Music has often been regarded as much more than just an artistic medium. The goal of good music is to communicate ideas and elicit emotional responses. We all respond to music in different ways, and various kinds of music elicit different responses.
It is that diversity of musical styles and responses that make music an ideal accompaniment to study. Since every student is different, everyone also uses music in slightly different ways and for slightly (or even drastically) different purposes of enhancing the effectiveness of study and of promoting better learning. Here are seven common reasons students incorporate music into their study time. Which ones have you tried so far?
The act of merely creating background noise can help some students focus and stay on task. There are many variables involved in this type of implementation, so it is up to the student or group to decide what kind of music or specific artist(s) will best help them stay organized and in the mode of learning.
A learning aid
Teachers and professors often use music as a means of supplementing lessons and lectures. It breaks up the monotony and helps the student make associations between the music and the course materials. That leads to better retention of information and better performance on exams.
A stress reducer
The right kind of music can help a student de-stress, especially when studying for a big exam or struggling through a complexly written assignment. It is much easier to get through a tough essay or homework assignment if there is some good music playing in the background. It is important to note, however, that the style of music can also have the effect of either increasing or decreasing stress, so choose wisely!
Motivation and inspiration
What if the words aren’t flowing out onto the page? What if you can’t find the motivation even to sit down and start studying? Ask yourself: “What kinds of music get me pumped?” What songs, artists, or musical styles motivate you to get stuff done? Take an inventory of those songs, artists, and pieces of music and put together a playlist that will keep you on point until the job is done.
Concentration and focus
Teachers and professors also use music as a means of helping students keep their heads in the lecture. Classical, ambient, and acoustic music are all familiar genres that educators use to create an atmosphere of inspired learning in their classrooms.
For calming fear and worry
Worried about failing that test you studied all night to pass? Before starting the exam, listen to some music that inspires you and helps you feel more confident. The information is already in your brain; the music can make it easier to access it.
For cognitive associations
Last but not least, music can be useful for making cognitive associations and chunking them in with songs, lyrics, or pieces of music. Difficult concepts can be better understood when there are associative elements in the learning process. While music isn’t the only valuable enhancement, it is one of the most significant.
All of the above implementations can help students achieve higher goals and get better grades, but we will leave you with just a word of caution: your favorite music isn’t always going to be most useful for learning. We recommend doing a little research to determine what kind(s) of music will best help you meet your individual goals.