Should you listen to music while studying or not? Is it helpful or a distraction? In this article, we will unpack some common myths and truths regarding the effects of listening to music while studying.

Your study space

Research has shown that music can help lift your mood and set up a relaxing study space. It can take off stress and get you in a good mood for studying. This is important as being distracted can take your attention away from the work at hand and stagger your productivity.

Music vs. Productivity

Of course, you are more productive when you are in a good mood and are feeling motivated to do the work you need to do. But does music really help with productivity?

To be honest, it depends on the music, and on you. If the music is not distracting to you and lets you focus on your work, then it’s all good. However, if listening to music is not allowing you to focus on your work and you find yourself humming or singing along (even in your head!), then it’s probably best to change the music or switch it off altogether.

A general rule of thumb is that music should be ‘white noise’, meaning it shouldn’t distract you, but instead create a distraction-free environment for your learning.

Music vs. Motivation

One of the positive effects of music during your study sessions is that it can boost your motivation to study. As mentioned before, listening to music can calm you and get you in the mood for learning. This is critical for motivation.

The ‘right’ type of music?

You may have heard of the ‘Mozart Effect’ before, or the claim that listening to classical music makes you smarter. This is false.

The original study that found that listening to Mozart increased the IQ test scores of a group of students actually only tested 36 students, and concluded that the so-called, ‘Mozart Effect’ only lasted for about 15 minutes. Later studies also found that other classical music works just as well as Mozart. In fact, an experiment conducted in 2006 found that kids who listened to pop music before a test performed better than the kids who listened to Mozart.

The core idea that these studies have confirmed, though, is that music helps to wake up your brain, and, in the 2006 study in particular, pop music had shown to increase the energy of the students, thus getting them higher scores on the tests.

The bottom line

So what’s the conclusion? Well, it really depends on you! Whatever gets you in the groove for learning, whatever music helps you study, if it keeps you motivated and doesn’t distract you, that’s ideal! But, if you are honestly finding it difficult to concentrate on the work at hand, it is probably best to not listen to music while studying.


Foundation Education: Does Music Help Study?

BBC: Can Mozart Boost Brainpower?

Brain Facts: Does listening to classical music make you smarter?