What Type Of Music Should You Listen To While Doing Homework

Sep 25 2016

by Destiny Abercrumbie

5 Reasons Why You Should Listen to Music While Doing Homework

By Destiny Abercrumbie - Sep 25 2016
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If you are like me, then when you have to study for a test or do any type of homework, doing it in complete silence just feels weird. You need something to happen in the background, a little noise that can help you stay focused and not let your mind wander off. The perfect solution is to listen to music while doing homework because it helps block off the rest of the world's distractions. To some people, it may be a bad thing, but here's why it's a good thing.

1. Music helps you study.

There have been studies done by universities such as The University of Wales that show that listening to music while studying can improve memory, attention and your ability to do mental math, as well as lessen depression and anxiety. 

Researchers also did a test to see how background music affects students' test scores. The students who took a test with music did have a lower average score than those who didn’t have music, but the researchers noted that there was a lot of variation in the scores. This could tell us that the effect of music can vary a lot from person to person. Researchers believe that more research needs to be done on how the factors of tempo, genre or whether students are used to having music on make any difference.

2. Music helps you focus.

According to a study done at Johns Hopkins University, playing background music for creativity and reflection activities such as journaling, writing, problem-solving, goal-setting, project work or brainstorming is a great thing. There are also many uses for music including active learning. You can take a sound break or move around activities to increase productivity, energize students during daily energy lulls, provide a stimulating sound break to increase attention, make exercise more fun and encourage movement activities. To read more on this study, click here.

3. 'The Mozart Effect' is a real thing.

The Mozart Effect is book by Don Campbell that has the world's research on all the beneficial effects of certain type of music. This book includes research on how music makes us smarter. Scientists at Stanford University in California have recently revealed a molecular basis for the Mozart Effect, but not other music. Dr. Rauscher and her colleague H. Li, a geneticist, have discovered that rats, like humans, perform better on learning and memory tests after listening to a specific Mozart sonata.Some of the many benefits of the Mozart Effect include improvement in test scores, cut learning times, reduced errors, improved creativity and clarity, faster body healing, integration of both sides of the brain for more efficient learning and raised IQ scores by nine points, according to research done at University of California, Irvine.

4. Music makes us smarter.

In 1996, the College Entrance Exam Board Serviceconducted a study on all students taking their SAT exams. Students who either sang or played a musical instrument scored an average of 51 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and an average of 39 points higher on math. According to the research outlined in the book, musical pieces such as those of Mozart can relieve stress, improve communication and increase efficiency. Music starts up our brain and makes us feel more energetic and a link has been made between music and learning. 

According to Don Campbell, the author of the Mozart Effect, "In the workplace, music raises performance levels and productivity by reducing stress and tension, masking irritating sounds and contributing to a sense of privacy."

5. Music improves the brain and helps heal the body.

Music also stimulates different regions of the brain responsible for memory, motor control, timing and language. At McGill University in Montreal, neuroscientist Anne Blood, said, "You can activate different parts of the brain, depending on what music you listen to. So music can stimulate parts of the brain that are underactive in neurological diseases or a variety of emotional disorders. Over time, we could retrain the brain in these disorders." 

Harvard University Medical School neurobiologist, Mark Jude Tramo, says that "Undeniably, there is a biology of music.  There is no question that there is specialization within the human brain for the processing of music.  Music is biologically part of human life, just as music is aesthetically part of human life."

In conclusion, there are many benefits to listening to music and it is not a bad thing to do in order to stay focused.  So if you ever need a solution to stay focused or concentrate on the task at hand, slip on a pair of headphones and play some music.

Lead Image Credit: Steinar La Engeland via Unsplash


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College students love multitasking. We also love music. It would make sense, then, that most of us enjoy listening to some type of music when we’re studying or doing homework.

Having music on in the background makes the task at hand feel a little less stressful and serious. It can have a calming effect while keeping us focused, or it can provide motivation by pumping us up.

Music choices can vary depending on what kind of student or person you are. Here is a list of the types of music popular among college students while they are getting their work done.

1. Classical

Some students prefer music of the classical genre when studying or completing assignments for class. This type of music can be calming and great to have on in the background with any given task at hand.

If you’re the type of student who can’t focus while there is music with lyrics playing, try out classical music. There will be no distraction from words, and it can have an extremely soothing effect.

Start with the “Exam Study Classical Music” playlist on Spotify for a variety of classical music by historically renowned composers.

2. Hip-hop/rap

On the other end of the spectrum is the hip-hop/rap genre. Students who already favor this genre outside of studying may choose to listen to it while getting their work done. Just as it might have a similar effect at the gym, hip-hop/rap gets the student pumped and ready to be productive and successful.

It also keeps the student awake and attentive, something essential for studying and getting homework done. Find a station of the genre on Pandora, playlists on Spotify, or search your favorite songs on YouTube.

3. Electronic

A happy medium between classical and hip-hop/rap is the genre of electronic. It’s calming like classical, and there usually aren’t lyrics. It’s like hip-hop in the way that it pumps you up. The beats and tempos are a bit quicker, but it’s not as generally overwhelming as hip-hop/rap while you’re trying to study.

Try Past is Prologue by Tycho, Cirrus by Bonobo, Loud Pipes by Ratatat and Spirit of Life by Blackmill.

4. Rock/light rock

If you’re a rock fan of any type, you might naturally enjoy this genre while studying. It can pump you up depending on what artist or band you’re listening to. It can be calming while motivating at the same time.

Some students might enjoy having classic rock on in the background, while others prefer heavy metal to get them pumped and keep them alert while they’re working.

Another alternative within this genre is rock or light rock without lyrics for those students who get too distracted by the words in songs when they’re trying to focus. Great artists for this preference are RJD2 and El Ten Eleven. Start with Ghostwriter by RJD2 and My Only Swerving by El Ten Eleven, and build playlists from there.

5. EDM

A step up from electronic (just a tad more intense) is EDM — Electronic Dance Music. This genre has gotten more and more popular among young audiences over the past few years along with EDM festivals across the U.S.

This genre is what would be considered the ultimate “pump-up” music. If it’s late at night, you feel yourself getting tired and you really feel like you need some study motivation, EDM is your best bet. You definitely won’t fall asleep, especially if you are listening to it loud. If you focus enough on the task at hand while listening to this type of music, you’ll stay alert and attentive to be as productive as possible.

Put on an EDM station on Pandora, or search EDM playlists on Spotify or YouTube.

6. Top hits

If you’re not a huge music aficionado, that is you don’t have a ton of favorite artists, bands or genres, but you can’t study or do homework without some type of background noise, you might just enjoy top hits. They’re what’s on the radio, so you’re most likely familiar with a lot of the songs.

Some college students just like to have some kind of sound going on in the background because it’s hard for them to focus with complete silence. Even if you don’t have specific preferences when it comes to your music, you’ll most likely enjoy top hits.

Start with a top hits station on Pandora, or by searching top songs on YouTube that you’ve heard recently to get yourself going. Spotify also has a “charts” section under the “browse” tab where you can choose between Global Top 50, United States Top 50, United States Viral 50 and Global Viral 50.=

Alexandra Brown writes for Uloop, a leading college news and college classifieds resource for student housing, jobs and internships, roommates and sublets, tutors and scholarships, study abroad, test prep, and local services for college students.

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