Does Music Help Performance?

As one of many students at Penn State, I can honestly say there is rarely a time of day where I am not listening to music. Whether it’s Rihanna, Drake, or any other artist making hits, I’m sure you all love listening to music too.  Maybe you even listen while trying to study for an exam to make you happy, and to forget about your stress. Maybe you listen to music to get you pumped up before a big game.  Personally, music makes me feel free, and I am constantly singing at all times of the day.  Before athletic games I would always blast music through my headphones, visualizing myself making great plays in the game I was about to play. Every time I would walk into the weight room, even if I was feeling tired, if I heard music, a new switch turned on.  I believe that music helps me perform better on the field, but I have always wondered if this is actually proven to be true, and if so why is this the case?


In many cases, research has shown that listening to music before a competition has a positive impact on focus and cognition, due to the fact that it increases arousal and motivation.  This research also suggests that music creates an exertion for physical activity, even acting as a stimulus.  A recent experiment conducted by Eliakim attempts to prove that music enhances athletic performance.  In this study, 24 athletes, 12 male and 12 female, partook in two different exercise sessions in a week, one containing music, and the other without music.  The null hypothesis being tested in this case was that music would have no effect on athletic performance and the alternative hypothesis states that music does indeed play a role in enhancing athletic performance.  The participants were required to pedal on a bike for 30 seconds, testing anaerobic power.  It was found that peak performance for those who warmed up with music was higher than those who hadn’t, and it was also found that these participants were believed to work harder. Therefore, it can be believed that music increases motivation, which may increase work efficiency.


Another study was conducted with 30 participants ranging from ages 18 to 63. Fast and slow music were both played as participants ran on the treadmill for a duration of ten minutes.  A direct correlation was shown between the tempo of the music and the speed of the treadmill, concluding that the up-tempo music motivated the participants to run faster.  Results also prove that the groups with the up-tempo music had a 5bpm higher heart rate.

Do these studies mean that listening to music will 100% make you perform better? Not at all, but there is certainly a correlation between listening to music and work ethic and motivation. Also, it depends on the type of music and type of person as well. Some may like to listen to soothing music before competition to relax their nerves, and other may like to blast hip hop and rap to get them fueled up.  At the end of the day, we all have our specific preferences, but ultimately, music is a great way to enhance motivation, which for some of us may have a direct impact to athletic performance.

2 thoughts on “Does Music Help Performance?

  1. Cole Donald Rogers

    While playing football in high school I was one of a small group of kids that did not listen to music before games or practices. I felt as though the need to be pumped up should just come from yourself not from an outside source. Although we see most athletes listening to music while warming up for their events I had no clue that it was actually going to positively effect their performance. Listening to music to me is a distraction more than a benefit and I see this in many cases outside of working out or sporting events. I tend to listen to music more to relax or have a good time rather than psych me up. Personally I think of music more as a way to set my mood and here is a article that gives a description of how music effects the way that we feel:
    How Music Affects Our Moods

  2. Ryan Eric Freeman

    In the studying aspect of thinks i believe it is more of a distraction rather than a learning tool. There are multiple scenarios that can be detracting caused by playing music while studying. On the other side , I really do enjoy recreation sports while listening to music. It puts you in a state of mind where you want to be in and it allows you to block out your surroundings. Do you believe that listening to music is more beneficial when studying or does it have more of a negative effect? and for sports?

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