Music in School

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It’s not uncommon to see high school and college students walking around with headphones in their ears, blaring music. This is enjoyable, but is it a good to do while studying? A multitude of studies have shown that listening to music can improve performance with reading and studying. But not all music is helpful when you’re trying to learn a new subject.

Many scientists and psychologists have been studying the effects of listening to music while studying, reading, and performing other tasks. In July of 2010, researchers at the University of Wales studied one’s ability to recall information under the presence of different sounds. The researchers asked 25 participants between the ages of 18-30 to memorize and recall a list of letters in order. The participants were tested with varying conditions: music they liked, music they didn’t like, a voice repeating the number 3, and a voice reciting random single-digit numbers. The test found that the participants performed worse listening to music and the speech of random numbers and did the best in the quiet and while listening to the recited 3.

Another study that was conducted by Rauscher, F. H., and Shaw, three students from University of California, exposed the Mozart Effect. Thirty six students were asked to listen to “Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos” for ten minutes. Rauscher, F.H, and Shaw found that the students showed significantly better spatial reasoning skills than they did after listening to relaxation instructions or being in silence. The mean of the participant’s spatial IQ scores was 8 to 9 points higher after they listened to Mozart than in the other two conditions. The effect, however, did not last longer than 10-15 minutes, and the results were thought controversial.

But the Mozart effect could prove useful for studying for your next test. Listening to music without lyrics has tended to show better results when studying and memorizing lists. Listening to popular, more distracting music, such as rap or dubstep, can be harmful to your studying efforts.

But what if you despise classical music because it reminds you of your grandmother? Then you might want to opt for silence instead of dubstep or the newest hit. A tempo of 60 beats per minute activates the right side of your brain, while studying activates the left side. When both sides are being used, the brain is more effective. In addition to that, the brain subconsciously focuses on patterns. Classical and baroque music follows a structure that repeats once through the song. On the other hand, listening to dubstep, which has a less regular pattern, can sabotage your studies and make it harder for you to focus on your work. Search the internet for music to study with and you will find many suggestions, such as

If you’re trying to learn a new language or memorize an equation, listening to music with lyrics is never a good idea. Studies have proven that when you try to learn a language or memorize a list, having someone singing in the background distracts your brain and causes you to lose focus on the words you’re supposed to be studying.


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