Whether it’s riding a packed train or washing a towering pile of plates, nothing makes agonising work more bearable and (dare we say) enjoyable than music. And, judging by the number of students wearing headphones while reading books and writing reports in libraries across the globe, it’s fair to say that the same applies to studying, too.
But if you’re still on the fence about whether listening to music can benefit you or not, here’s a list of reasons why you should give it a try and why it will make a world of difference:
1. It makes life infinitely more fun
While the jury is still out on whether listening to music can benefit everyone or just a specific type of person, there’s no denying that university life will be a lot duller and tedious without it. A little bit of Kanye West or Beyoncé is all you need for that extra boost of confidence to get your head down and crack on with your work.
Plus, listening to music has been scientifically proven to cause the release of dopamine; a chemical which makes a person feel happier, more motivated and relaxed. And, let’s face it, you can’t ace an exam if you’re feeling the opposite of all those things.
2. It helps you visualise better
There’s been a lot of debate on the accuracy of the Mozart Effect, a popular theory in the nineties which claimed that listening to Mozart will make you smarter. And while recent research tends to dispute these claims, that hasn’t stopped hordes of mums and teachers from playing his music during study period.
The reasons being that there’s still compelling data out there which suggests that classical music can indeed improve spatial-temporal reasoning or the ability to manipulate shapes mentally – albeit for a limited time. The study also proposes that the Mozart effect isn’t limited to the maestro only, but to other classical masters as well.
3. It makes you feel less anxious
A recent survey by YouGov showed that 1 in every 4 of British students suffers from mental health problems. Among those who participated, anxiety and stress seem to be the most commonplace, with 71% of them citing studying as a main source of stress. Given the amount of pressure students are constantly under, this statistic is not entirely surprising but it is still quite alarming.
If you’re like the many students suffering from anxiety and stress, then you might want to try listening to rap music while studying. According to research done by Cambridge University Professors Akeem Sule and Becky Inkster, hip-hop music provides an uplifting effect to its listeners that can help them accept, manage and deal better with mental health issues. While we agree that rap is not everyone’s cup of tea, it also doesn’t hurt to try new things if it means giving your brain that extra bit of support it needs.
4. It’s exercise for your brain
You’ve heard about the importance of working out countless times, but no one’s really talked about the importance of exercising your brain. Just like any other organ in the body, the brain grows old too, and without proper maintenance, it can age very badly. There are many ways to take care of the brain like reading, solving puzzles and writing but listening to music is perhaps the easiest and most convenient to do among all of them.
In a paper published in the online journal, Neuropsychology, professor Brenda Hanna-Pladdy states that musical activity serves as a cognitive exercise for the brain which trains it for more challenges in the future. Therefore, people who have musical training early on, specifically before age seven, have healthier brains and are less likely to suffer from debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s or Dementia. But you don’t have to wait for a certain age before benefitting from music. Regardless of whether you’re a freshman or senior, you can start exercising your brain now, simply by bopping to your favourite tunes.
5. It helps improve your memory
Ever wondered why it’s easier to memorize the lyrics of Eminem’s Lose Yourself than the table of chemical elements? That’s because your brain looks for patterns to better understand, recall, and process information. It’s the same reason why music producers always put a hook in their songs, it’s designed to do exactly that – to ‘hook’ a listener in. It’s what the Germans call, der Ohrwurm, meaning ‘musical itch,’ or more popularly known as the earworm.
Coined in 1979 by psychiatrist Cornelius Eckert, earworm happens when a part of the song gets stuck in your head for an extended period of time (we’re talking days and weeks here) and you can’t get it out. Incidentally, this is also one way of improving your memory, which is why some language courses are set to music since it’s easier to remember information when it’s embedded within a pattern of ear-catching melodies. Some even suggest that the benefits don’t necessarily depend on the kind of music you listen to, but rather how effectively your brain latches on to the pattern of the song.
6. It helps you manage stress better
Studying at University is usually the time when you learn how to multitask. You juggle a number of activities such as hanging out with friends, impressing that terror professor and making time for your studies. In other words, it’s a very stressful time and to survive, you’ll need all the help you can get which includes listening to music.
A 2013 study published in the Chicago Journals showed that people often listened to music they can relate to because it helped them deal better with stress. It’s the same reason why so many people love Kendrick Lamar and worship Taylor Swift; listening to their music helps them process their emotions and strengthen their resolve without being too overwhelmed.
So, if university life has got you feeling a bit down, dazed or distracted then it might be a good idea to put some music on. Not only will it help you concentrate on your studies, it will also help keep stress at bay and put you in the mood that’s perfect for learning.
7. It helps you relax
Numerous studies show that feeling relaxed can benefit you in a plethora of ways; you tend to be more positive, you retain information better, and you’re not easily rattled by whatever unpleasantness comes your way.
Getting to a relaxed state when you’re a student can be challenging, especially with the number of things your brain is always struggling to remember. Instead of concentrating on the present, you’re always trying to think of what to do next that often leads to a panicked state of mind.
Similar to how your mum’s lullabies would calm you when you were in the verge of a massive baby meltdown, listening to music can also help you relax as by lowering your blood pressure, easing muscle tension and increasing your attention span.
8. It helps you escape
Surrounded by so much noise and too many distractions, there will be moments when you will want to be alone. But it won’t always be so easy to find a private space to work; coffee shops get full, libraries are too quiet, and the cafeteria is just not an option.
Music can provide you with the escape you need without having to leave the four corners of your room. In fact, research shows that people studying in a place often disturbed by ambient noises like talking, laughing or traffic, can concentrate better when they listen to music compared to when they’re just listening to their surroundings.
When used properly, music can help improve your study habits in many ways. Just remember not to be too distracted by the melody, and you’re sure to reap the benefits in no time.
How does music help you in your studies? Let us know in the comments section below.