Is it better to Study With Music or Without?

Is it better to Study With Music or Without?

Lately I have been thinking about what makes good and bad study habits as I am starting to have more and more exams as the weeks go on. Being in college, and having a roommate, I have realized that two different people can have different study habits. For example, the main one that becomes an issue for me and my roommate is that I like to study and do homework with music playing in the background, and she likes quiet. This got me to thinking if one way was better or more efficient than another.


There are certain times that listening to music while studying is efficient, and times when it is less efficient. Specifically, before studying for an exam or doing homework studies have shown that listening to music allows the student to keep their attention more on the task at hand and for a longer period of time. Listening to music before studying can also help your memorization skills. However, when it comes to the actual memorizing, and not before, listening to music my hinder the student’s ability to remember the information. This is especially true if the music they are listening to has lyrics. This is due to the fact that the music and the task at hand are speaking the same language and the student may get confused as to which one they are supposed to remember. On the contrary, listening to music while doing a task that is in a different language, for example math problems, helps improves the student’s ability to perform accurately and stay focused.

Studies have shown that students thrive in their school work and studying when they are in a better mood. Researchers claim that music is one way student’s can get into that relaxed mood in order to studying most efficiently. Of course, the type of music a student’s listens to while doing work as some effect on the student’s results or ability to retain the knowledge. Researchers suggest that the best music to listen to while studying are ones without lyrics, especially classical music, because the lyrics heard can confuse the student with the information they are trying to learn. However, no one really listens to music without lyrics anymore, so researchers also suggest music that is calming but also has an upbeat tempo so the student doesn’t fall asleep. They suggest not listening to music that it too upbeat because that can just end up being a distraction. The music should not be too loud or too soft, because that can result in falling asleep or a lack of focus.
Overall, listening to music while studying is just dependent on the person as to whether it will help or hinder their performance in school. Personally, I love to listen to music while I study or do work. I tend to listen to songs that I know really well so I can just mindlessly listen to them in the background, while my focus is primarily on my schoolwork.

Elana Goodwin on January 31, 2015. “Do Or Don’t: Studying While Listening To Music.” Uloop. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.

6 thoughts on “Is it better to Study With Music or Without?

  1. Bernarda Jarrin Alvear

    Your post was very interesting to me since I also have a similar situation with my roommate. She prefers not to listen to music while doing homework or studying while I do. I believe that the point of listening to music while doing any of this tasks is to relax. The style of music heard depends on the preference of each person and on what type of sound waves calms and soothes them. A friend this year told me about an experiment they made him perform. He said that his group had different types of songs played while measuring his brain waves. His group concluded that he achieved a relaxation state when hearing classical music.
    Here is a link about how sound frequencies may change your brain waves.

  2. Mark Paterra

    I have been met with the same dilemma. I can not seem to study in the complete silence but also music with lyrics seem to distract me. I have found hip hop instrumentals to be a happy medium. One of my favorite things to listen to while studying is J Dilla’s Donuts which is a completely instrumental album that allows me to focus on what I’m studying while also filling the silence.

  3. Thomas Tatem Moore

    This article is one I found very interesting. I am like your roommate, and prefer to study and get schoolwork done while it is quiet, and no music in the background. I have seen multiple articles that state the benefits of listening to classical music while studying, but anything that produces noise is a distraction to me while working. I can get it done, but it severely prolongs the time in which it takes me to complete what I am doing. I feel it is a personal preference from person to person, it depends on who you are.

  4. Lauren Messing

    I find it very interesting how some people can listen to music and do homework and some people cannot. I am one of those people who cannot. I am very easily distracted, therefore, listening to music would only lead to me stopping my homework and singing along (even though I am horribly tone deaf). Interestingly enough, I enjoy having music in the background when I do almost anything else. I feel it is a distractor rather than a motivator, as much as I wish I could listen to music while I study. All of the evidence in your blog that supports the hypothesis that music is beneficial to learning makes total sense. It is so interesting how it works for some and does not for others. I found it very interesting how you said that classical music is best to listen to when studying, so I found an article that explains the benefits of listening to classical music while cramming for finals! Hope you enjoy!

  5. dff5115

    As i read this post i am currently listening to music so i can relate to this post. I agree with you in saying that music without lyrics are better. I feel that this has to do with like you said being distracted and not focusing. Sometimes like now when i am writing i find that listening to music helps my ideas flow. That being said i definitely have to make sure i go back and proof read because i often make mistakes doing this. I think the benefits of music really depend on what you are doing for example writing compared to memorizing terms for a class. When you have to be able to retain a lot of information i feel that listening to music with lyrics is not the best idea because as you said you can get confused on what you are suppose to be remembering.

  6. Taras Guanowsky

    I have also seen many different studying practices here at Penn State. Personally, all music distracts me from my work so I prefer quiet. Interestingly enough, most studies that I see on this topic are similar to yours in that they recommend music without lyrics like classical music. The type of music makes no difference to me, however. I attribute this to my love for classical music. Because I am a cellist, all the sounds of an orchestra distract me just as much as lyrics might. Based on my own experience, I suspect that the attention level of the student is what impacts their focus on their work.

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