Students weigh in on how music affects studying

Some studies have shown that listening to music can help improve the learning experience by reducing stress, boosting moods, increasing memory and lengthening attention span. Music helps young children develop their learning and speech patterns by using rhythm and repetition (the ABCs, for example). For some people, music can continue to benefit their learning experience later in life.

Marianna Norseth, a Spanish professor at Weber State University, said she believes music helps students study and greatly encourages listening to music in Spanish to assist in learning a foreign language.

“The background with the proper music helps your brain to achieve that learning experience,” she said. “Some people need rock, some people need soft music; you know, I like to listen to classical music for my studies, but I’ve heard students say that they study better when they have music that is stronger and more noisy, which I don’t understand, but everybody is different.”

Lindsey McFarland, a sophomore at WSU, has played the flute for eight years and takes several music classes, both through WSU and private lessons outside of the university. She said studying her music offers her a break from her regular studies and helps her keep her mental focus and reduce stress. She said she is not sure whether music helps her study other academic subjects, but she has noticed it has helped her learn other things.

Jake Abel, a freshman at WSU, said he used to study while listening to background music, but that he stopped because he found it distracting. He said that, when he is taking notes or doing something simple, he enjoys listening to music, but if he is studying for an exam, it distracts him. Abel grew up playing the guitar and found it helped a little bit with basic math.

“Adding 16th of a note and some other notes, like eighth of a note, together to match up helped me with fractions,” he said. “Studying gets boring, and I like listening to music, so I would want to study more if I could listen to it at the same time all the time.”

Abel said the type of music he usually listens to is electronic, also known as techno.

According to an article in Music Education Research, titled “The Predictive Relationship Between Achievement and Participation in Music and Achievement in Core Grade 12 Academic Subjects,” “results imply that music participation benefits students in ways that are directly or indirectly linked to higher academic achievement in general, and specifically in regard to mathematics and biology.”