Music and You
Listening to music is a loved activity by students, especially when studying and doing homework. In “Do you listen to music while studying? A portrait of how people use music to optimize their cognitive performance.” Franziska Goltz and Makiko Sadakata say that “access to music at any time and place becomes more and more common.” We can play music by a couple clicks onto a smartphone and a pair of headphones; it’s that easy. Being able to listen to music so easily gives us the freedom to listen to it while doing work, eating, cleaning, and many other activities. The most interesting time to listen is while doing homework/studying. The easy access to music allows students to listen to music while studying, helping them perform better and become more efficient.
Music has lived with people since they were born. When thinking of music, our minds go to a song that comes on the radio, or going to watch a symphony perform. As a society, we have had music around for a long time, using it as a source of entertainment. In The Role of Music in Everyday Life: Current Directions in the Social Psychology of Music, Peter J. Rentfrow claims, “Music is a crucial element of everyday life. People spend hours listening to it and billions of dollars buying it.” Music has a major influence on people’s daily lives, but how deep into the music world have people really gotten to explore.
Mainstream music, the definition of music for almost everyone in the world. Instruments combine in harmony to create a beautiful tune, adding in the voice that creates the lyrics to a song. We scream to music, cry to music, laugh to music. We can do anything imaginable and have a song simply playing in the background. Musicians will create songs that have undertones of a specific mood or two, such as happiness or sadness. This mood transmits to the listener, causing them to inherit that mood. A “happy” song is going to be more upbeat, with playful tunes and lyrics, while a “sad” song is more somber and slow with lyrics that we may be able to relate to. Music preferences have a pattern of who listens to what, concluding in creativity, imagination and openness are traits of those who listen to sophisticated music, traits including impulsivity and athletic ability possess listeners of heavy metal and punk, and finally traits of high extraversion, the value of social recognition and appreciation of one’s physical appearance is found in those who listen to contemporary music. The mood of a person as well as their work ethic can change based on if they like the music or hate it, even if a song is meant to set a certain mood.
As a whole, music is many different things combined into one word. Music is a multitude of activities, written scores and objects. Music is usually treated as an object, being moved through time and morphed to fit out current times. Take Beethoven, who’s pieces are performed all of the time, even after being written so many years ago. Something like Bach’s B Minor Mass, which’s original purpose was for religious use but now is performed in a more secular setting. The amalgamation of fundamental building blocks that most pieces use now consists of repeated notes. Its system of tonality creates the space for music to be an object. There is also the act of buying and selling music, which has been occurring for many centuries. Translating into current times, publishers treat music pieces like such objects when they claim them, gaining profit when others want to use the piece for whatever their reason may be. In What is Sociological about Music?, William Roy and Timothy Dowd claim that “music’s object-ness, its embeddedness in institutions, its pervasiveness in everyday life, its popularity as an avocation, and its affirmation in a discourse of transcendent sanctification.” Music was pulled into this object state, and it created this commodity that people are drawn to.
Treating music as an object with very fixed qualities puts it into a some sort of set box, but music is also a verb. The act of “making” or “performing” music, doesn’t make it completely an object but an activity. Even the term “musicking” was coined by musicologist Christopher Small because of his belief. It seems clear that the activity aspect of music is the performance part. I’m sure most people have gotten up on a stage to say a speech or get an award. Many people get up on a stage to perform music for a living or for fun. People who live to perform classical or orchestral music know that many things must come together to put on a performance. The expectations set, dynamics, conductor competency and legitimacy merge together, creating a wonderful show for the audience. Jazz music creates a completely different way of “musicking,” with the development of improvisational skills. This brings another level of musicality, the cognitive skills needed to understand relationships between chords and individual notes becoming another thing to master. The mastery that the performers have to possess of improvisation creates a world of support, connections, experience and opportunities. The process of musicking can approach the intertwining of music and interaction, including people who were only supported and didn’t have actual contribution to the making of music itself. Music is all around us, and we may even be a part of the collaboration of making music, even if we aren’t fully aware.
The possibility of music being analogous to language is also present. Song lyrics are a part of lots of music creations, and researching into the meaning of these lyrics shows a lot. The structure of music has the most meaning behind it, just as elements of language have meaning. Using syntax to analyze a piece of writing can be equivalent to having music parsed into its own formal features. It has even been argued that specific music projects can have the same tension as a literacy plot, each showing an overarching storyline in their own way. Music has a structure that creates a story for the listener, and it usually follows a specific storyline (ex. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, end) just like a piece of literature would.
From birth, a notation of music is put into our heads. The major fact is that there is so much more complexity to music than an average lister might think. It can be anything we want it to be, a gust of wind, a waterfall, the rattle of a baby toy. Something beautifully put by William Roy and Timothy Dowd in What is Sociological about Music?, “The object of musical notation that lies at the heart of classical music is made alive by the musicking that surrounds it.” The creation, performance, collaboration and object-ness all circle around the one word we all know as music.
It’s no secret that music on smartphones has become more popular over the years. As the iPhone has grown, as well as other Apple products and other companies, the use of phones has been essential. It’s no wonder that by clicking a few buttons we can play our favorite albums. Spotify is a major company that houses over 380 million active users every month. The app is free with ads, and the creation of our own playlists with our favorite tunes is accessible. This creates the easiest access to music for anyone and everyone. We can plug some headphones in and even use wireless bluetooth earbuds to listen to our music on the go! No matter where we are or what we’re doing, music is accessible through a smartphone. This creates an atmosphere for students to complete their homework or study with music playing in the background. Whether this is good or bad on the students attention span and performance depends on lots of factors, but the better side of results has prevailed.
The brain of an individual is going to have a lot of effects on whether listening to music increases working performance. A big thing that comes into play is something called working memory capacity (WMC). Having a much higher WMC will let our brains multitask better, leaving room for the music to sit in our brains while also engaging with our work. This does not work as well for individuals with a low WMC. Personality will also change how music will affect our performances. If an extroverted individual listens to pop music, it would not affect her when studying or doing homework, so if that is her favorite genre she is all set. Introverted people tend to like the quiet much more, but some soft classical music could help him. Someone more music oriented is going to enjoy their favorite genre when working much more than someone who isn’t. He may become more interested in the music than the work itself, but this has only been tested once, showing that it may not be true in all cases. Music that engages in lyrics and a fast tempo is not going to be the best choice for someone trying to focus on writing a paper. The music that we will get the best performance results with is softer instrumental classical music, as it has the least distracting qualities. The soft music will stimulate a part of our brains that can mold around what we are thinking about, creating a pleasing atmosphere for us. Overall, the individual and an individual’s preferences are going to matter a lot when it comes to the positive effects of playing music when working, but there is always something for everyone.
Having music on in the background when performing a critical thinking or memory assignment is going to positively affect an individual’s performance, especially if he has figured out the correct music for himself. There is a bump here for the fact that someone who has been listening to music when studying for a long time will see better results in their performance. Someone less experienced with this may not have the same results as quickly, but with some time they will be able to receive those positive improvements. If an individual is trying to memorize vocabulary terms, learn a new language, or even complete spatial and logical reasoning tasks, he will have positive effects from listening to music. The modulation of the prefrontal cortex activity in the brain can be prominent evidence that background music has positive effects. The prefrontal cortex has shown reduced activity when an individual is learning when listening to music, therefore showing a reduced demand on the use of the prefrontal cortex. This portrays clear effects of playing music while doing homework and studying, and that it can make an individual more relaxed allowing more space for the individual to feel comfortable. Be sure to find the best music fitting to help study or these results will vary. Most individuals will see the best results when listening to background music that is instrumental, allowing their brain to accept the noise but not focus as much energy on it. Vocal music, or music with lyrics, especially songs that are very familiar, will cause the individuals brain to start focusing on those words instead of the ones on the paper.
If music was hard to get access to for the average person, many wouldn’t listen to it. Maybe it would be an occasional treat to have once in a while, especially if it always costs money. Nowadays there are a ton of platforms providing free music to its users, allowing people to listen to music on their phones whenever they want to! Having this huge cloud of music available lets students listen to music when they are studying or doing homework as well. Studies have shown that having background music when doing so does have positive effects on an individual’s performance and efficiency. Many factors come into play to make this feat possible, such as the individual’s personality type, working memory capacity, music preference, and more. This very easy access to music on the go allows individuals to listen when doing homework and studying, creating a better performance from them overall.
If you need silence when studying, head to a library or quiet space. Those who like to listen to music when studying, go wherever you can find. Music is something relaxing and even something that we can scream our lungs out to, and it’s not the most common tool used to help someone with studying or homework. Whether it is soft and classical, or hard rock, academic studies have shown that a high percentage of students believe that listening to their favorite music when studying is the most comfortable and helpful. Through the exploration of studies and the consensus of how music makes a person feel, listening to music when studying can have a very positive effect on an individual.
In “Silence is Golden: The Bad Effect of Music While Studying,” Saki Amano creates a survey that they provide to students asking them about their habits of listening to music when they study. The results clearly show that most people like to listen to music, and out of those people almost 100 percent of them clearly showing that most people like to listen to music, and out of those people almost 100 percent of them prefer music with lyrics. Saki makes a very bold claim saying that “The result implies that students listen to music not to concentrate but to make comfortable learning circumstance.” The students who took this survey answered truthfully to themselves, truly believing that listening to music helps them focus and study. Saki then states that “Studying with music leads multitasking, poor concentration on studying and poor ability to memorize information.” The results from the survey are in favor of a position approving individuals listening to music while studying, instead of a position disliking the idea of studying with music. None of the survey questions asked anything more specific than simple questions, the most lengthy asking if the student believes they concentrate more with or without music present. Making assumptions about the data and the subjects in our research will create false conclusions. The mixed tones of the authors’ claims display a deep amount of confusion.
Multitasking is a difficult pursuit but it is likely to be utilized by many students. Individuals who have a hard time concentrating on multiple tasks at once, let alone two, are smart enough to know themselves and their study habits. They are not going to listen to music when studying knowing that it is bad for them. Refined individuals who have been in school for years know their brain and what works best for them. When evaluating multitasking, Amano says that “One researcher found that the majority of students who engage in multitasking during the class get the lower GPA, and the risk that using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is likely to be higher than students who do only one task at once.” The information presented has absolutely nothing to do with the argument at all. In the classroom, multitasking is not just listening to music, it also involves being on our phones, doodling, watching a movie or tv show. The same goes for multitasking while studying and doing homework, listening to music being one raindrop under a huge umbrella. The conclusion made in this scenario would not impact the sole effects of listening to music and studying. The statement also mentions the risk of alcohol and drug use as a result of multitasking. Not only was the umbrella of multitasking big enough, but alcohol and drug use is far from that umbrella. The farthest we could get from listening to music and studying is shown in that statement. Alcohol and drug use is an important topic, and is sure to catch the eye of anyone reading about music and studying when it is not expected. Taking their focus from the real argument, it throws them off track. This abuse is related to the multitasking umbrella and a few of its raindrops, not directly to music and studying.
Listening to preferred music is going to be done more than listening to music that is not up an individual’s wheelhouse. Students in this generation prefer pop or rock music, both inhabiting lyrics. Amano claims “that music with lyrics causes the brain to focus all of its energy on blocking out the vocal stimuli from the song, preventing it from concentrating on the task.” Another form of multitasking, the lyrics taking an unconscious focus from the individual causing them to become less engaged with their task. In Music and memory: Effects of listening to music while studying in college students, a study was calculated showing results of reading an assigned text with classical music versus lyrical or pop music playing in the background and then answering comprehension questions.. In terms of mean scores, the pop music listeners scored 2 points higher than the classical music. This educated study was completed at a university, and has produced accurate results, showing that lyrical music does make a difference. As a final result from the study, Mensik and Dodge say that “studying for a test while listening to music may cause little to no detriment to comprehension.”
The argument against listening to music while studying shows compelling but wavering perspectives. Studies have clearly shown that the effects of this very much depend on the individual person. The average student is more likely to do just fine when it comes to studying and having their favorite music playing in the background. It creates a safer environment for them to feel more relaxed. An individual is sure to find her own ways of studying effectively for her own benefit, and she can listen to whatever she desires. While there may be some disadvantages to it, go ahead and study while listening to that rap song or even Mozart if that’s more comforting!
Amano, S. (2015). Silence is Golden: The Bad Effect of Music While Studying. Google Docs. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from https://docs.google.com/document/preview?hgd=1&id=1enacyMCl1cLTBiHJ86bL1_WWl9qyz_uwEJkJA1NOzTQ.
Goltz, F., & Sadakata, M. (2021, September 20). Do you listen to music while studying? A portrait of how people use music to optimize their cognitive performance. Acta Psychologica. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001691821001670?via%3Dihub.
Mensink, M. C., & Dodge, L. (2014, April 1). Music and memory: Effects of listening to music while studying in college students. MINDS@UW Home. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from https://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/77348.
Rentfrow, P. J. (2012, May 2). The role of music in everyday life: Current directions in the social psychology of Music. Wiley Online Library. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2012.00434.x?globalMessage=0.
Roy , W. G., & Dowd, T. J. (2010). What is sociological about music? Annual Reviews. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.soc.012809.102618.