The Study Blues
By Emi Yasuda
There’s nothing that makes homework more bearable than cranking up the volume on your favorite tune. But with the entire first semester ahead, it’s time to ask- isBeyoncé really helping you finish your math homework?
When working with repetitive tasks, it turns out that listening to music you likecan actually make the work go faster. In a 2014 study at the Wake Forest School of Medicine and the University of North Carolina Greensboro, researchers found that when listening to genres you enjoy, your brain is better able to connect your internal thoughts tothe task at hand. This primarily holds true for less immersive ventures, not ones that require significant amounts of creative thinking, such as essay writing. But if you’re simply finishing up chores or slogging away at a list of math problems, music can help to relieve the boredom and tension that usually slows these tasks down.
Music can also act as a form of escape in a noisy environment. In a distracting library or coffee shop, the chatter can often become too much to handle. Familiar music you enjoy is the best choice for focus. When you are listening to something for the first time, even if you don’t do it consciously, you will be inclined to listen close to see what comes next. With familiar tunes, you already know what to expect, and are thus able to focus more of your attention towards the task at hand.
Unfortunately, while music may boost your productivity in many situations, learning isn’t one of them. When it comes time to absorb and retain information, any form of distraction can seriously impair your ability to retain knowledge, even if your music is playing quietly. In a study conducted at the University of Windsor, participants had greater difficulty recalling information from a task conducted while they were listening to music, versus when they had no music playing. Your teachers were right when they said to take out your earphones during class!
So, the next time you have the study blues, turn up the blues and maybe it will make your morning go by just a bit faster!