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Music’s Effect on Homework

Previously Published Sep. 22, 2022
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For many people, music is a part of everyday life. Music has many forms and displays a variety of emotions and stories. Every lyric of every song has a more profound meaning, has a thought connected to it, and makes the listener think, “What next?” Even songs without lyrics can invoke thoughts, emotions, and deep feelings. Music can be enjoyed during all activities, like exercising or chilling out. However, people debate whether music while working is helpful or detrimental.
With data collected from a small sample of BISV students, most students who work with music attest that music does in fact help their focus. There is a wide spectrum of what genre of music helps with what type of work, however. To quote some of our own students: “Music for math is the best, but reading/writing [homework] with music is terrible for me.” (anonymous) This aligned with most of the answers for what kind of homework music helps with. The majority of students answered that they listen to music for work that involves math, science, and numbers, but if they’re working on reading, writing, or annotating, the music turns off. Further elaboration on the type of music shows that more beat-focused, classical and calm music tends to help more. This aligns with studies at Northcentral University, stating that “the soothing sounds of classical music seem to increase mood and productivity, which make it great for studying.” Further statements from Northcentral University also support calm, no lyric music.
Students that answered no to whether music helps elaborated that music helps with math and number calculations, mainly homework that requires thinking but not knowledge retention. They also described how they listen to music with fast tempos, lots of distracting lyrics, and how they listen to music for writing assignments. These examples of music being detrimental all share a common theme. The music is often within rap, pop, or other rapid genres, and especially doesn’t help on assignments where the student is expected to absorb information and formulate arguments.
With the popularity of platforms that use music rising, so does the usage of music whilst working. The effect of music on schoolwork really depends on the genre and work material, with calmer music helping out with homework that involves lots of number crunching and calculations; while rapid lyric-heavy music tends to be less popular when combined with any homework related to literature and the language arts. Music is both helpful and detrimental to one’s focus on work but can be more helpful or more harmful depending on the music and work.
 
Images by Brady Y. (‘25)
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Brady Yang, Website Manager

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