Walking through Warner library, besides the focused studying students, there is one common theme that most in the library tend to have. Earbuds. Now, earbuds can play a multitude of roles in helping students study, but the most common use is for music.
For me personally, I find it almost impossible to study without having at least some form of background noise, and my go-to, like many others, is music. Even while writing this article, I have music playing through my speaker in my dorm room.
Music can be both beneficial and harmful for study habits, although there are more positive than negative aspects.
Beginning with the downsides, music can be very distracting to a studying student. While we may view music intake as just some background noise, our brain is still constantly processing the soundwaves coming from the music. Some music types are also more distracting than others, and some types of music are not recommended for studying at all. For example, anything loud and wordy may not be the best music to listen to if you are trying to focus on studying. The recommended study music, while genre is based on preference, has less words, and is played at lower volumes.
The Mozart effect theory is one of the most well known examples of how music can be beneficial while studying, but recent studies have shown that the theory may not have the same results it was once thought to have. The Mozart effect is the idea that listening to Mozart (or any other classical music) makes you smarter. This theory is based on the statistical aspect of music, and the idea that the complexity of classical music’s stimulating effect was what brought up test scores, but recent studies have shown that is not quite the case. The new theory, brought on by the “Blur effect” in the 1990’s shows that music just makes people happier. When being put in a happier mood, study habits are improved.
The Blur effect was a study conducted similarly to the Mozart effect, and it found that students had better study results when listening to music by a Pop band called Blur than with Mozart’s music. The cause of this was accredited solely to the fact that teens prefer pop music to classical music.
That being said, study music affects everyone differently, and its effectiveness varies from person to person, different personality types and different music tastes all play an important factor in what study music works best for the individual. Some people work better with no background music at all. It is really up to the individual to make the call as to what will and will not work well for themselves. Some studies have shown that extroverts have an easier time juggling music and study time, while introverts do better listening to calming and relaxing music, but again, everything varies from person to person.
One unfortunate statistic to study music, is that people have an easier time recalling information when in a similar environment to when the information was learned. For example if you learned anatomy while listening to an album by your favorite artist, then you’ll probably have an easier time remembering anatomy if you are listening to that same album. However, this is not very helpful, as when taking an exam, the room typically stays pretty quiet, so you can’t exactly pull up the album while taking a test, nor is your professor likely to play it. With COVID-19 allowing professors to assign online exams, this may be applicable, but in most other circumstances, it is not. One method similar to this that may be most possible is chewing gum. If you chew gum the same flavor you were chewing when studying, it may help your memory recollection the same way music would.
If you are thinking about using music to study, but don’t know where to start looking for what to listen to, start with your favorite genre. Almost every genre of music has lyricless versions that would be perfect for studying. Movie scores are also a good way to go, they can be a great way to know you’re listening to something that makes you happy without the commitment of watching your favorite movie, and it can be done while studying! Love Disney? Most Disney movies have voiceless scores that can be found on most music platforms. Like action movies? Try looking up your favorite movie’s score. Your options are limitless.