Some studies have shown that listening to music before studying or performing a task can be beneficial. Music not only improves attention and memory, it can even enhance your ability to do mental math!
Quiet and contemplative? Or energizing and invigorating?
But, which type of music you listen to while studying is crucial.
In The Impact of Listening to Music on Cognitive Performance, author Arielle S. Dolegui explains, “Many students choose to listen to a preferred genre of music when they study or do their homework without understanding the potential harmful effects of such practice. A study conducted by Smith and Morris (1977) addressed this question by studying the effects of sedative and stimulative music.”
The study found that participants who listened to sedative music performed better than participants who listened to simulative music. Maybe more surprisingly, those students who listened to stimulative music actually performed worse than those who listened to no music at all!
This study indicates that stimulative music is a strong distractor and obstructs cognitive processing.
Skip the rap, country and rock. The classical effect!
University research in France, published in Learning and Individual Difference, recently found that listening to classical music while studying can actually help students score higher on tests.
According to research from the Duke Cancer Institute, listening (to Bach, in this case) can help to lessen anxiety.
It seems, however, that only classical music has this affect. Similar studies involving other types of music, from jazz, to rock, did not produce similar results.
The takeaway: Studying to music and using effective study skills
Each student has a preferred study method. Some enjoy music. Some do not. But, if you plan to listen while you still, crank up the Mozart… at least for a while, and don’t forget to bone up on your study skills!
Study skills are a collection of techniques that children of all ages can use to become more successful in school, and ultimately, in life. And, study skills can be learned. Since 1985, Back to Basics Learning Dynamics has offered 1-on-1 study skill instruction for kids of all ages.