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What are the pros and cons to listening to music while studying?

Each unique personality has a different perception on the distraction music can be.  |  Photo Illustration by Caitlin Gaines / THE CHIMES


A dichotomy that remains as old as time: what environment proves most conducive to a thorough study session? Many studies have concluded that music does indeed distract from tasks that involve reading and the intake of information, especially if that music pertains to the lyrical variety. But on the other hand, some studies have said that it enhances the study experience seeing as music clears out one’s surroundings and can therefore help people focus on that math problem before them. Students have definite opinions on this—here is what some of them had to say:


Junior business administration major Belen Lopez had positive feedback on listening to music while studying.

“I love listening to music while I study, because it prevents people from talking to me and blocks out any excessive ambient noise. It helps me stay focused if the atmosphere is too busy or distracting,” Lopez said.

Lopez’s sentiment appears to be one that junior design major Ludo Krabbendam relates to quite similarly.

“I find music helps block out the random noises around me. Also, it seems to give something consistent to focus on while I focus on homework,” Krabbendam said.


But some students expressed a slight nuance to their hypothesis. Sophomore communication studies major Bryndley Stephenson sheds some light on this.

“I like to listen to country while I’m studying, however, sometimes it can be very distracting. So if I have a harder or more intense assignment, I listen to movie soundtracks,” Stephenson said.

Sophomore engineering major Spencer Thompson understands the feelings of distraction within normal day-to-day music with a lyrical aspect.

“I typically listen to film and TV scores—music without lyrics. If I listen to music with lyrics, I tend to focus on the words and not my homework,” Thompson said.

Most studies specifically highlighted this trend as the main problem. Having lyrics playing over one’s work becomes too much for the brain to process at times, resulting in work done slower or sometimes to a lesser degree.

Some students found that specific genres remain easier to listen to while going through their endless piles of work, including junior political science major Wyatt Redfern.

“During studying I often find myself listening to country music, or Bon Iver and music like that,” Redfern said.

Junior elementary education major Alisha Fodera favors more genres than the previous people but also realizes the importance of sticking to genres she knows will not inhibit her from studying to the best of her ability.


“My playlists are a wide range of music including slow songs, pop songs, worship and alternative. I tend to stay away from hardcore and rap music as those are louder and more distracting,” Fodera said.

Lastly, there is the viewpoint where any kind of music really proves to be too much for any productive work environment. Junior chemistry major Ryan Reynolds employs this perspective.

“I don’t usually listen to music while doing homework. I find it too distracting, especially lyrical music if I’m reading or writing something,” Reynolds said.

Whether there have been thousands of studies or not, students seem to have their own developed opinion on this subject. Different genres and ideals obviously work for different people, but the prospect of learning about how people’s perceptions and brains work never fails to interest.


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