Does music help you study?

Spanish version:

Music is all around us. We listen to music everywhere and at all times. Beethoven, Post Malone, Marshmello, Nicky Jam… The number of music genres and subgenres increases non-stop and we have millions of songs at our fingertips. But when it comes to studying, is music our ally or our enemy?

This is a topic in which there are no clear conclusions, what works for one person may not work for another. For instance, I usually study with background music. In fact, I am writing this article while listening to ‘Your Girl’, by Tourist (a popular track from the YouTube channel Majestic Casual). But I also have friends who study while listening to Drum and Bass and others who need absolute silence to concentrate.

The effect of music on study depends on several factors such as the subject being studied, the time of day or the student. Therefore, it is difficult to answer the question that sets the title for this article. Despite this, I have elaborated a summary with some situations where I believe music is our friend.

Numbers and repetitive tasks.

We can do any numerical work that does not have great complexity more easily thanks to music. For subjects such as algebra, statistics or accounting having background music often encourages us and makes our work easier.

With repetitive tasks, such as memorizing formulas, music can be useful too. When a job is repetitive, it is easy to get distracted, and a good song can keep us focused and break the monotony. This idea applies to assembly line workers, something we can read in this study done by researchers from the University of Birmingham.

Reading comprehension.

For people doing courses such as History or Law it is common to read long texts that need a lot of understanding. In this kind of situation, playing quiet music in the background generates a relaxed atmosphere that can make the task easier for us. Classical music or instrumental piano recordings are the most popular solutions.

However, in these cases we should not listen to songs that have lyrics. As researchers at the Cardiff Metropolitan University mention in a study, listening to music that has lyrics hinders our concentration. We pay attention to what the song says or even sing it, which causes us to lose focus on what we are reading.


Music inspires us, and when doing a creative activity that is a great advantage. For lovers of graphic design or photo editing, a good playlist is always a great companion.

However, the influence of music on creativity does not relate only to our artistic side. It can also help us solve problems, whatever the subject we are studying. As Dr. Teresa Lesiuk explains in her research, listening to the right music can lead us to have new ideas or come up with original solutions to complex challenges.

So, what should I listen to?

It is your responsibility to discover what works best for you. For some people silence is more than enough. Others prefer to study while listening to reggaeton. There are really curious cases, like some History students who listen to music corresponding to the period they are studying. I personally prefer a quiet melody in the background because it helps me stay focused.

It is clear that music influences our study although we still do not know for sure how. That is why it is convenient to try several methods until we find the right one. If not, silence will always be a good choice.

Above all, we must not forget that dedicating time and effort to study is the most important. But just like in cinematography, music (and silence) play a very important role. You decide the soundtrack that will help you achieve your goals.

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