What music do you find helps you be more effective when studying or doing homework?

Expert Answers
mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I study or do homework for various projects with which I'm involved, the music depends on what I'm trying to do.  If I'm brainstorming, I like loud, bluesy music which can trigger ideas for me.  Music such as  Etta James, Susan Tedeschi, Eric Clapton or even Teresa James help me "catch" ideas from my brain casting about or my feet moving in time.  If I'm trying to polish an essay or presentation, I like very soft background such as Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux or Eva Cassidy.  Somehow the music helps my mind find better words or keeps me focused when I want to quit.  Music is also the reward for me at the end of studying or preparing when I then want to play The Maverick's new CD, Phillip Phillips, Janis Joplin from my younger days or even compilations of blues classics.  One word of warning though--I have a hearing loss in one ear from my love of really loud music!

atyourservice | Student

I usually listen to kpop, also known as Korean pop. When a song is fast paced I tend to memorize a bit faster, I have no idea why as the opposite is what typically works for most of my friend. I also tend to listen to my favorite songs, because when I sing in my head in class I usually remember what I studied.

StephanieRR | Student

If I'm reading, I don't listen to any music. I've found that regardless of what type of music it is, I find myself periodically getting distracted by something going on in the music and end up having to re-read sentences, and in the end I don't really absorb anything.

When I am doing writing-based homework, however, music is key. I listen to up-tempo songs that make me feel energetic and like I want to move. It really motivates me to keep writing, and as I tend to try matching my actions to the beat, it feels like I finish faster than I normally would while still being efficient. It also keeps me awake, which is useful if I find myself pulling an all-nighter.

amysor | Student

Personally, the music that helps me study is usually very calm music. Music usually with little to no music. Especially classical music helps me finish homework quicker. I do not suggest music with lyrics because the lyrics distract you from doing homwork, and defeats the puropose. Music is really helpful when doing homwork, you can find various classical playlists on youtube from artists like Beethoven or Mozart.

sid-sarfraz | Student

When studying i listen to songs containing slow music like somethings that relaxes you, since studying can be challenging at times. 

malkaam | Student

I listen to different songs for different subjects, this helps me remember, during a test, what part i was studying during a particular song.  

melissa1106 | Student

I usually go on to Spotify and they have many playlists geared for quiet study and deep focus. Many of the songs on those playlists are instrumentals or soft songs that will not break your concentration. I like to have soft music playing in the background when I am studying.

taangerine | Student

When I study, I usually listen to classical music because it soothing and helps me focus. I also listen to songs that are in a different language because I can't sing along and that makes me stay on beat and be more efficient in getting work done. I usually try to beat the song. Usually, a K-pop song is ~3-4 minutes. I assign myself a good amount of problems to do before the song ends, so I can stay on schedule and finish my homework/given task early and sleep early. 

kevin0001 | Student

I usually listen to either K-Pop ( Korean Pop ) or any upbeat songs i find on the radio. It makes my surroundings seem more lively which also makes the work I'm doing more fun and interesting. Listening to it, I can concentrate and have a beat to doing my work. Even if i don't understand the lyrics, the catchy beat keeps me focused.

jess1999 | Student

For me I usually pick a kpop ( korean ) song. It's beat usually keeps me awake which allows me to continue and finish my homework. Sometimes when I get to distracted by the music I would usually just end up turning it off ( which is most of the time )

moustacio | Student

I mostly listen to ballads or acoustic songs - they are soothing enough for me to focus on what I'm studying. Playing them in the background really helps me to concentrate.

eli468 | Student

I have listened to a wide variety of music while studying and it used to always distract me. I came to find that classical music or most music that does not have any lyrics really helps me. I also learned that foreign languages are great! I discovered that I could easily study french while listening to Kpop (go figure) and from there whenever I study I listen to foreign music. I typically go for Korean, Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, and occasionally Thai music. Without my mind trying to focus on the words, because I am not fluent in these languages, I can enjoy my music while studying and doing homework. It works great! 

chrisyhsun | Student

For me, I find that listening to Korean or sometimes Chinese music helps me study. In particular, I enjoy listening to slower, ballad-like songs when I am reading and faster-paced music when I doing worksheet-type practice. The reason (I think) these genres of music work best for me is because they are not in my primary language, English. It is easier to divert my attention from Kpop or Cpop because I cannot as easily decipher the languages. Compared to that, when I listen to, say, Top 40 music in English, I find my mind wandering toward the lyrics. I don't particularly like listening to music without lyrics so I think that listening to music in other languages helps because I don't fall asleep from the lack of lyrics and actual human voices but I don't focus primarily on listening to lyrics.

crystaltu001 | Student

K-pop or korean pop because the music and the language is very interesting. Every time i do my work i have to listen to K-pop to concentrate or focus on my work. I don't know why but K-pop is the only thing I listen to while doing my work. It's fast paced but some songs are more slow. K-pop is a really good type of music to listen to.

parama9000 | Student

There shouldn't be a specific music type for each subject.

In general, Baroque music is the most optimal for normal studying.

When it comes to key facts or subjects that you do not like, it is best for you NOT to play music as this will hamper the effectiveness of your study.

When it comes to subjects you excel at or like, playing music will increase your study effectiveness.

Personally, if I study during morning, I prefer slow-paced music, and gradually increase the tempo as the day passes.

CaitlynnReeves | Student

I listen to different music depending on what I'm studying. 

Math: I listen to rap music while studying for a math test. I had a calculus teacher who would allow us to listen to music during tests. I would listen to the same songs that I studied to and that would help me remember things. 

English: While I'm writing papers I never listen to music with lyrics; it distracts me and it takes me longer to find the words I am looking for. I listen to classical or electronic music. Lindsey Stirling is one of my favorites. 

History: I never listen to music while studying history. Silence helps me the most in this subject 

Science: science is my favorite subject and comes easily to me so I listen to whatever my favorite artist is at that time. Sometimes I even watch TV.

i usually listen to kpop sometimes or i listen to classical as it allows me to focus on the material and still keep me in touch with reality and helps me for some reason recall what i have read. 

PrunTuns | Student

I feel that as human beings, we tend to often make the mistake of perceiving phenomena through a sort of black-and-white lens. Listening to music while studying has both its proponents and opponents as well, and I see lots of articles online--educational or not--that either staunchly say, "Listening to music is bad!" or something along the lines of, "Music, contrary to what we may believe, actually boosts studying ability!" But as humans, although we do have certain inherent similarities with each other, we are also as variable as the DNA that defines each of us. Some of us are prefer consistency in our daily lives, while others thrive off frequent novelty. It's even evident in the answers to this thread: Some of us operate well listening to upbeat music, some function best under calming or neutral tones, and some just need silence. 

When I study, I do listen to music. What I listen to really, really varies. I can never quite settle with music with lyrics when the studying in question involves words (such as with English or history). One of my teachers (psychology? I can't recall) told me once that this is because the brain would be using the same region to process both the words in the assignment and the words in the music, which results in distraction. With this kind of homework/studying, I usually listen to any sort of instrumentals (Celtic, piano, James Galway, movie or game or show soundtracks, jazz, etc.) or stick with white noise (the website I use is White Noise & Co.). With anything else, such as math, I listen to whatever in the world suits me at that moment: All of the above, Death Metal, K-pop, J-pop, Flamenco, music in Spanish, The Gipsy Kings, the 10-hour He-Man loop, classical, classics, so on and so forth. 

Music aids in boosting some of that adventurous flair. Choosing a genre to play is like selecting a door out of many. And this response sounds so unnecessarily philosophical. 

Check out the links below! They were fun to read about. 

ayl0124 | Student

I am the type of person who can't study without music! Everything feels too quiet when there is no sound. I tend to reread the problem over and over again because the silence can be overbearing. 

I usually have a fixed playlist that I'm constantly listening to throughout the day. I don't think you should adjust your music style to when you're studying. When I am enjoying what I am listening to, I feel less bored and less stressed. By adding music to my study routine, I am adding a fun aspect to an otherwise negative task. 

Another thing I suggest (if your teacher allows you to) is listening to the music you study to in class. When you learn things, your brain often associates your surroundings to the new information. That's why you should chew the same flavor of gum in a test as when you are studying or why certain smells will help you remember vital topics during a test. By listening to the same music, you are telling your brain that it's time to study!

During most of my classes, I have my headphones in and I am usually listening to alternative bands because they are mostly mid-tempo. However, if your favorite songs are sad ballads, I don't see how it could negatively affect your studying when you're enjoying what you're listening to!

rachellopez | Student

When I study, I don't often listen to music. If I want all my attention focused on my assignment, listening to music will distract me and I won't be able to do it. When I do listen to music I will listen to slower songs that will calm me and allow me to read the question. I listen to a lot of fast paced music like hip hop and I cannot listen to that when studying.

clyoon | Student

This all depends on what kind of person you are. If you can handle music while thinking about math equations or trying to come up with an argument for an essay, then I suggest slow classical music. You can always look up composers like Debussy or Chopin and some pieces by Mozart. I would be careful of Mozart's fast pieces however. With all the fast scales and notes and tempo and the full orchestra with different parts, fast classical music can be distracting and can actually slow you down. But that's just something I experience. That's why I go to slower music.

Or you can always look up instrumentals. Try checking out instrumental soundtracks of films! Or really any instrumental song works too. You can listen to things by Hisaishi or Hans Zimmer or Alan Silvestri maybe.

I would suggest wordless songs when working on English. For me, listening to a singer's lyrics while trying to write an essay is very distracting. But when working on math, I can always listen to lyrics.

If you can handle lyrics in your music while working, I would suggest calm artists like John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Norah Jones, or jazz artists like Jonny Blu. Acoustic songs are nice too. I would not advise you to listen to pump up songs like Black Eyed Peas, Britney Spears, or Neon Trees.

You should look for music that is soothing rather than exciting so you can stay more focused on your work, not the music.

If there's a particular sound you enjoy, like the sound of a viola or cello, go ahead and you can search up cello instrumentals or something!

Remember there are always study playlists out on the web. You can look at websites like SoundCloud, YouTube, 8tracks, or Spotify!

nicole8923 | Student

I tend to go towards more soothing music. I found that this works much better than listening to very upbeat music, because I easily get distracted. 

arrellbelle | Student

Well both my sister and I are very different when it comes to music and studying. She's the type of person who learns the best when there is no music at all because it helps her concentrate better. Rather for me, I prefer having music in the background when studying, otherwise, I feel somewhat distracted. However, the type of music does play a vital role in how well I study. Usually, having a very loud up-beat song will distract me because I tend to sing along or think to the lyrics of the song. In contrast, having a quiet, smooth song helps me concentrate on the material before me.

laurto | Student

Personally, listening to music while studying isn't the best idea. I feel like listening to music, during studying, is very distracting. While doing homework, I usually listen to my favorite upbeat music because it makes me feel more energetic. This works especially well when writing because upbeat music makes you feel less stressed. Classical music is great too. For example, yesterday my math teacher played classical during a test and it actually helped me a lot. I feel like classical music is better for concentration and your favorite uptempo/upbeat music helps you get things done. 

zumba96 | Student

Personally I don't often listen to music when I'm studying but if I'm stressed I for sure end up playing some music. When I have a giant exam coming up, but I have lots of time I listen to more upbeat happy tunes because they make me less worried and ready to finish up my work and sometimes when I have an assignment I listen to fast upbeat music to get me in the mood and start working!! But most of the time if I'm stressed I listen to calm music and this may sound silly but if I'm so stressed out I think I might leave my homework and worry for another day I quickly but on a super happy song or even Disney...yes Disney as in Disney childhood movies and sing along even if its something like Hakuna Matata because it just ends up making me happy and stress free

maria-vivanco | Student

okay so this a question that i suffered with before. personally i find it easier to focus with calming such as classical music. i don't recommend listening to music that you know like music that you can sing along too. for example, i used to listen to blink-182 and fall out boy when i used to do my math hw but i couldn't concentrate because the music was distracting me because they were my favorites. this playlist has helped me SO MUCH. its calming and gets you so focused. 

my advice is when you are drawing or doing projects, you can listen to music you want. however when reading and work that takes much concertration such as math and essays, i recommend listening to calming music. the playlist i mentioned before helped me so much. i managed to finish two essays in an hour. 

thewanderlust878 | Student

I consider myself to be a music fanatic. I play 8 different instruments, I have over 2,000 songs currently on my iTunes library, and I have 100+ CD's and Vinyl records. Needless to say, I listen to a lot of music, and during my homework time is no exception. When I am doing what I call "mindless" homework-like finishing a math worksheet or doing Physics homework- I tend to listen to true Indie Rock/Alternative. This music is mostly a constant guitar, bass, and drum sound, with light vocals that can barely be heard. This tends to help me concentrate better.

When I am studying for tests, quizzes, etc, I listen to pure classical, with a bit of Frank Sinatra thrown in. Classical music improves my brain function, allowing me to focus, concentrate, and absorb the material much better. 

Wiggin42 | Student

I've experimented with various kinds of music and this is what I found out. 

Pop music with English lyrics and mild to heavy rap influences tend to lower my concentration and efficiency. Often the lyrics will clash with whatever I'm reading or trying to memorize. However, if my assignment is something like a poster project, this music helps me finish the mechanical work faster. 

I had better results with foreign language songs. I could concentrate better and my mind was not distracted by the lyrics. However, fast paced synthetic sounds killed my studying atmosphere. 

Generic white noise and other ambient sounds like waterfalls and leaves rustling had even better results than the foreign language songs. This was perfect in filling up that odd quietness without being too overbearing. White noise helps drown out distractions in my house. This is perfect for physics homework where I need to be fully engaged with the material. 

My favorite studying music is simply instrumentals.  The Piano Guys, Lindsey Stirling, and Two Cellos are some of my favorites. This was the most effective in helping me concentrate on tough reading assignments and working on thought-intensive math problems. However, I noticed that if the instrumentals were covers of popular Pop Music, I lost a little focus since I knew what the lyrics were even if they weren't being sung. 

Broken down by subject and homework type: 

Pop music for busy work that I need to get done quickly and not have to worry about retaining all of the information. Or for finishing time consuming work that doesn't take up a lot of mental energy. 

Foreign language songs for simple English Literature reading assignments and repetitive math problems. 

White Noise/Nature/Ambient sounds for intensive concentration on my toughest subjects such as Physics. 

Instrumentals for Calculus, reading and taking notes from textbooks, and computer coding.