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What is the Relationship Between Music and Studying?

By Siri Doddapaneni

Music is a fundamental part of 21st-century education. From being a creative way for students to express themselves, to encouraging students to explore the fine arts further, music became a transcendental part of education these past few years. Many students find music as a therapeutic and calming way that helps them focus, and studies found that 60-75% of students listen to music while studying. However, from the concerns of parents and teachers, the relationship between music and studying has been questioned

While considering the link between music and studying, it is important to consider its benefits. Music reduces stress and encourages positive feelings in students while studying. Studious outcomes are bettered when a student is in a better mood, and music reduced anxiety and increases success in learning. Music serves as a strong motivator as well by activating reward centers in the brain. It can increase focus, as a ScienceDirect study suggests, because music can help to absorb and interpret new information. The study “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.” Music is beneficial during studying because it acts as a cognitive stimulator for the brain.

However, listening to music while performing other tasks does have its cons. Music does have the power to distract. For example, when you are sad or upset, music serves as a distraction from those feelings to make you feel happier and more positive. But, this can have an adverse effect on studying because it can derail your train of thought or interrupt your work. Music might also reduce the capacity of your working memory, which you use for problem-solving and learning. Manipulating several pieces of information at one time could become a challenge if listening to music simultaneously.

A Healthline article from 2022 offers tips on choosing music that works best for studying:

  • 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.

  • Avoid surprising or experimental music. Music that changes abruptly or lacks a fixed rhythm can leave you too focused on the music instead of your work.

  • Keep the volume low. Study music should stay at a background volume to not disrupt your thinking.

  • 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. An interrupting commercial can derail your train of thought and focus.

Overall, the idea of whether music is helpful or harmful lies in the ears of the beholder, but listening to music holds beneficial to increasing the learning capacity and potential of students.

Works Cited

“Here's How Music Can Help You Concentrate.” Healthline, 2022, Healthline Media,

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