Does Music Help or Hinder Studying?

Filed under Arts & Music, Big Picture, Featured, My Peeps

Should We Study to Music?

By Madeline Makusky


Madeline Makusky says yes to music while studying.

In my opinion, music helps students to study. I listen to music while I’m reading or writing. The music helps me to concentrate on what I’m doing rather than on the outside noises. My preference is to put on either rock or the more popular music. I have various playlists depending on what type of mood I’m in. When I have to write a short story, I would usually listen to more rock music, whereas, if I am doing math homework, I may listen to pop music. For more serious studying or working, I have a playlist of continuous music that is both vocals and just instrumental.

In a Crestwood Middle School (CMS) eighth grade class poll, 18 of 25 students said they listened to music while they work or study. There doesn’t seem to be any one particular genre of music among the class that stands out, since each person has a personal preference. Sixteen of 19 students in a seventh grade class said that they, too, listen to music while they work or study. The different genres of music they listed included R&B, pop, Christian, instrumental, and rap.

In school, students say that they would like to listen to music during their independent work to help them concentrate more. Appropriate opportunities might include while working on the computer or during a test. At these times, the music will help to eliminate classroom distractions. Students mentioned that during electives is another opportunity for students to listen to their music. It was mutually agreed that listening to music during instruction would not benefit their grades.

Most teachers at CMS already tap into the benefits of music in the classroom, but only at certain times and under certain circumstances. One language arts teacher says that she allows music as an incentive to students while they are on task with independent work. In gym, teachers play music while in the weight room or cardio room. Music is also used during practice sessions in the gym. The life skills teacher uses music to help keep students’ voices down, and provides a soothing atmosphere.

Artwork by 8th grader Kylie Enten, Crestwood Middle School, Frederick County.

Research, however, provides additional information to consider.  One study advises students to create a playlist beginning with instrumental music that stimulates the mind before studying. During study time, that playlist should consist of pleasant but monotonous sounds to block out distractions. Another study indicates that vocal music is distracting while instrumental music could actually help.  These researchers also found that students score higher on tests in a quiet room.  Similarly, researchers found that hip-hop music actually caused lower reading test scores.

Music can help in many ways in school or it may not help at all. Try it out for yourself and see what helps your grades and what doesn’t.  I believe most students would agree that music is an important part of their lives.

Eighth grader Madeline Makusky, Crestwood Middle School, Frederick County, enjoys playing multiple instruments in her school’s band, and dancing.

 Artwork by 6th grader, Penelope Henderson, Magothy River Middle School, Anne Arundel County.

Artwork by 6th grader, Penelope Henderson, Magothy River Middle School, Anne Arundel County.

By MY Say

MY-Say is the online 'zine of choice for Maryland middle school students. Written by middle school students for middle school students, this nonprofit venture is powered by SoMIRAC in partnership with the MLA and Maryland educators. Questions about how to become published on MY-Say? Check out the links on the very top of every page or send an email to [email protected].

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