Should a student listen to music while studying?

I often get asked by parents should a student listen to music while studying?  When answering this question I usually say that there are a variety of factors to consider before giving a simple YES or NO answer as all students are different in the way they learn and study – what works for one may or may not work for another.  For some students studying and listening to music can be a productive combination whilst for others they might think they are being productive when they are in fact likely to get distracted by the music, take longer to complete their work and find it isn’t up to the quality or standard that it should be.

The type of questions I often ask a parent and/or a student include:

  • does your child have any learning challenges ie ADHD?
  • what subjects are they working on when they typically want to listen to music?
  • how are they going in those subjects at school?
  • does it have any affect on the quality of work they are producing – do you know?
  • what type of music are they listening to?
  • are they still completing their best work?
  • do they get distracted by the music at all?
  • does studying with music help with their concentration?
  • what are their reasons for listening to music?
  • do they listen to music so as not to be bored with studying?

By asking these questions I am trying to ascertain if studying with music is actually likely to help or hinder a student.

In most cases listening to music while engaging in homework or study/revision is seeing a student multi-tasking.  We know that multi- tasking in general is not effective and can lead to slower mental processes and be distracting.  If a student isn’t able to focus on his or her homework while listening to music then it is probably not for them.

However for some students, particularly those with ADHD, music can be important as it helps to feed the brain.  Music is rhythm and rhythm is structure which can help a students brain to focus, attend, plan and initiate.  Mind you having said that it isn’t all types of music and research has shown that certain types of music are usually better than others ie classical or non lyrical.  These types of music can be soothing and relaxing and can assist students to beat stress and anxiety whilst studying.

If a student does feel they need to listen to music then it is best they choose music they like and are familiar with as it can be less distracting.  It is said they should image of music and books to convey should a student listen to music while studying?avoid music that is high intensity and loud sound.  Changes in volume can be distracting and take a students attention away from what they are doing.  In general research has found that usually instrumental music (with no lyrics) is the best form of music to listen to when studying and is less likely to be a distraction.  Students who listen to music with lyrics or that is loud, while completing reading or writing tasks, tend to be less efficient and don’t usually find as much information has been absorbed into their long term memory.

Unfortunately I haven’t given you the definitive answer that you may have been seeking.  At the end of the day it is really up to you and your child to make up your own minds in deciding whether it is good to study with music and whether it is productive or not.

For further support or ideas on how I can assist you and your child please get in touch or give me a call 0409 967 166.