Does listening to music while studying improve concentration?


Many students listen to music when studying- but is it actually helpful? In this article, we will be looking into the pros and cons of studying with background music and additionally look at which genre is most effective for brain stimulation. 

Various people listen to music for various reasons. Some may listen because it’s relaxing, others for background sounds, and others for a mood boost. All reasons listed above are the positive effects music has on people when studying. Relaxing music can remove stress and anxiety, allowing one to concentrate better without being distracted by pressure. Background music can provide motivation and improve mood. Studies have shown that a good mood improves focus and study results, so listening to music can improve focus. This also connects to endurance. Music is helpful in improving endurance during long study sessions, motivating one to study for longer periods of time. Music also directly affects the brain. Memory formation and cognitive performance can be improved when working on tasks while listening to music. Music is a “brain workout”, stimulating the brain and improving concentration and focus. 

However, as many pros as there are, so are several cons present. Music can draw attention away from study tasks, lowering efficiency. Studies show that this is especially the case in music with lyrics, as lyrics can naturally pull one’s attention away from the work itself. It can especially lead to unproductiveness when doing reading or writing tasks where full attention to the text is required. Words in the lyrics will naturally draw attention away from the text, leading to poor performance in comprehension tasks. Overly loud or exciting music can also be a distraction from studying. As mentioned above, maintaining a good mood is important, but an overly excited state can lead to lower concentration on the task itself. Last but not least, students who are used to listening to music when studying may face difficulties in testing environments. When one gets used to studying in an environment with music, the brain may unconsciously use music as a tool to stimulate the brain and bring memories back. This means that they may not be able to bring back the memories or concentrate as well without music in a testing environment, which may limit their performance. 

So is music effective when studying or not? This depends entirely on the student, as many find it easier to study with music while others prefer to work without. However, there are some guidelines to follow when deciding to listen to music when studying: 

  1. Listen to music without lyrics (instrumental)
  2. Listen to slow, quiet music without surprising/experimental parts
  3. Listen to songs you’re neutral about: not too boring but also not too exciting!

Studies have also proven that classical music is most effective when studying for most people. However, this may not be the case for everyone, so be sure to experiment with different genres of music! These are a few recommendations: 

Studio Ghibli Playlist

Classical Music Playlist


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