I listen to music when I do homework, as do many other students. I like to have something always playing, no matter what I am doing. For example, if I work out, I play upbeat music, whether it’s pop or rap; and I tend to play acoustic music when I study or do work. Realizing how many people follow this trend, it got me wondering if playing music actually improves my academic performance and ability to focus. Here’s what I found:
An experiment from Georgia State University went into depth into this subject, more specifically the music type and its emotional effect for an added bonus of my original question. The report is written by Marjorie Freggens of GSU, and was directed under David Washburn, Ph.D. of GSU’s Department of Psychology.
Participants: 38 Georgia State undergraduate students
Experiment: To test their performance, the participants were put through a series of training tests on Dell laptops. The tests had the letter X on the screen that were colored as blue, red, yellow, or green. The participants were to press (as fast and accurately to the best of their ability) the right arrow key if the letters were yellow or red, as the left arrow key was used to indicate confirmation for green or blue letters. During the tests, four different kinds of music (happy, sad, tender, fear) played to check if that had any affect.
Interestingly enough, the results indicate significant relationships between music and performance. The ANOVA (analysis of variance) table showed a p-value of .043 for the difference between kind of music, meaning that it was statistically significant (p < .05 or 5%). More specifically, the results show the most efficient and accurate response time for happy music, as other types of music failed to find a statistical relationship (Tender music had a p-value of .059). While most studies focus on whether or not music improves performance abilities, this study was particularly striking to me because the type of music was considered to see if that had an impact as well. Happy music appeared to be the kind of music to enhance the participants’ performance on the color X test.
More research found more insightful results on the matter. According to this report of an experiment, we can see the affects of music on adults and kids. This report was written by professors University of Toronto, Canada and Nagasaki Junshin Catholic University in Japan. The study measured mood/arousal and performance with music. The experiment consisted of 48 Canadian undergraduates that were tested in a sound booth. They listened to music (Mozart and Albinoni) for 10 minutes, then proceeded to do a 2-minute test, where they answered yes or no based on looking at a monitor and determining specifics of what was shown on the monitor. An additional test done was a letter/number sequence, which got more difficult to answer accurately as it went on. They were to recall the sequence in a certain order after seeing the sequence (one second/letter or number).
Results from the first set indicated statistically significant results, as listening to the music made an impact of mood with a p-value of .033. The second set of test results showed mood (p=.043) and arousal (p=.004). The next analysis showed the actual performance of participants, which indicates a statistical relationship between the test scores and listening to music (p=.012). Overall, these tests tell us that listening to music significantly helped with cognitive performance, but mood and arousal had different effects.
The next experiment conducted by the same team from the previous study was done with young Japanese children to test creativity and performance in kids.
Participants: 39 5-year old Japanese kindergarten students
Experiment: The baseline session consisted of the students drawing a picture, then drawing an additional picture after listening to music. Out of four groups of the kids, 2 listened to Mozart and Ailbinoni, while another heard similar child-friendly tunes and the last group sang child-friendly tunes before drawing. After the musical experiences, the children were randomly assigned to draw a second picture, and the pictures (both baseline and after musical experience) were rated by randomly selected adults that were to rate creativity and proficiency.
The results offer an significant findings, as they found the creativity and proficiency difference from the baseline to listening to music was statistically significant (p=.004) and singing familiar songs gave a p-value of .001. However, there was no clear link between the classical music (Mozart, etc) in terms of the cognitive improvement. Overall, the addition of listening to music improved the quality of the children’s pictures.
At first I just wondered if listening to music actually beneficially impacted how someone works or studies or not, but these studies also showed certain types of music and their impacts. Looking at these studies have shown that upbeat, positive music tends to enhance the cognitive functionality in people. I believe it, because if I can get a certain type of music like that, I get in the groove and get a lot of concentration and work done efficiently. So, next time you want to study or get some homework in, try putting some upbeat music in the background that won’t distract you. Maybe that will get you generating more insightful work.
If you want some helpful study music, this is my favorite to play. It starts off slow, but progresses to upbeat and is positive that really gets me in study-mode.