Picture this—it’s the frenzy of finals week. Stress and tension is brewing, especially at the library, home, or school. With such high stakes for good grades and success, people need something calming and soothing, even something to raise their spirits. They need music.
Throughout the years, especially on the topic of study and productivity, there has been an argument of whether or not music was an improvement to efficiency. I believe that music is in fact valuable, and gives those who enjoy it an advantage— as long as they keep in mind the factors that may cause it to be distracting, a common argument from the opposing side.
One key factor to sustain efficient studying is to listen to music that will not divert your full attention from your work. This means choosing themes that have no lyrics or songs in a language that you don’t understand. This makes it easier for your brain to focus as there is no need to process any actual words.
Along the lines of focus would be the factor of tempo and volume of music; instrumental music and soundtracks that are too upbeat and loud can be distracting and decrease work production. In fact, an article by Healthline about music and study noted how “certain types of music — including music with lyrics and instrumental music that is fast and loud — can make it harder to understand and absorb reading material.”
With all of these cons, surely music has one too many drawbacks to listen to while working right? Of course not, for specific types of music can increase motivation. A 2019 study by PNAS from 2019 confirms this, describing how “enjoying music reliably engages critical components of the reward system, including the nucleus accumbens (NAc), caudate, orbitofrontal cortex…the activity of the NAc most strongly correlates with ratings of music liking and wanting.”
Music also strengthens concentration and cerebral function. For example, classical music can improve focus as well as improve mood, making the atmosphere more calm and soothing. This boosts cognitive abilities that can help stimulate your brain. Music can increase focus as well as raise reasoning skills as well. Music such as video game soundtracks can help with focus and concentration as they are specifically designed to keep the player engaged and direct their attention to the gameplay.
Lastly, a positive aspect of listening to music is that it can reduce stress and lift your mood. In a 2021 study from the National Library of Medicine, ICU patients reported that they felt less pain and stress 30 minutes after listening to music. Overall, music can motivate you and give you a confident mindset.
While music affects different people in many distinct ways, it can be valuable if you find what works for you. Find music that is beneficial and enjoyable during your work, study, and down-time. Music provides a great advantage and strategy to a more efficient work and study.