Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Music and maths?

  1. Yes

    11 vote(s)
  2. No

    8 vote(s)
  1. Dec 4, 2007 #1
    Do you listen to music while doing maths? Have a vote. Note in the poll question, it should be Studying maths, the word 'maths' was left out.

    Explain your reason and the pros and cons of doing it.

    If you do listen to music, then which type of music do you listen to?

    I find that it makes dong maths less boring at times but is not ideal as some of my best maths is done without listening to music. So it's good when doing revision stuff that you find easy but not good if you are doing complicated maths. This is what one would expect as doing more things at once will make one concentrate less.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    I agree with that part of your statement, and so I voted accordingly. A few people have minds which let them work differently than that and they may often prefer some music while studying. This seems strange to those of us who are not like that.

    Basically, if you turn on music while studying so that other people can hear it, then you are distracting those other people from their studying. For oneself, one must make a choice: Either study, or listen to music while not studying. If you do both at the same time, you are not doing them properly.

    If listening to music while studying were an effective way to study, then most students would be doing this and earning high grades in Calculus, Mathematical Analysis, Probability, Strategies of Proof, Trigonometry, as they study these courses.
  4. Dec 4, 2007 #3

    Ben Niehoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I need to do all my studying in silence. My most productive times in college were isolated in the basement of the library. My most productive times right now are shut away in my room. I generally do much better working on paper than on a computer, because the computer is itself a huge distraction. I do frequently have music running through my head, though...classical, generally.
  5. Dec 4, 2007 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I study math in quiet places. When I'm programming I like to listen to music, but math takes a certain amount of concentration beyond what programming requires.
  6. Dec 4, 2007 #5
    I listen to music all the time when working, if I can. Once I'm focused on my work the music goes into the background (even if it's really loud) and it just helps me stay focused. Sometimes I even listen to one song or album on repeat while I work. I can do that for all kinds of work, too -- teaching online classes, grading, studying advanced math, doing homework, writing essays. The music also keeps me from getting stressed. (I bet if I were allowed to listen to music during exams, my grades would go up significantly!)
  7. Dec 4, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Ok, if you read a little bit of psychology, you'll see that you're brains work quite different than you seem to "logically" deduce.

    For one, just because there is a lot is going, does NOT imply you're ability to concentrate is less than times when less is going on.

    In fact, if you always listen to music while studying mathematics, then when you listen to music as you're going to study mathematics, you're brain triggers itself into "remembering" what you did last time and so through the association of the music you're brain remembers more and can concentrate better. Listening to a particular album(s) during mathematics is even more effective because you're brain will only associate that music to mathematics and sometimes vice versa.

    Listening to music is more effective than not listening to music.

    Also, even the environment plays a role in it. Smell, emotions at the time, and a bunch of other factors. The brain is a fascinating thing and it DOES NOT IN ANY WAY adhere to "logic". Actually, if the brain actually did conform to logic, it would not (not even close) be as efficient as it is today. That's why the brain is so complex.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2007
  8. Dec 4, 2007 #7


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    It is the most effective way, and the reason why students don't do so well, is because that is PLAIN NORMAL and usually related to intelligence, motivation, study effectiveness and etc... and not the music playing.

    The rationalizations you guys are making are purely non-sense.
  9. Dec 5, 2007 #8
    It also brings the question which type of music is best for maths. Or is that a more personal opinion?
  10. Dec 5, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Instrumental music is conducive to relaxed, productive, study. I love blues and classic rock (back then we just called it music, and expected our peers to know), but I would not listen to them while studying for an exam. Instead, I would throw on Larry Corryell's "Fairyland" or Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. Album-length music with a nice manual turntable would require me to get up every 20 minutes or so, remove a disk, put it away, select another and reset the stylus. It's not much of a break, but it was enough.
  11. Dec 5, 2007 #10
    Interesting. Most of my music consists of trance, electronic, house, and sometimes even hip-hop -- not really relaxing at all by most people's standards.
  12. Dec 5, 2007 #11


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Please keep in mind that our technical forums are for technical questions. Not questions merely ABOUT the topic.
  13. Dec 5, 2007 #12
    Sometimes with music, sometimes without, depends on what kind of math.
    If it is lots of word problems which can get confusing, then no music, otherwise generally with some classical music.
  14. Dec 5, 2007 #13
    sorry forgot about that. General discussion is more appropriate for this one.
  15. Dec 5, 2007 #14


    User Avatar

    Music always helps me work. It keeps me excited!
  16. Dec 5, 2007 #15
  17. Dec 5, 2007 #16
    I do listen to music when I study mathematics. I do not listen to any particular type of music, just a type that keeps me from getting bored (that is only if the particular subject is one that I've gone over 50 times over or if I need something to keep me sane for a somewhat boring subject). But mostly, I use it because NOT listening to music usually makes my mind wander.
  18. Dec 5, 2007 #17
    Depends on the math (difficulty) that I am doing. For example, when I was taking calculus and just doing tons of kill and drill exercises I would listen to music quite often while studying. However, I had difficulty concentrating when I would listen to music while trying to whip out a real analysis proof.

    If I am doing something that is easy but just will take some time to do, then I will definitely listen to music (whether it is math, or anything else).

    As for type of music, generally anything 'soft.' Jazz is always good. If I listen to hip-hop then it has to be something mellow like De La Soul, or Bone Thugs N Harmony.
  19. Dec 5, 2007 #18


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I said no, because I usually study while watching TV and eating instead of while listening to music.

    If I'm studying something math related or technical in nature, I usually study it while watching the football game (or more like listening to the game) and eating. It makes a more relaxing diversion available as soon as I break away from what I'm working on to get a break. Although, unless something particularly exciting is happening in the game, the most likely result is that I break away from working on the material and spend a little time just thinking about the material. That winds up being very productive.

    Jason Rox is right about how always studying in the same environment trains the mind to start thinking about that subject whenever it's exposed to that particular environment. Your thinking about the subject winds up being better because the environment automatically triggers the brain to start thinking in a certain way. If you always study math while drunk, you'll be better at solving math problems while drunk than you are when sober.

    Which, for a student, brings up the one flaw in Jason Rox's comments. If you don't take your math test in the same type of environment that you studied your math, then your performance during your tests won't be as good as your performance while studying.

    If you're talking about a job where you can slap your headphones on while you work, then Jason Rox is exactly right. In a slightly artificial environment, such as school, you might want to consider the environment you're going to be tested in.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook