In a world dominated by social media and seven second videos that you simply have to see because “you will die of laughter”, it’s hard to actually sit down and get work done sometimes. Particularly for students who are surrounded by pinging notifications and absorbing newsfeeds, the distracting allure of Facebook is one that can prove disastrous for one’s work output. All it takes is to look down at a text message, and a five minute break can quickly turn into an hour long chitchat.
Thankfully, it appears that technology may also offer a solution to this problem. With the advent and commercialisation of the portable music player, a huge range of music is more easily accessible than ever before. This in turn means that many students have taken to listening to music whilst studying. Studies have suggested that listening to music can help an individual hone their concentration whilst performing normally mundane tasks, which, for the average student, is ideal.
However, not just any music will do, as a 2012 study from the University of Wales has also shown that listening to music with vocals can be counterproductive. Students who participated in the study claimed that listening to these wordy tunes “was just as distracting as hearing someone talk”. Also, if music is too intricate with fast tempos or lots of sudden changes then a similar result will occur. According to Dr Dianne Kenny from the University of Sydney “the distracting part is when the music is so interesting to the student that they allocate too much attention to it”. So, listening to Eminem’s Rap God may not be the best idea the next time you have to study for that upcoming exam. But, don’t fret, as there are some kinds of music that can be wholly beneficial to your studying.
OLD WOLFGANG AMADEUS MAY HAVE A THING OR TWO TO OFFER THE MODERN STUDENT
It’s commonly argued that listening to Mozart as an infant will make you more intelligent, and whilst this ‘Mozart Effect’ is still open to debate, old Wolfgang Amadeus may have a thing or two to offer the modern student yet. Research from the University of Dayton has found that individuals had enhanced linguistic and spatial awareness if Mozart’s music was playing in the background. Given that there are no lyrics or radical contemporary ideas in Mozart’s compositions, this does make sense. The flowing orchestral music allows students to relax whilst they are studying and therefore actually focus on what they are doing. Logic dictates that this phenomenon is not exclusive to Mozart, in theory listening to any instrumental music that doesn’t get overly intricate, be it film soundtracks, smooth jazz, or even some forms of electronica, would prove to be beneficial to distracted students.
Ultimately, though, it comes down to the individual. If you’re the kind of person who finds it difficult to multitask, listening to music – of any kind – while studying, may just cause your mind to drift. The effects of listening to music with regards to study habits will vary from person to person. In order for you find the most effective way to study, you need to figure out the effect of music on your studying ability, and then decide whether you’ll go with or without.