Music CAN Help With Homework!

Dominique McNeil

Dominique McNeil, Writer

Homework: a hassle that nobody really enjoys. Music: a nice luxury to make homework feel like less of a hassle. But, is it? Most have heard that music can make it hard to concentrate during homework, but one study found that listening to music before hand can make doing homework a breeze.

The idea that music can help a student’s studies originates from “The Mozart Effect,” in which small children were subjected to Mozart to induce focus in academic activities. However, a meta-analysis was done on all the studies of the Mozart Effect and it was discovered that music by Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart did not improve IQ. Mozart merely induces “Enjoyment Arousal” lasting barely fifteen minutes. This effect simply gives a bump to spatial reasoning and short-term memory.

One teacher in Vancouver, Kelly K., conducted a study based on the Mozart Effect for her senior thesis in college. With 112 participants, she found that students score 90% on spatial reasoning tasks in comfortable silence. While exposed to classical music scored 83%, and 72% while listening to popular music with lyrics. Kelly K. reasoned that, “Your choice of music could affect your GPA by a whole letter grade! One of the reasons for this may be that, due to a person’s capacity for attention, lyrics inhibit ability to focus.”

However, music is not completely written off as a concentration inhibitor. Certain types of music, similar to those works of Mozart, can aid in concentration and short-term memory if listened to before a student sets to work on their school work. CNN Health Writer Elizabeth Landau wrote in an article on music and its affect on a student’s studies, “Other studies have found a ‘Schubert Effect’ for people who like the music of Franz Schubert and the ‘Stephen King Effect’ for people who like a narrated story by that author. The explanation for all of this could be that when you hear something you like, it heightens your arousal and mood, which improves performance.” Later in her article, she notes that this research suggests that classical music listened to before hand can provide a pep talk of sorts for a student, and that after they are “aroused,” they can perform quite well in silence.

So, when it comes to silence vs. sound, silence is always best.