Should You Listen to Music While Studying?

We all love music – it’s a big part of our lives. You may be so accustomed to music that you listen to it while doing chores or when studying. It may be a great way to keep calm and get you in the zone, but should you listen to music while trying to understand and memorise all that you’ve learned in school? Since music has both positive and negative impacts on your studies, let’s break down the instances when music can be helpful and when it’s a distraction.

When is Music Helpful?

It is a given that music has positive effects on your mood and perhaps even your productivity levels. In fact, according to the “Mozart Effect,” listening to music, particularly those that Mozart composed, individuals were supposedly reported to have a short-term cognitive enhancement in terms of visual-spatial reasoning. While the study was relatively controversial in the scientific community, the apparent benefits of listening to music have become widely accepted. The other benefits of music include the following:

1. Motivates you to study

According to studies, when we listen to music, our brains release dopamine, a chemical that acts as a “reward centre”. It is responsible for the goal-oriented behaviour that helps us get motivated. Listening to music while you’re studying helps influence you to focus on the task at hand. Songs with an upbeat tempo and inspiring lyrics boost your confidence and hype you, leading to you feeling more inspired to study.

2. Boosts your mood

Studying, especially during exam week, may seem stressful. Since the number of lessons that have to be reviewed can get overwhelming, most students turn to music during their study sessions to rid themselves of the pressure. According to studies, listening to mood-improving music such as classical or lo-fi tunes allows you to manage your stress levels and relax as such tunes can lift your spirits. 

3. Stimulates your brain

Music helps activate the areas of your brain responsible for memorisation and processing information. It helps stimulate your brain to improve your cognitive abilities, such as visual processing and concentration. Listening to music can also help block out distracting background noises and keep your brain stimulated and engaged, allowing you to focus on your studies for long periods of time without getting tired too easily.

When is Music a Distraction?

Although listening to music while you study has its benefits, it can also be distracting to some. For example, if you find yourself ever concentrating more on the songs rather than the text you are reading, you might want to take a break from listening to them. Other instances when music becomes a distraction are when they:

1. Overstimulate working memory

Your working memory has a limited capacity to hold and process temporary information. It also plays a big part in your learning, problem-solving, logical reasoning, and decision-making capabilities. This means that you have to use your working memory to answer complex math problems or comprehend essential concepts discussed in your lessons. Listening to music while studying can reduce your working memory capacity, reducing the amount of information you absorb.

2. Make reading comprehension difficult

Reading can sometimes become more challenging when you’re listening to music. Depending on the type of music you’re listening to, you may feel like gaining full comprehension of what you’re reading is difficult. Moreover, if you’re listening to EDM (electronic dance music), pop, or rock music, you might feel overstimulated or agitated, causing you to lose focus more frequently. But that’s not. While feeling hyped and in the zone, listening to your favourite tunes may even trigger you to sing along to the lyrics and temporarily forget about the material you’re reading.

3. Develop unhealthy reliance

Developing an unhealthy reliance on music prevents you from studying productively in its absence. If you rely heavily on listening to music while studying, you may not be able to pay attention in learning environments like classrooms and exam halls where listening to music is not allowed. Because of this over-reliance, grades and academic performance can be affected in the long run.

What Kind of Music Can You Listen to While Studying?

Now that we’ve learned the pros and cons of listening to music while studying, how can you utilise it to increase your focus? You can take note of these factors if you want to listen to music while doing schoolwork:

  • Avoid songs with lyrics to prevent getting distracted.
  • Opt for slow, instrumental, lo-fi music to help create a conducive and relaxing environment.
  • Stream ad-free music to avoid breaking your concentration while you focus on your studies.
  • Keep the volume to a minimum to avoid getting overstimulated.
  • Ensure you don’t rely on listening to music too much so you can work productively without it.

Want to listen to something else other than music? You can try listening to podcasts as well. Nowadays, podcasts tackle a wide range of interesting topics from entertainment and music to politics and current events. Find one that piques your interest and it just might be the perfect alternative to listening to music while studying. 

Create Better Study Habits with Zenith Education Studio

Music may help you get inspired to study, but developing optimal study habits can help you become a more productive student. Zenith Education Studio can help you develop ways to create a more conducive learning experience through our secondary and JC tuition centres in Singapore. We offer JC and secondary school tuition for students who want to prepare for higher-level learning or want to catch up on their current subjects.

Our Bukit Timah tuition centre offers tuition for JC students, while our Potong Pasir tuition centre is open to accepting JC and secondary school students. Visit one of our branches for more information on our available courses. You can also get in touch with us for a free trial class or to learn more about how we can cater to the different learning requirements of each level.

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