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Does Music Help You Study?

Photograph of the blog post author, Ella Clarke

Ella Clarke


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Does Music Help You Study? Find out with the Music Gateway Blog

Does music help you study? It is no secret that music is a helpful tool for studying and working for a lot of people. While others find it impossible to concentrate even with minimal background noise.

The benefits of listening to music include:

  • Improved mental state
  • Motivational boost
  • Improved memory and stimulation of the brain
  • Improved pain and fatigue management

Considering these factors, music might seem like a reasonable way to improve your study sessions. However, not everyone agrees. Are there any benefits to it?

It is still unclear how music affects the brain and learning, but there is evidence that it can be beneficial.

Read on to find out the pros and cons of studying while listening to music, as well as what you can do to make the most of your study playlist!

The Mozart Effect

Does Music Help You Study the Mozart effect

According to a 1990s study, classical music, particularly Mozart’s sonata for two pianos, helps improve spatial reasoning abilities and test scores. Spatial reasoning is the ability to find and move in space, draw relationships between objects, and problem solve. As a result of this improvement, it became known as the Mozart effect. ‌

The question of whether music stimulates brain activity related to skills has been debated for a long time. It has been claimed that classical music makes you smarter. 

The results of some later studies indicate that classical music increases spatial reasoning, while others demonstrate that it does not. ‌

In either case, the Mozart effect is temporary and thought to make you feel better rather than boost your IQ.

Music Lowers Stress

Does Music Help You Study

You can experience stress when you have exams and deadlines, which makes studying difficult.  During times of learning, stress can enhance memory formation, but can also hinder recall. ‌

This means that even though stress may help you store knowledge, it can also prevent you from accessing it. As a result, you may have difficulty remembering things during exams, which will negatively affect your performance. ‌

The benefit of listening to music is that it helps you relax and reduce stress, which is beneficial when you are studying. According to a Russian study, listening to music for an hour a day increases relaxation in the brain.‌

Another study found that listening to classical music reduced blood pressure more than listening to jazz, pop, or no music. 

It Can Motivate You

If you’ve ever struggled with a long, exhausting night of homework, your resolve to keep studying may have waned long before the end.

It can be helpful to listen to music with faster beats and louder sections to stay alert and motivated. In times of exhaustion or overwhelm, you may find this helpful.‌

According to research from 2019, music activates the same reward centers in your brain as other enjoyable activities. Learning new information can be motivated by listening to your favorite music.

Listening to your favorite songs during study breaks may motivate you to work harder even if your preferred music doesn’t work well for studying.

It Can Increase Focus

The music you listen to can also influence your focus and attention both positively and negatively. A study from France found that playing classical music during a one-hour lecture helped students perform better on a quiz than those who listened without music.‌

The researchers discovered that music can train your brain to pay better attention to events and make predictions about what might happen. 

What impact does this have on your studying? Listening to music could help you make sense of new material if you struggle to understand it.

Several studies have also shown that music can improve focus. 

According to a 2011 study of 41 boys diagnosed with ADHD, background music distracted some boys and led to better performance in the classroom for others.

How It Can Hurt

However, listening to the wrong type of music while studying can distract us, which can negatively impact our learning. Tracks with a fast tempo and loud volumes are especially susceptible to this. Music has also been found to impair working memory, which is used for problem-solving and learning. Some songs, particularly those with lyrics, can also hinder our ability to read, making the material more difficult to absorb and comprehend.

When studying, what is the best type of music to listen to? Despite being lyrical, songs in a foreign language can actually prove to be useful study aids. In addition, selecting music with a slower tempo and keeping the volume low will be beneficial. For these reasons, many people choose to listen to classical music when studying, and again, studies have proven how beneficial it is.

There’s no need to give up music if you enjoy studying with it. To find the best music for study and work, keep these tips in mind: 

  • It is best to avoid music with lyrics. Lyrics in a language you understand will probably prove more distracting than helpful. 
  • Slow, instrumental music is best. Currently, most research focuses on classical music, but if you don’t like it, you can try soft electronic, space, or ambient music, such as you’d hear at a spa. 
  • Keep the music simple and avoid surprises or experimental compositions. A change in rhythm or abrupt changes in music can leave you uncertain about what to expect. It can distract your brain and prevent you from concentrating. 
  • Volume should be kept low. Loud music may disrupt your thinking. 
  • Try to choose songs you don’t feel strongly about. Concentration can be affected by listening to music you either love or hate. 
  • If possible, stream commercial-free music. Imagine listening to your instrumental Pandora station when a toilet paper commercial interrupts your flow. 


It is not fully understood how music affects your brain or education, but it can improve your mood and relax you. 

In addition to choosing your music carefully, you may benefit from white noise or other audio options if you still have trouble focusing.


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