You may be in a situation where you are working on some assignment stressing you, and you don’t want to die of boredom . In that case, you can consider putting on your school headphones with microphone , then set the volume that you think is best for you, go through your playlist and choose your favorite songs, then enjoy yourself with the most soothing music.

It would help if you regulated your music to avoid distraction and concentrate on your work. The background music you put can help stimulate your abstract thinking and tune your brain towards a creative work mode. That’s why most creative people get attracted to the background noise music played in the cafes or the dams.

Energy motivation

You may be needing a quick pick me up, especially before a marathon writing session, and in this case, one or two stimulating songs can help in boosting your drive in tackling the awaiting drudgery. The music gets to engage the autonomic nervous system of your body, which shows that music can help control your psychological emotions at a certain level. Also, when the music you’re listening to is correct, it can help in serving as a fantastic stimulant that will help your pulse and accelerate breathing. It will help you do your homework well while motivated.

It can help ease your stress

It’s the middle of the semester, and your stress has run high because of the many undone assignments whose deadlines are catching up with you soon. It can be the perfect time to start doing your homework while listening to music. Music can help you reduce stress, especially when it’s not so loud. Even if you may be having some health problems, music can be your stress remover. When you listen to soothing music, it can decrease your heartbeat while reducing your anxiety levels.

Music can also help process your emotions while helping you feel relaxed because of the ups and downs when studying. In addition, you can opt to turn on the theme you can relate to because it will help you deal with your homework stress. So, if your college life has made you feel down or distracted you, then the best idea you should consider is putting some music on. Music will help you concentrate on your assignments and studies and keep your stress at bay while putting you in a learning mood.

Increases your focus 

Music can increase your focus because it can help your brain absorb and easily interpret new information. In this case, when studying, your brain can be processing much information that it receives from the world as it starts separating it into smaller segments. Music can help engage your brain and begin training it to start paying some attention to what you’re learning while making predictions on what may happen. So, it can help you study, especially when you struggle making sense of the new learning materials. Listening to music will make the process better and easier.

Also, it helps in learning where you can link the ability to make better predictions about the reasoning skills events. Of course, improved reasoning may not help pull some answers during exam time. But it’s possible to notice a difference in your reasoning ability based on your information.

Music helps deal with your noisy roommates

You may coexist in space with people who don’t keep quiet. In this case, your roommate may be fond of talking out loud and maybe doesn’t care about the presence of others and the reasons to speak in a composed way. Through this, it’s easy for you to get distracted if your roommate makes endless phone calls and has a lot of conversations. This nightmare can get solved with good noise-canceling headphones and good music. As you do your homework, you can consider music as the only possible way out, especially when you’re not feeling like going to the library.

Helps you memorize new information

When you decide to listen to classical music, it can help you, especially when you want to process some tasks in memory. There is a type of music that may help in boosting your memorization abilities and different cognitive functions. Music will help stimulate your brain, similar to exercising, which promotes your body.

In sum, music can be considered a big part of your daily life because you may need to listen to it, especially when you want to get many things done. In addition, radio or movie music may significantly impact how you understand what you’re learning.

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Does Listening to Music While Doing Homework Affect Your Grade in School?

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Music is a powerful art form that can bring up emotions, inspire motivation and alter your mood. Students frequently listen to music while studying to make the process less painful and, in some cases, because they believe music will help them learn. The effects of listening to music while studying are mixed, however, and depend upon the type of music you listen to as well as the degree to which it distracts you.

Music With Lyrics

Music with lyrics activates the language-processing centers of the brain, and the University of Phoenix advises that this can be distracting. Particularly if you're reading or studying subjects within the humanities, the act of processing musical lyrics as you try to process the words you're studying can make studying more challenging. Students who listen to music with lyrics may have more difficulty concentrating and may struggle more to recall the information they've learned.

Instrumental Music

Robin Harwood, et al. point to the "Mozart Effect" in their textbook "Child Psychology." The "Mozart Effect" is the belief that listening to classical music can improve intelligence; it is based upon a single study that was subsequently refuted. Instrumental and classical music won't make you smarter, according to Harwood, et al. But this music can have a relaxing, soothing effect and is less distracting than music with lyrics.

Staying Focused

A 2005 study published in "Psychology of Music" found that workers who listened to music while working had higher productivity than those who didn't. The study's authors speculate that this could be because music boosts mood, improving motivation. Particularly among students who are struggling to remain motivated to complete their work, music might provide a respite from the stress and exhaustion of studying and inspire them to keep at it.

Context-Dependent Learning

People recall information more effectively when they're doing so in the same environment in which they initially learned it, according to the textbook "Educational Psychology." Students who listen to music while studying will be better at recalling the information they've learned if they also listen to music during tests -- an opportunity most students don't have. This might mean that listening to music can make recalling information more challenging, particularly for students who transition from listening to loud music to taking a test in a silent classroom.

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  • Child Psychology; Robin Harwood et al.; 2008
  • Educational Psychology; Anita Woolfolk; 2006

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

The Effects of Music on a Student's Schoolwork

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  • 1 The Effects of Music on a Student's Schoolwork
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A female student studying and listening to headphones

Is it OK to listen to music while studying?

October 17, 2019

UOW researcher answers this tricky question as NSW students start written exams for the HSC.

It’s a good question! In a nutshell, music puts us in a better mood, which makes us better at studying – but it also distracts us, which makes us worse at studying.

So if you want to study effectively with music, you want to reduce how distracting music can be, and increase the level to which the music keeps you in a good mood.

Read more: Curious Kids: Why do adults think video games are bad?

Music can put us in a better mood

You may have heard of the Mozart effect – the idea that listening to Mozart makes you “smarter”. This is based on research that found listening to complex classical music like Mozart improved test scores, which the researcher argued was based on the music’s ability to stimulate parts of our minds that play a role in mathematical ability.

However, further research conclusively debunked the Mozart effect theory: it wasn’t really anything to do with maths, it was really just that music puts us in a better mood.

Research conducted in the 1990s found a “Blur Effect” – where kids who listened to the BritPop band Blur seemed to do better on tests. In fact, researchers found that the Blur effect was bigger than the Mozart effect, simply because kids enjoyed pop music like Blur more than classical music.

Being in a better mood likely means that we try that little bit harder and are willing to stick with challenging tasks.

is it bad to listen to music while doing your homework

Music can distract us

On the other hand, music can be a distraction – under certain circumstances.

When you study, you’re using your “working memory” – that means you are holding and manipulating several bits of information in your head at once.

The research is fairly clear that when there’s music in the background, and especially music with vocals, our working memory gets worse .

Likely as a result, reading comprehension decreases when people listen to music with lyrics . Music also appears to be more distracting for people who are introverts than for people who are extroverts, perhaps because introverts are more easily overstimulated.

Some clever work by an Australia-based researcher called Bill Thompson and his colleagues aimed to figure out the relative effect of these two competing factors - mood and distraction.

They had participants do a fairly demanding comprehension task, and listen to classical music that was either slow or fast, and which was either soft or loud.

They found the only time there was any real decrease in performance was when people were listening to music that was both fast and loud (that is, at about the speed of Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, at about the volume of a vacuum cleaner).

But while that caused a decrease in performance, it wasn’t actually that big a decrease. And other similar research also failed to find large differences.

is it bad to listen to music while doing your homework

So… can I listen to music while studying or not?

To sum up: research suggests it’s probably fine to listen to music while you’re studying - with some caveats.

It’s better if:

  • it puts you in a good mood
  • it’s not too fast or too loud
  • it’s less wordy (and hip-hop, where the words are rapped rather than sung, is likely to be even more distracting)
  • you’re not too introverted.

Happy listening and good luck in your exams!

Read more: Curious Kids: Why do old people hate new music?

Timothy Byron , Lecturer in Psychology, University of Wollongong

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .

UOW academics exercise academic freedom by providing expert commentary, opinion and analysis on a range of ongoing social issues and current affairs. This expert commentary reflects the views of those individual academics and does not necessarily reflect the views or policy positions of the University of Wollongong.

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Is Listening to Music while doing Homework OK: 21 best Songs

Music and homework

Listening to music doing homework

Listening to music while doing your homework has always caused divisions in its effectiveness. Some argue that it is advantageous, while others argue that it does not help.

As long as the music doesn’t affect your concentration, then there is no reason why you should not play several songs as you do your homework.

This will help you if you want to handle assignments well. However, if you have no time for that, you hire an assignment writer to do the job for you.

is it bad to listen to music while doing your homework

Need Help with your Homework or Essays?

Is it ok to listen to music while doing homework.

The answer to this question is twofold. Music can help put us in a better mood, which is good for studying. Music can also distract us, which is not good when studying.

It is OK to listen to music while doing homework if it does not distract you from your studies. In fact, if you get used to listening to your favorite songs, you can increase the amount of time you spend doing assignments. However, listening to music can be a distraction from your studies if you are not used to it or if it is not your favorite playlist.

For music to be effective when studying, the rate at which it disturbs you should be reduced, and the rate at which it makes you feel good should be increased. 

Liting to music doing homework

Research has shown that listening to music while doing tests can boost your scores.

This is due to the ability of music to stimulate parts of the mind that play a role in mathematical ability.

This theory about maths was debunked, and it was concluded that the main reason music can make you do well in tests is its ability to put you in a better mood.

Kids enjoyed more pop music than classical music.

Children who listened to pop did better in tests, as per the research. When music makes us feel good, we try harder, and our minds are willing to take on challenging tasks. 

Music can distract us when studying. When you are studying, your mind manipulates several types of information at once and music can distract that.

The working memory gets worse when listening to music with vocals. Vocals and music lyrics can decrease reading comprehension. Introverts are easily overstimulated and listening to music while studying can distract them more than extroverts.

Bill Thompson, a researcher based in Australia, found that the performance of people when studying can be decreased by listening to music that is both loud and fast.

Those who listened to slow and soft music were less distracted. The difference was not too big. The decrease in performance was minimal.

Therefore, it is fair to conclude that listening to music while you are studying is fine if it puts you in a good mood and it is not too fast or loud.

If you are not an introvert, listening to music while studying is less distracting. Less wordy music is fine to listen to while studying. 

Why Do Students Listen to Music While Studying?

If you turn on music every time you study, it can become a stereotype that can help trigger your mental activity.

Students listen to music while studying to trigger their mental activity as they study. Some report that they enjoy music playing in the background as part of the studying environment. Students also listen to music as a form of entertainment while doing homework, a task they find boring.

Listening to music studying

Music can prepare and tune your mind to do assignments.

The following are reasons why students listen to music while doing their assignments:

1. It Helps Students Relax before Learning

Music can help you cope with stress.

In research conducted by the US Department of Homeland Security, it was concluded that soothing music consisted of classical pieces, and it helped reduce the level of cortisol in the blood.

The music had an analgesic and sedative effect, too. Turning on the appropriate music can help you relax after a long day of classes and concentrate on your assignments. 

2. Improves Concentration

When it is hard for students to concentrate and do their homework, music helps them to find motivation. Music helps create conditions that are right and comfortable for brain activity.

Mozart music, for example, according to scientists, helps improve alertness and concentration. Students can gather information and thoughts as well as process a rich flow of information. Using MRI, scientists concluded that music affects the most active parts of the brain.

3. It Improves Memory

Soft music plays a significant role in activating neural connections that impact cognitive performance as well as improving memory. Soft music increases intellectual indicators.

It enables students to remember new information better and be less biased in solving very unfamiliar problems. Students can rely on soft music to learn faster and improve memory.

4. Helps Increase Creativity

The average noise level is an example of a creative catalyst. If boredom is killing you as you are working on several assignments, you can put on your headphones to your desired volume and set your favorite playlist.

This gives students some pleasure as they work on their assignments. Always note that loud volumes may end up ruining your concentration.

Background noises complicate the process of processing information and stimulate abstract thinking, hence tuning the brain into a creative work mode. 

5. Helps Deal with Noisy Roommates

Most students live together in school hostels. Roommates at many times interfere with each other’s work. A roommate can be a very talkative person and merely cares about the presence of others.

Sometimes, they don’t see the need to keep silent. Music and noise-cancelling headphones can easily help you deal with this problem. Music can be the only way you have to concentrate on your work if the library is closed. 

5. Music Helps Feel Blue Without Any Consequences

Music boosts the psychology of students. Students often think about their problems when they are studying. According to psychologist Stean Kelsch, positively listening to sad music affects emphatic qualities.

A student can then easily cope with problems. Students listen to performers, associate with them, and empathize with them. The brain then can control emotions and allow the student to let out negative emotions.

The sadness that comes with listening to sad music does not cause consequences that are the same as real sadness caused by difficult situations.

6. Music Motivates Students to Study

Students face the challenge of knuckling down to studies. Sticking to studies once you have started is also a problem among many students.

Students’ favorite tunes help them deal with this by creating a playlist of songs that get them in the zone. If you don’t feel like doing your homework , you can use music as a motivator.

why music when studying

They get excited about the assignment they are about to do and focus on the outcomes.

Listening to music helps release dopamine in the brain, which is a feel-good chemical, according to scientists.

Tracing of neural mechanisms using tomography was used by scientists in the study.

It showed that listening to music helps increase blood flow and activate the brain parts that are responsible for emotions, motivation, and excitement. 

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List of 21 Good Songs to Listen to While Doing Homework

The challenge when it comes to selecting music to listen to when doing your homework comes with the type of songs. Do not choose music that distracts your need to stay focused.

Everyone can have a different list of songs depending on their favorite playlists. The music preference can be piano, acoustic guitar, classical music, Jazz, reggae, or any other genre.

The following is an example of a playlist that you can listen to when doing your homework:

  • Jelly 292 –Jimi Hendrix
  • Don’t play with my heart – India Shawn
  • Death bed coffee for your head – Powu t Beabadoobee
  • Friends Don’t Look at Friends That Way – Tate McRae 
  • Say Something – A Great Big World, Christina Aguilera
  • The Birth and Death of the Day –Explosions in the Sky
  • What If I Told You I Love You – Alie Gate
  • I hate you, I love you – Gnash t Olivia O’Brien
  • Ad Astra Per Aspera –Acceptance
  • Out of My Mind- John Mayer
  • Happier – Olievier Rodrigo
  • Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX) –Pink Floyd
  • Guilty Cubicles –Broken Social Scene
  • Red-Eye –The Album Leaf
  • You Don’t Even Know – The Internet ft. Tay Walker
  • Open Eye Signal – Jon Hopkins
  • Symphony No. 40 in G minor, First Movement – Mozart
  • Canon. –Zox
  • Svefn-G-Englar –Sigur Rós
  •  Stone Cold Heart – Ana Whiterose x RUDENKO
  • Let Me Down Slowly – Alec Benjamin.

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Josh Jasen or JJ as we fondly call him, is a senior academic editor at Grade Bees in charge of the writing department. When not managing complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In his spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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Does Listening to Music Really Help You Study?

Experts from the department of psychology explain whether or not music is a helpful study habit to use for midterms, finals, and other exams.

graohic of listening to music

By Mia Mercer ‘23

Picture of girl studying with headphones

Students have adopted several studying techniques to prepare for exams. Listening to music is one of them. However, listening to music may be more distracting than helpful for effective studying.

There’s no season quite like an exam season on a university campus. Students turn to varying vices to help improve their chance of getting a good grade. While some chug caffeine, others turn up the music as they hit the books.

Although listening to music can make studying more enjoyable, psychologists from the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences have found that this popular study habit is more distracting than beneficial. 

“ Multitasking is a fallacy; human beings are not capable of truly multitasking because attention is a limited resource, and you can only focus on so much without a cost,” cognitive psychologist Brian Anderson said. “So when you’re doing two things at the same time, like studying and listening to music, and one of the things requires cognitive effort, there will be a cost to how much information you can retain doing both activities.” 

In basic terms of memory, Anderson explained that we do a better job of recalling information in the same conditions in which we learn the material. So when studying for an exam, it’s best to mimic the exam conditions. 

“If you have music going on in the background when you study, it’s going to be easier to recall that information if you also have music on in the background when you take the exam,” Anderson said. “However wearing headphones will almost certainly be a violation during most exams, so listening to music when you’re studying will make it harder to replicate that context when you’re taking an exam.” 

Even though experts suggest listening to music can hinder your ability to retain information while studying, some students choose to continue the practice. Steven Smith, cognitive neuroscientist for the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences , provided some suggestions for students who wish to continue this study habit. 

 “In general, words are distracting,” Smith shared. “So if you want to listen to music while you study, try to listen to something that does not have words, or if it does have words, hopefully, it’ll be in a language that you don’t understand at all, otherwise that’s going to distract from the stuff you’re trying to study.”

Smith also suggested listening to familiar background music, because it’s less distracting than something new or exciting. Additionally, Smith provided some principles that generally result in better exam results. 

“Make sure your studying is meaningful because comprehension gets you so much further than raw repetition,” Smith shared. “Also, you must test yourself, because it’s the only way you can learn the material; this is called the testing-effect. And finally, try to apply the spacing-effect, where you spread out your study sessions rather than cramming your studying all together, allowing for better memory of the material.”

Regardless of how students decide to study for exams, it’s important to remember that we all learn differently.

“There are individual differences between everyone,” Smith said. “Some people need a study place that is boring, predictable, and exactly the same so that they can concentrate, and others find it more beneficial to go to different places to study. It’s true that there are different personalities, so try and find what study habit works best for you.” 

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Music and Studying: It’s Complicated

is it bad to listen to music while doing your homework

Music can motivate you, improve your mood, and help you relax. It can even help you focus so you can study or work. But different types of music can have different effects.

Many people find music helps them concentrate while studying and working. Others find it hard to focus with any background noise at all.

Music offers a lot of benefits , including:

  • improved mood
  • increased motivation
  • boost concentration
  • improved memory and brain stimulation
  • better management of pain and fatigue

But not everyone agrees that music improves a study session. So what’s the deal — does it help or not?

Music doesn’t affect everyone in the same way, so the answer is not just a straightforward “yes” or “no.”

Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of studying with music and get some tips for making the most out of your study playlist.

How it can help

It would be fantastic if you could put on a playlist or song that could help you knock out a problem set or memorize all those dates for your history final, wouldn’t it?

Unfortunately, music isn’t quite that powerful. It mostly helps in indirect ways, but those benefits can still make a big difference.

It reduces stress and improves your mood

Music doesn’t just motivate you. It can also help reduce stress and promote a more positive mindset.

In a 2013 study , 60 female volunteers carried out a psychological stress test while listening to relaxing music, sounds of rippling water, or no particular sound. Results suggested that listening to relaxing music makes a physical difference to the way people respond psychologically and physically — in terms of hormone response — under stress. However, the picture is complex, and more studies are needed.

In a 2021 study , patients in ICU said they felt less pain and anxiety after listening to music for 30 minutes than before.

Research suggests that a good mood generally improves your learning outcomes. You’ll likely have more success with studying and learning new material when you’re feeling good.

Studying can be stressful , especially when you don’t entirely understand the subject material. If you feel overwhelmed or upset, putting on some music can help you relax and work more effectively.

It can motivate you

If you’ve ever grappled with a long, exhausting night of homework, your resolve to keep studying may have started to flag long before you finished.

Perhaps you promised yourself a reward in order to get through the study session, such as the latest episode of a show you like or your favorite takeout meal.

Research from 2019 suggests music can activate the same reward centers in your brain as other things you enjoy. Rewarding yourself with your favorite music can provide the motivation you need to learn new information.

If you prefer music that doesn’t work well for studying (more on that below), listening to your favorite songs during study breaks could motivate you to study harder.

It can increase focus

According to a 2007 study , music — classical music, specifically — can help your brain absorb and interpret new information more easily.

Your brain processes the abundance of information it receives from the world around you by separating it into smaller segments.

The researchers found evidence to suggest that music can engage your brain in such a way that it trains it to pay better attention to events and make predictions about what might happen.

How does this help you study? Well, if you struggle to make sense of new material, listening to music could make this process easier.

You can also link the ability to make better predictions about events to reasoning skills.

Improved reasoning abilities won’t help you pull answers out of thin air come exam time. But you could notice a difference in your ability to reason your way to these answers based on the information you do have.

Other research also supports music as a possible method of improving focus .

In a 2011 study of 41 boys diagnosed with ADHD , background music distracted some of the boys, but it appeared to lead to better performance in the classroom for others.

It could help you memorize new information

According to a 2014 study , listening to classical music seemed to help older adults perform better on memory and processing tasks.

These findings suggest certain types of music can help boost memorization abilities and other cognitive functions.

Music helps stimulate your brain, similar to the way exercise helps stimulate your body.

The more you exercise your muscles, the stronger they become, right? Giving your brain a cognitive workout could help strengthen it in a similar fashion.

How it can hurt

Not everyone finds music helpful for tasks that require concentration.

It can distract you

An important part of music’s impact lies in its power to distract.

When you feel sad or stressed, distracting yourself with your favorite tunes can help lift your spirits.

But distraction probably isn’t what you’re looking for when you need to hit the books.

If you’re trying to argue your position in a term paper or solve a difficult calculus equation, music that’s too loud or fast might just interrupt your thoughts and hinder your process.

It can have a negative impact on working memory

Working memory refers to the information you use for problem-solving, learning, and other cognitive tasks.

You use working memory when trying to remember:

  • items on a list
  • steps for solving a math problem
  • a sequence of events

Most people can work with a few pieces of information at a time. A high working memory capacity means you can handle more material.

Research suggests, however, that listening to music can reduce working memory capacity.

If you already have a hard time manipulating multiple pieces of information, listening to music could make this process even more challenging.

It can lower reading comprehension

Certain types of music — including music with lyrics and instrumental music that is fast and loud — can make it harder to understand and absorb reading material.

Whether you’re looking at an evening of Victorian literature or some one-on-one time with your biology textbook, soft classical music with a slow tempo may be a better choice.

What kind of music works best?

Listening to music while you study or work doesn’t always make you less productive or efficient.

If you prefer to study with music, there’s no need to give it up. Keeping these tips in mind can help you find the most helpful music for work and study:

  • Avoid music with lyrics. Any music that has lyrics in a language you understand will probably prove more distracting than helpful.
  • Choose slow, instrumental music. Existing research generally focuses on classical music, but if you don’t enjoy this genre, you could also consider soft electronic, space, or ambient — the kind you might hear at a spa or while getting a massage.
  • Avoid surprising or experimental music. Music that changes abruptly or lacks a fixed rhythm can leave you guessing about what to expect. This can distract your brain and keep you from focusing on your work.
  • Keep the volume low. Study music should stay at a background volume. If it’s too loud, it could disrupt your thinking process.
  • Stick to songs you don’t have strong feelings about. Listening to music you either love or hate can affect your ability to concentrate.
  • Stream commercial-free music, if possible. Picture this: You’re listening to your instrumental Pandora station when a toilet paper commercial cuts in, annoying you and derailing your train of thought. Enough said.

Frequently asked questions

Is music good while studying.

Some research suggests that music can help reduce stress during an academic task and that it may help with memory and processing during tasks that require thinking. However, this may depend on the type of music and the individual.

What type of music is good to study with?

The best type will depend on the individual. There is evidence that classical symphonies or relaxing music are a good choice for managing stress, but also that upbeat music might boost a person’s thinking processes. Instrumental music may be more suitable than songs with lyrics, as the lyrics can be distracting.

When is it bad to listen to music while studying?

Each person can decide if it suits them to listen to music while studying or not and which type of music is best. Types of music that may not be helpful include songs, fast and loud music, and music that provokes strong feelings in the listener.

The bottom line

Music can improve your mood and help you feel more motivated to tackle important tasks, but it doesn’t always work as a study tool.

Even people who love music might find it less than helpful when trying to concentrate.

Choosing music carefully can help you maximize its benefits, but if you still struggle to focus, it may help to consider white noise or other audio options instead.

Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.

Last medically reviewed on June 22, 2022

How we reviewed this article:

  • Angwin AJ, et al (2017). White noise enhances new-word learning in healthy adults.
  • Baker M. (2007). Music moves brain to pay attention, Stanford study finds. [Press release].
  • Bottiroli S, et al. (2014). The cognitive effects of listening to background music on older adults: Processing speed improves with upbeat music, while memory seems to benefit from both upbeat and downbeat music.
  • Bowles L, et al. (2019). The effect of music on mood, motivation, and exercise among patients in a cardiac rehabilitation program: A pilot study.
  • Cowan N. (2013). Working memory underpins cognitive development, learning, and education.
  • Forde Thompson W, et al. (2011). Fast and loud background music disrupts reading comprehension.
  • Gold BP, et al. (2019). Musical reward prediction errors engage the nucleus accumbens and motivate learning.
  • Huang R-H, et al. (2011). Effects of background music on concentration of workers.
  • Kennel S, et al. (2010). Pilot feasibility study of binaural auditory beats for reducing symptoms of inattention in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
  • Lehmann JAM, et al. (2017). The influence of background music on learning in the light of different theoretical perspectives and the role of working memory capacity.
  • Linnemann A, et al. (2015). Music listening as a means of stress reduction in daily life.
  • Lonsdale AJ, et al. (2011). Why do we listen to music? A uses and gratifications analysis [Abstract].
  • Meda K. (2019). Understanding activity in the brain to help with sleep, stress and focus.
  • Miller CR, et al. (2021). Music to reduce stress in hospitalized patients [Abstract].
  • Pelham WE Jr., et al. (2011). Music and video as distractors for boys with ADHD in the classroom: Comparison with controls, individual differences, and medication effects.
  • Sridharan D, et al. (2007). Neural dynamics of event segmentation in music: Converging evidence for dissociable ventral and dorsal networks.
  • Thoma MV, et al. (2013). The effect of music on the human stress response.
  • Thompson WF, et al. (2011). Fast and loud background music disrupts reading comprehension [Abstract].

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

May 30, 2023

Yvette Brazier

Copy Edited By

Copy Editors

Jun 22, 2022

Medically Reviewed By

Karin Gepp, PsyD


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SiOWfa15: Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy

The course website and blog for the fall 2015 instance of penn state's sc200 course.

SiOWfa15: Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy

Listening to Music While Doing Homework/Studying Lead To Better Results?

While sitting down to study in the Findlay Commons I look around and notice all the different study habits between students. A certain study habit is more effective for someone in comparison to others because all brains work differently when trying to integrate memorization or muscle memory.  A study shows the most effective study habits include practicing by yourself, memory games, and going to your own quiet place. Those ways are typically the way I study. But, when I walk around the commons I notice more people than not wearing headphones and studying. I never really understood the reasoning of listening to music while studying because it is another voice in your head that takes away the sole purpose of memorization. Since I never understood the meaning for this interesting study habit, I researched whether music leads to better results for those that listen to it.


I tried to listen to music while studying and could not focus on the task at hand. But, a study shows that music is beneficial when studying. A study done by Elana Goodwin states, “ Studies have shown that listening to music before studying or performing a task can be beneficial as it improves attention, memory, and even your ability to do mental math as well as helping lessen depression and anxiety.” The researchers typically compare this to the Mozarts Effect. For those who do not know, the Mozarts Effect is a study that shows while listening to Mozart’s music one receives a short-term improvement in their capabilities.


But, I found a flaw in there correlation with Mozarts Effect. I walked up to 10 different kids in the Findlay commons that were studying for a quiz or midterm and listening to music. I proceeded to ask them what genre of music they were listening to and whom. The responses varied from rap, to pop, to country, but none of them had Mozarts’ pieces playing in their earbuds. The survey take was very small, but typically high school/college students who have proven to benefit from listening to music while studying are listening to different genres.

Another study done also proves that listening to music can effect studying. But, the studying must be an organizational related study. Perham, the researcher involved in the study claims, “Listening to music may diminish your cognitive abilities in these situations because when you’re trying to memorize things in order, you can get thrown off and confused by the various words and notes in the song playing in the background.” The organization of one’s study can be altered because of the words or beat that is constantly in one’s head. The music genre does not matter, the sound effects the performance in itself.

The studies shown prove that music can be both beneficial and digressive. Differentiating between the type of study someone is engaged in plays a key factor. Also, the person’s tolerance level to noise and whether they use it progressively can determine whether they listen to music while studying. Studying should not be based off other peoples’ opinions of how study. There is no better way to study but your own because different study habits make one more comfortable in comparison to others. This study shows that I should not be so quick to judge other students and how they study because maybe they find it beneficial. Some people succeed when put in specific scenarios, and one scenario I will never find useful is music during study hours, but people are different and results vary.






8 thoughts on “ Listening to Music While Doing Homework/Studying Lead To Better Results? ”

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While studying, some people prefer to listen to music. Others need total silence, it just depends on who you are and what helps you study. The reason why some people need to listen to music is to either crete a background noise, or to relax them and lower stress levels. It has been proven that stress levels are decreased by music. The student could possibly be stressed out over what he or she is studying for, and the music would bring that stress level back down. Additionally, music can relax people to the point where their attention is 100% focused on what they are studying. The music just creates this calm throughout their body and enables them to concentrate extremely hard on what they are doing. Aside from making them feel better, the music will block out excess noise in the room from other students whispering to each other or the rustling of papers. These are all the positive effects music should have on studying. If the music is causing a negative effect on studying I would highly suggest changing study habits, but that’s a given. Over all, each person is different and if their “thing” while studying is music than so be it, let them listen to music. There is no way it can harm the others around them, who are probably too focused with their own work to notice them anyway.

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Earlier in the blog period, I created a similar blog asking the same question. This is a topic that generally interests me as I alway do my homework with music playing in the background. However, I always want to make sure that I am working in an efficient manner. So if that means changing my listening preferences and saving an hour of time I would normally spend changing the song I’m interested. The one aspect that your blog as well as mine both concluded was that music while studying strictly is based upon the individual. There are a number of confounding variables that come into play that can influence this data. For example, genre, tone, volume, rate, and whether or not the person is accustomed to working with music can all make a difference in their performance. I have attached a link to the blog post I made regarding the same subject, I hope it can add some more information to this subject.

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I agree with you, I cannot study with music on. It distracts me too. However, I have witnessed the same thing, many students here at Penn State have their earbuds in whenever they are doing work, so clearly your findings are correct- results vary and everyone is different. If you want, you can read this article, it has a lot of information on this topic too 🙂

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I found your blog interesting because I always listen to music while I study. I just find it calming and relaxing and helps me read at a faster tempo. It seems there are some theories on the impact of music and studying. Some scientists say that if you’re doing any language-related work your should stay away from music with lyrics tied in because your mind will try to process what the song is saying and will ignore the mental process of the reading/writing being done. It seems like the theory also states that if you’re doing math related work music with lyrics might not be so problematic.

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While scrolling through posts this one immediately intrigued me, most likely because i am currently listening to music and often do while studying. From my perspective, I have found listening to music while doing work very beneficial, but the genre is very important to me. I actually have found that rap may have a negative effect while studying but listening to old artists like ludwig van beethoven keeps me extremely focused on the task at hand. Definitely not the most exciting music, but it gets the job done.

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I’m with you whenever I try to put on music while studying it completely messes with my train of thought. I can’t focus, instead I am the person who just keeps changing the song and not able to find one I like. In the car I am the person who listens to half a song then gets bored and changes it. But, I am the person who can watch TV while studying and doing homework without issue. I put on my netflix show and just let it play. I have found that I relate certain things I was studying or reading to something I heard from the show that was playing. Here is a personal blog from someone who also feels that TV helped them to study.

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I have studied listening to Mozart before, and completed assignments this same way as well. There have also been times were I couldn’t focus because the music was too drawing to my attention. My only question would be could this depend on the topic that I was studying?

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I found your blog post to be very interesting. As I study in Findlay Commons as well I constantly find myself looking around at others studying and I easily become very distracted. I usually put my headphones in and listen to music while studying, I have noticed that this enhances my performance as I am able to block out any other sounds. I enjoyed reading about all of the studies conducted on this topic, and find it interesting to read about the different effects that music can have on ones studies. I found an article that weighed out some positives and negatives on listening to music while studying. It includes some great points as well so I hope you give it a read!

Comments are closed.

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7 Benefits Of Listening To Music While Studying

Photograph of the blog post author, Annika Hope

Annika Hope

Knuckling down to some revision can be hard. So what can you do to make your study time more effective and productive?  And what exactly are the benefits of listening to music while studying?

There are proven benefits of listening to music while studying , but it has to be the right kind of music. Research has shown that music can help you focus, concentrate, relax, feel motivated, improve memory and make the process much more enjoyable . 

Read on to find out how it can help with your academic performance, and what you should be adding to your playlist, for the most successful study periods.   

Benefits of listening to music while studying  

is it bad to listen to music while doing your homework

Have your parents, teachers or lecturers been encouraging you to plug into Spotify or iTunes while studying? If so, there’s a good reason behind it. You may be aware of the benefits of studying music, but did you know that there are many benefits to listening to music while studying all sorts of topics.

There are some caveats of course. Certain types of music work better than others and some subjects and learning approaches aren’t as conducive to using background sounds. But for the majority of students, there are a host of benefits.  

How is music beneficial to students?  

There are few things music doesn’t improve – be it a night out, meal, car journey, long flight, gym session or brisk walk. If you enjoy listening to music (and perhaps even if you don’t) music can motivate you, keep you studying for longer, make it more enjoyable and increase your cognitive function. We’ll be looking at the science behind the theories and experiences of many people.  

Advantages of listening to music while studying

#1  music helps you study  .

In the 1990s Dr Gordon Shaw developed a theory called The Mozart Effect. He had studied brain theory and spatial reasoning in problem-solving for decades. Following a period of research with a group of students, he deduced that their IQ had improved nine points, by frequently listening to Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major.”

Scientists carrying out further studies didn’t always find the same results. So it seems it does vary from person to person. But one thing’s for sure, listening to Mozart – or similar sounds won’t make you less intelligent and it’s likely to do the opposite.  

How does music help you study?  

There are many ways music helps you study. One of the ways in which it improves your performance specifically in this area is by keeping you going longer. Less isn’t more when it comes to learning and by increasing your time spent revising, you’ll take in a great deal. But let’s face it, studying can be tedious and boring.

Playing music, especially for subjects you find dull and less inspiring can make it more interesting, meaning you won’t throw in the towel and stop as quickly as you might, without some accompaniment. Music = endurance.  

Is music bad for studying?  

Music can be bad for studying if it changes too rapidly. Seek out more sustained sounds with longer repetitive tracks. Don’t change songs frequently or use medleys. Many people say they find the music less useful for language study and reading fiction – the latter is likely because it requires your brain to imagine and visualise the world of the book.  

#2  Music helps you focus   

Endurance + focus is a great combination. But do you have a wandering mind? If you find yourself thinking about everything except work, as soon as you open your books, your problem may be in focus. Music is an ideal remedy when reading dry, factual textbooks, learning facts or solving problems.  

Why does music help you focus?  

You may find your mind wanders easily when carrying out these activities. Adding gentle sounds will provide a kind of white noise background, allowing your brain to zone into what you’re doing, rather than entertaining itself with background distractions, like intermittent traffic noise or voices.

There are times when your body and mind do need some silence. So be careful not to always fill every gap with sound. Take time every day to remove audio stimulation completely allowing your ears and mind to rest.  

How can listening to music help you focus?  

In this video, you’ll learn a little more about how it can help you focus on the task at hand and when listening to music doesn’t work so well for achieving focus.  

#3  Music helps you concentrate   

Similar to helping you focus, gentle music will enable you to concentrate on what you’re doing. Brain imaging scans show that music activates both the left and right sides of the brain at the same time – the activation of both hemispheres simultaneously can intensify learning abilities. Firing up different areas of your brain helps it stay in shape. Brain cells are known to die from inactivity – so use them or lose them! And boosting your brainpower can be as easy as listening to some lovely sounds.  

How does listening to music help you concentrate?  

As with the other benefits we list in this article, it does depend on what you’re listening to. Give the metal and miss and pop on some Classic FM or chill out sounds. Listening to music when you’re not studying can also have positive effects on your ability to concentrate when you do knuckle down to some work too.  

How does music affect concentration?  

Music helps reduce anxiety and process emotions in a healthy way. This leaves your brain free to concentrate on what you’re doing, rather than being plagued by worries and trying to sort through your feelings. Have you ever noticed how much better your mind works following some meditation or a massage? You can think more clearly and problem-solve more effectively. The same applies to the right kind of music exposure.  

#4  Music affects academic performance  

A primary school in Bradford made the news when it saw its SATS results dramatically improve after incorporating more music into the curriculum, despite being in a very deprived area, and usually producing poor academic performances. As so many of the students speak English as a foreign language, music breaks down barriers and enables greater degrees of communication, satisfaction and achievement.  

It has long been known that those who study music often do better in maths too. And introducing music at a young age aids cognitive development. If you have kids, enrolling them in music lessons often has a lot of advantages beyond simply learning an instrument (although that too is a super life skill).  

Does listening to music affect academic performance?

Researchers at Cardiff Metropolitan University tested reading comprehension with music and found that the subjects found it harder to concentrate with music present. But this was particular to reading and while there are no conclusive studies available to fully prove a comprehensive improvement in academic performance, there are many who find that it has a positive effect overall.

This is no doubt because of the mixture of benefits delivered. It is, as we’ve mentioned, also very dependent on whether your tunes of choice are likely to put you off.  

How does listening to music improve academic performance?  

Another reason academic performance might be affected is the ability for music to move the brain to pay attention. A study at Standford University used brain imaging to discover that peak activity often happened, during moments of silence within a longer musical movement. Music helps the brain sift events, allowing it to hone into the things that matter, better.  

#5  Music helps motivate study (so you enjoy it!)  

One of the biggest challenges with studying is actually knuckling down to it, then sticking at it once you’ve started. Add in some of your favourite tunes and it takes on a whole new lease of life. Create your very own learning playlist for a soundtrack to your study. Do you have a motivational song you listen to before going on stage or doing an audition? It’s a similar concept. Pick songs that get you in the zone. Focus on the outcome of your efforts and get excited about it.  

Listening to music while studying research  

We often talk about the positive effects singing has on the brain and body, improving mental and physical health. But you don’t necessarily have to make music yourself to reap some of the rewards. Scientists have discovered that listening to music releases dopamine in the brain. This is a feel-good chemical.  

Some of the benefits have to do with the vibrations of sound, others are associated with the ebb and flow and musical arcs experienced when listening.  

Listening to music while studying – an experiment  

We’ve talked a little about the types of music you should listen to. In this experiment using undergraduate medical students, many reported that it was distracting to have a soundtrack. Those listening to soft music reported 75% more correct answers than those listening to fast tracks. The message is – don’t use your dance beats, or electronica when studying if you want to do well academically.   

#6  Music improves memory   

If you’re a singer , this is a brilliant opportunity for some multi-tasking. The act of learning lyrics and the notes helps improve your memory and even fights against longer-term illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

Your brain is a muscle, so the more you memorise and learn, the better it gets at it. And this crosses over from performance to academia. Listening to music improves mood and a positive emotional state is also linked to better memory.  

How can I improve my memory for studying?  

Learn a new song a week and you’ll soon impress your mates with your fantastic ability to remember facts and stories connected to your school, college or uni work. There are lots of tricks to help you remember things – try different ones to work out which suits you best. Here are some great tips and suggestions you might like to try.  

Listening to instrumental music while studying  

Memorising lyrics is a great way to boost those brain cells, but don’t attempt to do it while trying to study. Keep the two actions separate – use words to practice and exercise the memory, and then use wordless music to study with.

Try to avoid instrumental tracks of songs you sing. If you hear the melodies while working, you’re likely to automatically start singing the lyrics in your head. In terms of memory function, this is great, as it means you’ve cemented them in place. But it will put you off your thread when doing other tasks that require concentration.  

#7  Music helps you relax  

Music is excellent for your overall mental health and in aiding relaxation. The more relaxed and calm you are, the better you’ll feel and the more you’ll achieve academically. Stress is a big problem for students and is counter-productive, but can be hard to combat. Anything that helps relieve these feelings and promote wellbeing is likely to up your game and make you happier in the process. So it makes sense to include music in your work and personal life.  

How does music help relieve stress?  

As you listen to music , your heart rate often syncs in time with the rhythm. Because of this, people who regularly experience stress are often advised to listen to music that lowers the heart rate to a normal resting beat (classical music is a common favourite for this). If you’re feeling nervous, with a fast heartbeat and sweaty palms before an exam or performance, pop on some calming music, focus on sustained breathing and close your eyes. You can actually induce a state of calm and slow your heartbeat to a resting rate this way.  

What kind of music is good for studying?   

How do you want to feel when studying? Some people like to get the adrenaline flowing, although this is more likely to be beneficial in an exam type scenario, or when cramming, when you need a quick boost of energy.

For sustained, lengthy study sessions in which you need to absorb information or write a dissertation, you’re usually better off with something calm and chilled – but no so relaxing you drift off to sleep! Jazz, folk and classical are great genres for studying.

Streaming sites and YouTube are packed with great playlists, so you don’t have to spend valuable study time compiling your own playlists.  

Disadvantages of listening to music while studying  

Disadvantages tend to come with the wrong choice of music. Avoid anything with lyrics as this is more likely to distract and encourage singing along. Similarly, stay away from your absolute faves. Even without lyrics, you’re likely to tune into the melodies you love best.

For some people, any sound at all is distracting and the less external stimulation present when studying, the better. If this is you, find a quiet indoor spot without any screens (unless they’re directly connected to what you’re doing). And put your phone on silent and out of reach – notifications are the worst culprits for putting you off your stride.  

If you love to listen to music, then this will no doubt be good news. But the message is, don’t let your favourite playlists reign over your study time. Use music that best fits the task. It does help if it something you quite like, from a motivation perspective, but they shouldn’t be your top tunes. It’s also a great opportunity to expose yourself to different genres and periods.

Classical music tends to be less popular with younger people, but it can be a great source of study friendly compositions. Expand your musical experiences to styles you wouldn’t ordinarily pick and you may just up your grades in the process.   

Related Questions  

  • What per cent of students listen to music while studying?  

A recent survey estimated that around 60% of students use music to help with studying. Previous studies have suggested around 50% do so. So it’s likely that at least half will have some when working – you’re certainly not alone if you like to have your favourite playlist while studying. 

  • What are the benefits of listening to music in class?  

There’s something really powerful about a shared music experience and it’s not limited to choirs. You can learn theory and explore the creativity of composition with fellow students. It also helps keep the group calm and centred.  

  • Is it bad to study with music on?  

It depends what you’re listening to and whether it’s distracting or encouraging. You might need to experiment with different tunes to find what works for you, not against you (and it might not be your usual go-to albums).  

Have you found the benefits of listening to music while studying? What genre of music do you find is best and do you have any favourite albums or artists for it? Tell us what you think in the comments below. 



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M usic is an indispensable part of our life and you will hardly meet a person who doesn’t like listening to it. Of course, it can be a music of different genres, with or without lyrics, modern or classical, but people enjoy listening to music and can combine a variety of activities with it.

Young generations are also fans of music and every second student has always his headphones. Students listen to music everywhere: on-the-go, in public transport, in the shower and even when they do their homework. However, the last habit is quite controversial as scientists have different opinions about the effect music produces on studying. Let’s analyze the viewpoints of different scholars and decide whether pros or cons of listening to music while you do your homework will outweigh.

How can music be beneficial?

It is not surprising to see different studies about the influence of music on learning and their results are sometimes opposite to each other. Some scientists claim that music can influence the brain work positively as well as provide a learner with some huge advantages including:


  • Useful for creative and reflection activities The study done at John Hopkin’s University confirms the viewpoint that music can be a great boost in writing , brainstorming, project work, problem-solving activities. It can improve productivity as well as be a perfect solution for several minutes of rest to recharge for the next activity.

music and homework 2

Negative impact of music on doing homework

At the same time, many students still call music a distraction. Why does it happen? The answer is simple, students speak about absolutely different styles of music.

It goes without saying that listening to the song with words you will be more likely to distract from studying by repeating the words of the singer. This fact was confirmed by the University of Phoenix where researchers have proved that lyrics activates language-processing centers of the brain and that results in a lack of concentration and difficulties to recall the memorized information .

The last fact was described in the book “ Educational Psychology ”. Context-dependent learning means that people will recall information better in the same environment how they were memorizing it. If it was a music background at home, there are few chances that this background will be at school too, so information recalling will suffer greatly as well.

One more apparent point is a huge difference in people’s learning styles. Some people will have a much better productivity studying in silence, the others chewing a burger and one more group watching a TV. Music can be beneficial only to some of the students as any sound can affect the performance of others negatively. Consequently, it is impossible to make the only right conclusion about the ultimate benefit or the toughest negative impact of music on student’s performance of the home assignment. The only conclusion is apparent: everything depends on the person and his study environment .

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