Academic articles

How Music Can Help You Do Homework

Does Music Help With Homework?

The body of research concerning this topic is inclusive. The short answer to this question is a simple, “it varies”. But, what are the variables that affect this question? As it turns out, there are many influences that can impact the efficacy of playing music while doing homework. When music is played, how music is played, what kind of music is played, the learning style of the student, the subject being studied and the subsequent testing environment are all factors that influence the value of playing music while doing homework.

Before A Homework Session

Many studies have supported the idea that listening to music before a homework session may positively influence the learner. In some people, listening to music prior to a study session can enhance the listener's mood, boost energy, ease the symptoms of depression, increase concentration and mental acuity. For learners who experience these positives effects, listening to music before a homework session may yield more productive study habits.

During A Homework Session

Listening to music during a homework session is a highly subjective decision. Some learners thrive in environments that are quiet and free from distractions while others do well in less controlled surroundings. Knowing this, it is important for the learner to self-evaluate their ideal learning atmosphere. Next, one must consider what type of music is played while studying. It has been shown that instrumental music can have a neutral or even positive effect on learning while lyrical music can have a neutral or negative effect. This phenomenon is especially true when studying humanities subjects. It is thought that the lyrics can serve as a distraction and thus detract from the brain’s ability to process new information. Lastly, learners should take into consideration that students perform better on tests when they study in surroundings that are similar to that of the testing environment.

Making the Choice - Music or No Music?

  • Is a pre-study “jam session” in order? If your mood is low prior to a study session, try turning on your favorite tunes to boost your energy and motivation.
  • Take careful notice of your learning style. Do you require a quiet environment, or is one with some diversions ideal?
  • What subject is being studied? Lighter subjects may be well suited to studying with music while more complex homework may not.
  • Lyrics or instrumental? Only the learner can assess which style is best.
  • What is the testing environment going to be like? If the test site is a typical classroom setting with no music, you may be best served doing homework in the same environment.
  • Experiment with both styles of study and compare the results to objectively make the “music or no music” decision.

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