Working at the Law Library, I meet a lot of students who spend time in the library, wearing their earbuds. I don’t know what they are listening to, nor do I ask. But sometimes, I hear music in the stacks. A few stray notes will escape the earbuds and drift down the quite aisles of books…. Have you ever wondered whether listening to music while studying really helps people to learn? A recent study reported in the Daily Mail indicates that listening to music does not enhance a student’s ability to concentrate.
Background music – a staple of students cramming for exams the world over – interferes with concentration, research shows.
Students who listened to their tunes while trying to memorise a list of letters fared worse than those who worked in silence, the British study found.
Even songs from their favourite bands proved more of a hindrance than a help.
Researchers from the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, tasked 25 students with memorising lists of consonants.
Some were shown the letters while sitting in silence, others while listening to music by their favourite bands or by groups they had a strong aversion to.
Listening to music – including tunes that they liked – hampered their recall, the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology reports.
This shows that listening to music, regardless of one’s opinion to it, impairs the ability to memorise information in a set order, said researcher Dr Nick Perham.
The students were also tested while listening to a voice simply repeating the number three over and over again and while listening to a voice saying random numbers – something known as a changing-state sound.
Although the random numbers proved a distraction, the repetition of the number three didn’t.
This suggests that it is not peace and quiet that is important when studying – but lack of change in any background noise.
What do you think? Does listening to music help you study? Does the information in this article give you any insights into music and other noises, and the impacts they can have on your ability to concentrate?