Ah, the power of music! Recent research has found that fast-paced beats can increase your exercise intensity and slow, quiet music can even reduce stress. But what type of music is best to help you study? Los Angeles teacher Kelly K. shares her findings here…
It is widely accepted that the best environment for concentration is a quiet one; however the majority of students in the US say they prefer to study while listening to music, and in fact the highest achieving students are even guiltier of this. Why do students do this? To block out more distracting noise, to motivate themselves, to stay awake or to calm nerves… Whatever the reason, it’s important to find music that will serve your needs, while causing the least amount of distraction. The type of music a student listens to while studying contributes to how much information she can retain and how well she can focus. The most common type of music students report listening to while studying is popular music. However, if a person chooses to listen to music while trying to complete a task, is popular music really the best choice?
No! Classical instrumental is by far the better choice. Inspired by the findings of “The Mozart Effect,” I researched this further for my senior thesis in college. I had 112 participants and my results were statistically significant. I found that, on average, students score 90% on spatial reasoning tasks conducted in silence, 83% when listening to classical instrumental music, and 72% while listening to popular music with lyrics. This means that your choice of music could affect your GPA by a whole letter grade! One of the reasons for this may be that, due to a person’s capacity for attention, lyrics inhibit ability to focus.
Interestingly enough, I found that women are not only more likely to listen to music while trying to complete a task, but they are also more likely to become distracted by it. So, girls: try to study in a quiet environment, but if you must listen to music, make a good choice and go for classical rather than popular!
No matter what the reason, students are more likely to study while listening to music than to study in silence. So, make a smart decision and go for classical instead of popular – it could make the difference of a whole letter grade!
Kelly K. teaches piano to students of all ages and levels in Los Angeles, CA. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Music from Scripps College, and joined the TakeLessons team in August 2011. Sign up for lessons with Kelly, or visit TakeLessons to search for teachers near you!