Noise or not? Is it more Effective to Study in Silence or with Noise?

Olivia, Fine Arts

Many students all over the world use music as a way to focus and to help them study, but is this effective? Now, in 2017, will this dispute come to a rest?


Some students and teachers think that music is beneficial to studying while others do not think this noise is good for productive working environments. According to Max Baker from The Independent, an online British news source,  “Research into the field has proven fairly ambiguous, with many studies contradicting each other.” Listening to music while studying really depends on the person, so people should try many different ways of studying in order to find what works for that person.  


Additionally, the music teacher here at St. Robert, Mrs. Janisch, explained, “Every person is different. If you’re going to do your homework then you might as well listen to music.” Music can make studying more fun and can make the students want to study.


Although there is research to back Mrs. Janisch’s statement up, some parents still approve of music while their kids study. Mrs. Connell who is a parent and a teacher, claims, “I don’t think that students should listen to music while studying because they’re listening to the music instead of concentrating on what their doing.” Even though this is just an opinion, it has truth to it. If something like a commercial comes on instead of the music, something totally different than what that person was listening to, it can be distracting. In fact, even the lyrics of the songs are distracting at times.


Secondly, some students prefer specific types of music for studying, like classical music. Steve Conner from The Independent states, “The idea that music – particularly classical –  can improve exam results has endured, with websites such as selling music supposedly designed to ‘charge the brain.’” Listening to music while studying is called the “mozart effect.” The “mozart effect” is a claim that music helps students study and that it is beneficial to them working. According to the “mozart effect”, music is supposed to focus students while they study, making them perform better in classrooms.


Different sounds and repetitive qualities in the music are good for studying. “What has been proven is that listening to music which is constant in state, has a steady, repetitive pulse, and is not too loud is better for concentration than inconsistent musical styles,” argues Max Baker of The Independent digital news. Listening to the same kinds of music every time someone studies can help that person remember the material they were studying.


Even though different musical styles are better that others, listening to music in general is relaxing. Listening to music in any situation can even help people relax from the pressures of studying. According to Max Baker, “For those who feel the pressure during exams, it has been observed that calming music, for example a Haydn string quartet, can help to reduce anxiety in an individual.” Music is calming on a chemical level as well. “Listening to music has been shown to cause the release of dopamine, meaning that it is a pleasurable, rewarding experience which can relax an individual,” state’s Baker. Whenever someone is listening to relaxing music, certain chemicals are added into that person’s brain which calms them down.


Something else to consider is simple background noise coming from one’s environment. According to Baker, “Subjects tested in environments with background music were found to get better results than those tested against background noise.” Everyday noises can disrupt someone studying. Everything from a passing plane to someone else talking can be a disruption. Music may wash out these disruptive noises.


Lastly, teams of researchers are trying to prove that the “mozart effect” is really as helpful as previously thought. For example, Steve Connor says, “Frances Rauscher, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, reported six years ago that volunteers who listened to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major could do certain mental tasks with greater efficiency as a direct result of the music.” This was trying to prove that music helps people concentrate. Additionally, “Christopher Chabris, a psychologist from Harvard University, said the ‘startling effect’ attributed to Mozart has intrigued scientists because it appeared to demonstrate that exposure to the composer’s music can raise IQ scores by as much as 10 percent.”  Mr. Chabris was skeptical of his conclusions, so he tried to debunk the effect. He re-analyzed the studies and the second time didn’t find anything to support it. This leads researchers to no conclusion that can be fully backed up.


Consequently, music, or noise in general can be beneficial or harmful depending on the person. The best plan of action to take is to try out many different kinds of studying habits with and without music in the background to see what works best for an individual.



Baker, Max. “How Music Could Help You to Concentrate While Studying.” The Independent. Digital News and Media, 2 Mar. 2016. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

Connor, Steve. “‘Mozart Effect’ Divides Science.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 25 Aug. 1999. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

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