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Studying with music in the background?

by Pupil
Tags: awesomest, habits, music, studying, thread
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Pupil
#1
Jun26-09, 01:03 AM
P: 136
So I'm not big on blaring death metal from a $20 boom box while doing Calculus problems or anything, but I'll often put some light classical music on in the background while studying, or the occasional rock and roll at a fairly low volume. My question is, how does this affect one's ability to effectively study? Some people are obviously more distracted than others -- I have friends who swear by playing music while studying and others who are the complete opposite. But regardless of what we think, does this actually benefit, adversely affect, or remain benign to our studying? I wonder if there has been any research on these questions.

It is well known that the human brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time: that is to say multitasking is a myth. It doesn't then seem to be a stretch to say music that has a lot of singing would be distracting from study.

Supposing all forms of music are distracting and ultimately produce a less effective use of time studying when compared with silent studying, I would hardheadedly still listen to Mozart or the like while studying, so this really wouldn't persuade me to cut the music off anyway -- but I'm curious. What do you think?
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thrill3rnit3
#2
Jun26-09, 01:29 AM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozart_effect
Pupil
#3
Jun26-09, 01:46 AM
P: 136
An interesting article, but I wonder more what effect contemporary music, such as rock or pop, would have on the study habits of a student. Would such music ultimately provide a more distracting environment to learn in, or would it have no effect on the student?

thrill3rnit3
#4
Jun26-09, 01:57 AM
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Studying with music in the background?

It depends on the student itself IMO. I have no problem doing work while my music is playing, or even when my brother is screaming at the top of his lungs. However other kids get distracted too easily even with the tiniest bit of noise.
boboYO
#5
Jun26-09, 03:00 AM
P: 104
Yea I find I make more mistakes and lose my train of thought when I'm listening to music.
junglebeast
#6
Jun26-09, 09:57 AM
P: 462
It depends highly on the type of music. I find that listening to relaxing ambient or world music acts will quickly become tuned out by the brain, but acts as a sort of metronome for the tune of my thinking. After working for a while I may become aware that the music has stopped 20 minutes ago leaving an eerie calm.

Another benefit of music is that it can put your mind at ease by returning to a familiar place. For example if you study listening to the same peaceful song on repeat for many hours, then go into an exam and play that same song, it makes it much easier to block out the sounds of other people flipping pages on their exam etc which can be distracting if focused on. I once went into 'panic mode' in an exam and everything I had studied simply flushed out of my brain...I'm fairly certain this would not have happened had my music been with me.
physics girl phd
#7
Jun26-09, 12:03 PM
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Quote Quote by junglebeast View Post
Another benefit of music is that it can put your mind at ease by returning to a familiar place. For example if you study listening to the same peaceful song on repeat for many hours, then go into an exam and play that same song, it makes it much easier to block out the sounds of other people flipping pages on their exam etc which can be distracting if focused on. I once went into 'panic mode' in an exam and everything I had studied simply flushed out of my brain...I'm fairly certain this would not have happened had my music been with me.
This is a disadvantage though... it's been shown you should study in a place and way that will as closely resemble the test conditions as possible. (Therefore in my case, drinking a beer before taking a graduate E&M exam actually did help -- since my policy on helping my classmates in a subject I really enjoy was bring beer to my place, we'll look over the homework together!) Many testing conditions won't allow in electronic devices.

So with regards to writing a term paper, etc, OK, listen to your music. But if you're preparing for a test, I would think twice.
Pupil
#8
Jun26-09, 05:29 PM
P: 136
What the last few posts seem to describe is the use of music (or lack thereof) to anchor the information you learned while studying. If one listens to Beethoven's 5th while studying, doing so in the testing room will help with recalling the information since it is anchored to that composition. Has this been researched and proven to work?
junglebeast
#9
Jun26-09, 06:00 PM
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Quote Quote by physics girl phd View Post
This is a disadvantage though... it's been shown you should study in a place and way that will as closely resemble the test conditions as possible.
I don't disagree that listening to music may create somewhat of a dependence upon it during the exam, but there was not a single exam I took in college where I wasn't allowed to listen to music on headphones...and the positive side is that it put me into a more focused mood.
Astronuc
#10
Jun26-09, 06:10 PM
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When I was in high school, I would have the TV on while doing homework.

Later in university, I'd listen to the Moody Blues or similar music.

The music and background noise helped me concentrate.
turbo
#11
Jun26-09, 06:20 PM
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Gotta back-stop Astro here. In college, having Dylan, Hendrix, Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Fleetwood Mac, etc on in the background (reasonable levels) helped block out some distractions and made it easier to study. You don't want to have "new" (to you) or highly progressive music when studying engineering - just stuff that you love and know by heart.
mbisCool
#12
Jun26-09, 07:06 PM
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I am unsure as to whether it helps or not, but I often leave the television on low while doing homework. It seems entirely individual dependent. I listen to rap music which is mostly about the lyrics and not the instrumentals. If I listen to rap while studying I find it difficult not to say the words in my head. "Soft" music is rather relaxing however.
Office_Shredder
#13
Jun27-09, 03:38 AM
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I like to listen to music because I can't focus for more than ten minutes without getting bored and needing something else to do. If I don't have music to listen to that quickly devolves into an hour or more of websurfing. A minor side effect is I found myself singing/humming songs throughout all of my exams
Jonathan Scott
#14
Jun27-09, 03:52 PM
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I play classical music (as an amateur pianist and violinist). When I'm working or studying, I have difficulty finding any background music which doesn't either attract my attention and get me too immersed in the experience or on the other side irritate and distract me.

On the other hand, I often find that taking a break from my work or study and playing the piano for a few minutes helps me refresh my thinking. Quite often, after a few minutes of playing I find that I'm thinking about my work or study again in a new way. There are many other ways of taking a break, such as washing the dishes or doing a little tidying up in the garden, but I find playing a bit of music particularly effective.

For background noise which helps me relax without distracting me, I like the sound of steady rain, gentle wind in the trees and so on. Stronger levels of general background noise such as engine noise in a train, aircraft or ship tend to make me sleepy.
Santa1
#15
Jun27-09, 05:21 PM
P: 104
I listen to lots of music while studying, I'm sure that says anything at all about the effects though.
Pupil
#16
Jun27-09, 11:26 PM
P: 136
Quote Quote by *-<|:-D=<-< View Post
I listen to lots of music while studying, I'm sure that says anything at all about the effects though.
It could say something. Do you have good grades?

Relating to what Jonathan Scott said, I completely agree with taking breaks often. If I get stuck on a problem or just can't concentrate, I'll go do something else for a bit (usually play guitar), come back, and make some progress.

Using rain or other ambient/natural sounds is something I'll do also. A little rain forest rain puts me right to sleep.
Santa1
#17
Jun28-09, 03:33 PM
P: 104
The post was supposed to say "I'm not sure" by the way, I guess that was the way you interpeted it.

Well I only have good grades in physics and mathematics, rest of them are "O.K." I guess, I also just had some bad exams but I'm finally done with high school (wohoo).
waht
#18
Jun28-09, 06:51 PM
P: 1,636
I can't stand listening to Mozart regardless if I'm studying or not. However I will put on some hardcore epic Shostakovitch, or Mahler symphony in between brakes when studying. The music seems to inspire me to continue studying.


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