Does Listening to Classical Music Improve Study Habits?

As midterms rapidly approach, it seems everyone has succumbed to a state of panic and stress, myself included. This week I had two midterm exams in classes for my major, and I found myself staying up extraordinarily late almost every single night trying to cram useless information into my tired head. Like most college students, I often found myself procrastinating and surfing the web. Suddenly, I came across a soundtrack to a movie I once loved as a kid (and still do) called Spirited Away. I listened to the soundtrack, and was enthralled by the harmonious melodies composed by the brilliant Joe Hisaishi. You can listen to my favorite piece by him here, (also from the movie Spirited Away). As if like magic, I suddenly found myself concentrating even harder than before, and focusing and comprehending what I was actually doing. I wondered, does classical music have an affect on study habits?


According to USC News, it can. The article mentions several experiments on the topic that were conducted recently, that say classical music has a direct influence on a number of things. In addition to improving focus and attention, classical music can also have benefits on things such as how you sleep at night, your immunity to diseases and as a stress reducer. At a university in France, researches came to the conclusion that students who listened to classical music while attending a lecture did better on a follow-up quiz than students who did not listen to classical music during the lecture. The researches added that the classical music put students in a different state of mind, helping them focus better on the lecture material.

As I researched this topic more, I came across a name that researchers gave to this exact topic of study. Appropriately titled “The Mozart Effect,” this article from goes more in depth of the basis for it, and the studies that were involved to reach the conclusion. The article describes how music, specifically of the classical variant, can make you smarter. It lists various benefits of the Mozart Effect, including improvements in test scores, developments in creativity and changes in how the brain gathers information in a more productive way.

The article describes how a scientist named Dr. Georgi Lozanov used baroque music to teach foreign languages in a more efficient way, in that information would be better retained. The study points out that listening to baroque music while learning a foreign language could be completely comprehended in a span of 30 days at a rate of 85%-100% effectiveness, as opposed to how long it usually takes to completely learn a foreign language— two years. The article makes one final important point, noting the correlation between a relaxed body and classical music. When you hear the tempo of a classical piece, and the steady rhythm of the beat, your heart reacts and matches the pulse to the beat of the music, calming you. As your heart rate matches the beat of the music, it relaxes you immensely, therefore allowing you to concentrate better.

I think all of the studies that were performed are very interesting, and I would like to read more about each individual study conducted to learn about the specificities of it. For example, were the studies mostly a randomized control test? Or was there some element of blind/double-blind too? From the articles I read, none of them mention any confounding variables either, so I’m wondering if a third variable could also play a role in determining if classical music does help with studying or not. I pondered a few confounding variables myself, and think the environment,  studying habits and level of education could also affect how a person studies. points out in an article that while most research done on this topic has resulted in the conclusion that classical music improves study habits, there have been many cases in which the participants of the experiment had an opposite effect on them, and they performed worse in an exam. This article also does mention confounding variables, for example how things like the volume or genre of the music could also affect how one studies.

The next time you have to study for a big exam, listen to some Mozart. You never know, it could end up helping you.

2 thoughts on “Does Listening to Classical Music Improve Study Habits?

  1. Jessica Heckler

    Normally I like to study in complete silence, but being in college and living with a roommate, I have found that it is extremely hard to find a place that is completely silent. Even the quiet places in the library are not always completely silent, where you can hear people pounding on the keyboard or sniffling during cold season. I have started putting on my ear phones with the sound of waves on in the background to cancel out any annoying sounds without distracting myself with lyrics or music that I love. This also relaxes me and helps me focus on what I need to get done rather than stressing about every assignment that is written in my calendar.
    I never even thought of classical music and like the idea of listening to it while studying! However, I feel like this is still something that I would focus on and it would take away some of my attention from actually studying. Humans, although people believe differently, can not multitask so I feel like although this classical music might be relaxing, it probably is still best to study in silence because we can not focus on two things at once.

  2. Margaret Eppinger

    This is pretty unfortunate news for me, since I’m not a big fan of classical music. I personally prefer music with lyrics and loud instruments, which is probably pretty distracting for studying. However, I think movie scores could be a good compromise! It seems pretty clear from the studies you’ve researched that there are definitely some benefits to listening to classical music over other genres. I wonder, however, what the differences are between other genres of music. Besides classical, do any other genres reign supreme in helping students study? I found an article that doesn’t specifically talk about genres (I had trouble finding any articles that didn’t have to do with classical music), but it does list other aspects to look for in effective studying music. You can read the article here: One suggestion I found interesting was to actually listen to music you don’t care about so as to avoid getting distracted.

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