The art of music is extremely powerful. Music can change your mood or help you feel like you’re not alone. The countless genres allow for everyone to find their unique preference and connect to the art. From classical, to country, to rap, each style of music not only has a rich history, but they all affect us in a unique way. The songs have meanings and stories behind them which are personal to the artist or writer However, the power of music and interpretation allows for each song to touch an individual in their own way. 

Not only does music have an emotional impact on us, but it can have a psychological impact. Many students listen to music while studying or doing work to help them focus. While many people find similarities in when or why they listen to music, the genre, artists, and songs each student listens to are unique. Some students prefer classical music, while others prefer rock, r&b, or one of the many other genres; the list is endless. Though the real question among parents, teachers, and even students is whether music is really beneficial or actually makes a difference when it comes to focusing? 

The possible therapeutic benefits and mood changing abilities of music have been researched and debated for decades now. Research done by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) concludes that music can help manage stress, enhance memory, and alleviate pain. AMTA also concluded after reviewing 25 trials “that music is a valid therapy to potentially reduce depression and anxiety, as well as to improve mood, self-esteem, and quality of life.”  There also happened to be no noticeable negative effects from music therapy. Barry Goldstein, a recording artist who also studied music’s vibrational effects on the brain found that music had a huge impact. In an article for Conscious Lifestyle magazine, he wrote that music has the ability to enhance brain functions such as memory and cognitive functions. He also found that music can “stimulate new neural connections” and can help people stay focused and attentive. (Does music affect your mood?)

In terms of helping with homework, research has actually found that music has cognitive benefits. It has been determined that “background music, or music that is played while the listener is primarily focused on another activity, can improve performance on cognitive tasks in older adults. One study found that playing more upbeat music led to improvements in processing speed, while both upbeat and downbeat music led to benefits in memory.” Furthermore, studies have shown that listening to music while studying may benefit the student, however, it depends on the type of music, whether the listener enjoys the music, and even whether the music is musically trained or not. Someone who is musically trained knows how to read music or has taken lessons for an instrument. Another study concluded that “musically naive students learned better when listening to positive music, possibly because these songs elicited more positive emotions without interfering with memory formation.” On the other hand, more musically trained students “tended to perform better on learning tests when they listened to neutral music, possibly because this type of music was less distracting and easier to ignore.” 11th grader Devyn B. took guitar lessons for many years as well as participated in Hewitt handbells. She says that she does listen to music while doing work such as math, surveys, and art. “I listen to everything when doing work, I don’t listen to a specific genre. Different types of music don’t affect me when it comes to focus.” However, she says she does not listen to music while reading or writing. (How Listening to Music Can Have Psychological Benefits)

All this being said, if you are one who is easily distracted by listening to music, it may be beneficial to work in silence. 11th grader Remi B. says that she does not listen to music while doing her work. She said: “[music] distracts my thoughts when I try to read and write.” She says this is because she “internally tries to sing along,” leading the work to become more “confusing.” She has tried to listen to more mellow, neutral music, which she claims she has a different reaction to than when she listens to rap or other more upbeat pop, however, she still doesn’t feel as if listening to music is beneficial for her.

The beauty of music is that everyone relates and reacts differently. There is no right or wrong way to listen to music. Whether you listen to music when doing homework or not, it does not mean you appreciate it less or it doesn’t affect you. Music is meant for the listener to appreciate in whatever environment and situation they please. 

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