This conversation is closed.

Are teachers right by saying that listening to music while working is a bad thing?

I would find answers helpful if they explain why music is or is not bad to listen to as you work and if there are certain types of music that do not help you concentrate and that others do and if so what types.

  • thumb
    Jul 24 2013: Basically the requirements are for familiar music that you don't particularly like but are comfortable with, with no lyriques to sing along with. It's called Muzak and was designed for increasing efficiency in the workplace.
    It's no good to listen to music you actually enjoy unfortunately.
    Here is a recent skeptoid episode on this very topic
  • thumb

    . .

    • +2
    Jul 23 2013: Dear Cj;
    Many studies support the fact that music, and especially classical music, " has an amazing and enhancing effect on learning and memory"......and according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2001. Web. (accessed 11 Jan. 2010), this enhancing effect is sometimes referred to as the "Mozart effect". Important to know that "anything with lyrics can prove to be more harmful than helpful."

    I hope the following is helpful to you:
  • thumb
    Jul 23 2013: I think so. I work with very complicated concepts that demand hard thinking and it is just impossible with music playing in the background.
  • thumb
    Jul 23 2013: There is research on this point, as I learned when my younger daughter did a project on this about eight years ago. An example of when music is not ideal is when trying to learn and remember a process for doing something. The conflict arises because music competes for use of the same part of the brain that is necessary for internalizing processes, such as those in mathematics.

    I find that for me music can interfere with the comprehension of difficult or technical materials.

    That said, as Robert writes below, music can sometimes block out even more distracting noises.

    If you are a teacher, I urge you to look this up. I think it has something to do with competing demands on the hippocampus, but i don't remember this clearly.
  • Aug 23 2013: Well it depends.

    Since you can not multi-task effectively, distracting music, or music that you are actually listening to would distract you from learning. However, there is some research to support listening to classical music and increased learning.

    If it were just music and education, it would not be a big issue. Most of the time, it is music plus texting, cell phone, internet, IM's, etc.
  • thumb
    Jul 24 2013: In a classroom environment where there are many vastly varied tastes in music it is impossible to please everyone so, YES, those who say music in the classroom is not a good thing are correct.. If the question is asking about individual environments I say the answer is NO, those who say music is bad are not correct!
  • Jul 24 2013: I think it depends on the individual. there was a study that was just published that indicated when music that a student liked was playing in the background, the concentration was better.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jul 24 2013: You already think at sub levels?
      • Jul 25 2013: If this is a shot at my intelligence then that's very arrogant of you because my statement clearly said so. I'll delete my original comment so it will be mutually beneficial. I don't look ignorant and you don't look arrogant. But if its not then yes and I think a lot of people aren't in flow 24/7. If its not a shot at my intelligence then of course I wouldn't have to tell you to grow up and I would say its just a misunderstanding.
        • thumb
          Jul 25 2013: Patrick. No shot at your intelligence intended. I apologize. My remark is directed to the humorous ambiguity of your deleted statement which allowed for the interpretation that you think at sub levels, or, that you think at gifted levels. I just thought it was funny. I'll get over it if you will.
  • thumb

    Lejan .

    • +1
    Jul 23 2013: Hell no! :o) That would be disastrous to any professional musician and music student on this planet!

    I think teachers should be more precise in describing by what they mean by that ... ;o)
  • Jul 23 2013: If we are talking about the classroom, I think the teachers' are free to do whatever is necessary to improve learning. Keep in mind that in some classes a tolerance of music might be exploited and students would listen to music instead of the teacher.

    In the outside world, I enjoy listening to classical music to drown out the sounds of multiple conversations taking place outside my cube. If there were dead silence, it might be preferable. If there were crashing waves, a babbling brook or a thundershower to listen to, that would also be preferable. However, any thing to distort long-winded and loud conversations I see as a aid to concentration. I do not think that loud music or music with discernible lyrics would be a good choice.
  • thumb
    Aug 23 2013: .

    Music is a kind of physiological language.

    So, it is:
    (1) Good when it is encouraging you.
    (2) Bad when discouraging.
  • Aug 22 2013: We just use music today, not for any inherent benefit, but just because everyone else does, as well as making things seem less boring.

    Music in a supermarket helps you shop better? Music in a gym helps you lift a heavier weight? Music in a elevator makes it go faster? Music in a bank makes the queues shorter? In fact all of those examples, it's used as a distraction from the mundane reality (eye/ear of the beholder) of where and what your doing.

    Thus I admire teachers for saying no to music and realizing the true "purpose" of education is to - listen, learn, think, ask. - repeat.
  • thumb
    Jul 27 2013: Personally for me it depends upon a few things; what I am learning, where I am, and what kind of mood i am in.
    At the busy computer labs at university often there is people talking and alot of background noise which I find really distracting! When I listen to music without words and not too loud it blocks out everything else. I cannot listen to music with words while studying as I inevitably end up singing along to it in my mind instead of reading what is in front of me. I think ultimately it would come down to the individual, its been pretty widely accepted that there are different learners so it would not be a broad stretch to say that some working environments are better for some people then others.
  • Jul 25 2013: Yeah I wasn't sure. Thats why I double wrote. I still don't really understand what you mean but its nice to know it wasn't a harsh attack. I was going for multitasking mindset with that statement of sub levels. No harm done.
  • Jul 25 2013: I would say music can be a good thing if your only relationship with it is doing work. I personally placebo certain music to work out, to relax, or to be happy. If listening to music that you listen to when your with friends or in different situations then your mind can easily recognize what was associated in the first encoding of that song;that's where your mind can end up wondering. If you pick a genre or have a relationship with a type of music and only do it when you want to be productive, then yes I believe that music is good to use while working. I definitely would say you cannot choose your all time favorite song to do work because you will be too focused on it or distracted. I don't think music associated with recreational activities can mix with a productive mindset.
  • thumb
    Jul 24 2013: I always found bollywood music good for differential equations. For Fourier series analysis western classical was very helpful.
  • thumb
    Jul 24 2013: It really depends upon the learning style and age of the student. I have always preferred complete quiet. Any noise was a distraction at any age. I have a young daughter that does best listening to music while working. She shares it helps her concentrate. whether this serves her in later years is yet to be known. It is not a one-size-fits all answer.
  • Jul 24 2013: Lol,Dear cj megown,a few years ago If I met the case,I would suggest students so:listening to music while study is a bad habit:)But not anymore now.

    Just a few days ago,while my daughter was doing her homework she listented to her favorite music and songs,I were gonna stop her doing so.But I didn't,because at that moment I recalled when I was a kid,I did so.And it seemed not disturbed me to keep on learning.

    And I also want to know what kinds of music can help people concentrate more and what can't...Once I were interested in the topic:if music can help students to concentrate on studying?I did search from internet,I got some slight infor:they said classical and those Baroque music do can help people to concentrate on things they are doing if they listen to them often...
  • thumb
    Jul 24 2013: Listening to the music while working

    if it makes you happy and do not disturb others,

    will make your job light, will make you more efficient.