Can music help you concentrate? Listening to music has always been associated with moments of rest, relaxation or leisure. In short, nothing about work, study and productivity.
However, have you ever entered a university study room? How many people have you noticed with headphones, listening to music while studying?
Surely many, especially in recent times, where a simple smartphone is enough to listen to your favourite songs. In fact, it is now a widely used practice, both for concentrating and for memorizing.
So, the question we will ask ourselves today is: is music really effective in increasing study efficiency and productivity?
Many university scholars around the world have tried to answer this question.
In this article, we are going to discover what science says, analyze the various results obtained and see if listening to music really helps you focus.
Is it true that music helps you concentrate? What science says
Can you concentrate while listening to music?
Is it better to study in silence or with music? According to a study conducted by S. Hallam in 2002 in a primary school, music has positive effects on concentration. The skills examined were above all those of calculation and memorization, in children between 10 and 12 years of age.
During the trial, those who performed problems by listening to loud and “aggressive” music had a marked decline in performance. However, the ones who listened to relaxing music performed better and faster. Of course, the results of both study groups were compared with another who studied in silence.
Basically, students perform better if they listen to mostly relaxing music while studying.
What kind of music helps you focus?
According to other research conducted by the universities of London and Birmingham, music also has beneficial effects on performance. Specifically, there are types of music suitable for each type of discipline.
The recommended music for mathematics is classical: Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner etc.
In linguistic subjects, on the other hand, greater efficiency in listening to rock and pop music was highlighted.
However, almost all disciplines seem to have one thing in common: a regular and medium-slow pace instead of fast.
How to boost concentration by listening to music: criteria to follow
According to other scholars, in order to effectively assist the study, it is very important to follow precise criteria in listening to music. Regardless of your favourite genre.
First of all, as mentioned earlier, volume is a very important variable.
Music kept at high volume is mostly used to distract you, to unplug. Listening to loud music is not recommended for demanding tasks. At a medium-low level, however, it stimulates abstract thinking, verbal reasoning skills and more.
So if you want to listen to a hard rock or heavy metal song at full blast, don’t do it when you need concentration.
The recommended pace is around 60 beats per minute. According to a study conducted in Canada, in fact, listening to rhythmic music leads to an increase in the IQ measurement score.
This is due to the relaxing and benevolent effect on mood, which in turn guarantees greater mental energy and reduction of stress.
In addition, listening to white noise is highly recommended, that is, a sound with constant amplitude, and with no periodicity.
For example, the sounds of nature, such as that of a mountain stream, are very effective for concentration. These are also used a lot in meditation practices.
Contrasting effects depending on the type of learning and personality
Listening to music as a supplement for concentration also depends on the type of learning. Simply put, it doesn’t help all stages of study, and not all people.
So, as far as verbal reasoning is concerned, music plays a supporting role. Conversely, in the abstract it tends more to contrast the fluidity of cognitive processes.
To sum up, when you have to understand a concept, or carry out practical tests, it is better to do it in silence. When you read, repeat, or perform sequential actions, you can safely put on headphones and listen to your favorite songs.
Furthermore, it has also been highlighted that an introverted personality will have much more difficulty absorbing information with music. Nonetheless, it turns out to be more effective for extroverts, helping them perform better.
How to boost your level of concentration while listening to music
As we have seen, the results of scientific research have shown some unanimous results, others conflicting.
First, it seems that music at a steady pace and not too fast is much more recommended. Classical music, for example, might be for you.
Furthermore, it is preferable to listen to songs without lyrics. Otherwise, the brain unconsciously uses part of the attention to understand the words.
However, there may be some exceptions: you can also add some songs with lyrics to your playlist if you really like them.
In fact, listening to your favourite songs contributes to stress reduction. The latter lowers the attention with which we make daily decisions, increasing the probability of error.
Therefore, prepare several balanced playlists in advance, so that you don’t have to interrupt your study to choose songs. The maximum duration of the same should be calculated according to your study method.
For example, if you take a short break every 20 minutes, set up several playlists of around 20 minutes each.
So, how do you definitively answer the question posed in the introduction of this article? Does listening to your favourite song help you focus and improve your performance?
The effectiveness of music on concentration depends on many factors: volume, rhythm, the study phase, your personality.
There are some unanimous conclusions, others less so. Therefore, some parameters should be followed, such as constant rhythm or low volume, while others you can customize them.
However, each of us has a different way of acquiring new knowledge or skills. In addition, for some a certain genre may be effective, for others a completely different one. Or, for example, you may find any kind of damage to your concentration.
To conclude, you too can increase your concentration and productivity by listening to music, just take some small precautions. Nonetheless, remember that it must only be a tool to aid concentration, not a determining factor for it.