Those of us who listen to music when doing other tasks may not necessarily be doing any favors for ourselves. While that might seem like an initial shock, evidence is turning up that those who have to study for a test or other purpose may be getting too distracted in absorbing information. But the good news is that nothing is overly definitive, despite basic tests showing some concerns over the music-studying correlation.
In that regard, should we really be listening to music when working on something important or while studying? Outside of general studies, we’re starting to discover that not everybody can multitask, which might be disconcerting to those who can’t live without music in their lives.
Are Studies on Music Distractions Accurate?
The New Jersey Institute of Technology did an extensive study on how music affects the brain while doing an important work task. In their tests, they connected it to someone writing and how it affected their finger touch on a keyboard while music played in the background. It turned out that hand positions changed on the keyboard as a result of listening to music and slowed down their typing to a point of reduced productivity.
These studies also determined those who studied for tests with music playing ended up getting lower scores than if they played no music at all. It’s a result that could easily be argued considering the small sample of people studied. Others say it’s really going to be up to the individual based on how inspired music makes someone feel.
The University of Phoenix mentions another study done at the University of Wales that showed how silence while studying made test scores go up. They particularly point to music with lyrics being one of the worst offenders in distracting people while trying to read.
If that’s the case with everybody, what can anyone do to get a music fix if they need a stimulus to stay awake while studying?
Instrumental Music Benefits
Those who get too distracted by music with lyrics are using classical music to help them have some kind of music stimulus without having a mind meltdown. While it doesn’t necessarily prove the somewhat bogus claims of the Mozart Effect, classical music has the power to move you if you play something relaxing or even rousing. With the broad sense of what constitutes classical music, that can translate to film soundtracks or any kind of instrumental music with no singing.
It’s worth trying if music is the only thing getting you motivated to sit down and get to work or study. Instrumental music lets you draw out your own emotions that play into the inspiration behind why we do things. Then again, silence may be the music to the ears of those who can’t handle multitasking. The mystery to that is whether the voice we hear in our head while reading is melodious enough where it becomes its own form of music.