Falcon Roundtable: Music or No Music When Studying?


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Students all have their own studying and homework methods that work for them. One big factor is background noise. Members of The Falcon share their takes on whether or not they use music as a background track to their work sessions and why.


Over the past year, I have become quite a music-reliant person. With a year of studying from home, I have had to make sense of a lot of time sitting with my thoughts. In that time, I have curated quite a playlist. Although it was started years ago, most of it was added in the past year – it has now reached over 24 hours of music. 

I usually just choose a single appealing section of this playlist and hit play. I like to listen to music I am familiar with so I don’t have to divert additional energy to comprehend new music, lyrics, melodies, etc. I try to just use it as a tool towards which I can direct my wandering thoughts so that I can focus my actual material-comprehending part of my brain towards the study material. In addition, I usually can only use music for studying that does not involve deep reading/comprehensive analysis, such as math problems, study-guide making and review for science classes, and drafting articles from outlines for The Falcon.


Listening to music while studying and doing other homework significantly increases my attention and comprehension levels. I find it very hard to focus in silence; and that may be a fault of mine – that I need something else stimulating my brain at all times besides the task at hand. But regardless, it’s how I work best. I generally steer towards music with lyrics rather than lo-fi or instrumental, I find that the more energizing the music is the better. It is usually late in the evening when I really dive into my work so I need something that will keep me focused such as early 2000s One Direction and Taylor Swift. The only times I won’t listen to music is while reading a book for English, but besides that, there are always soundtracks playing in the background.


I have never relied on music to do any work, but I also don’t need silence. I wouldn’t say music usually distracts me, I just don’t find it necessary. If music was to distract me it would be from me tapping my foot to the beat or singing along to a catchy tune. I usually find myself doing work while my dog barks, tv roars, and my family converses, but I don’t have too much trouble focusing. If I have an important test, quiz, or other major assignment, I usually study or work in silence. I do tend to get fidgety when I am doing work, which can distract and stop me from doing it, but music is not something I consider a distraction, nor is it something that I consider necessary when doing work or studying.


I don’t think I’ve ever efficiently studied or done homework with music playing. Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong, but I really just can’t focus on my work with it playing. I find myself thinking about the lyrics more than my work, but maybe that’s just a result of my playlist being just too good. To combat this problem, I tried listening to lofi study beats, which don’t have lyrics. I don’t know why, but I still couldn’t focus on my work. Music is just too distracting, so studying in silence is the optimal choice for me.


I almost never listen to music when doing homework or studying. I have a lot of trouble concentrating on anything else but the music when I listen to music, so when doing homework I definitely need to focus my attention on the work in front of me.


Usually while studying or doing homework, I tend to not listen to music. Whether it is classical, rap, or pop, I always feel distracted. I find myself drifting off and away from my work. I especially do not like listening to music when I am reading or writing. The combination of the lyrics of the song and the words I am reading or writing scrambles my thoughts together. The one exception I make is when I am doing things that do not require reading or comprehension skills, like math homework, for example. Usually, in those scenarios, music keeps me motivated. That is when I will turn one of my many playlists, with some of my favorite artists such as Amy Winehouse, Kacey Musgrave, and The Beatles.  


Whether or not I do my homework with music is dependent on two things. The first is the kind of homework I have. If I’m doing something like writing an essay or annotating a book, I usually need to give that my full attention and not have music distracting me in the background. However, if I’m doing math or Spanish work, something that requires less of my attention, I’ll put on one of my many playlists. The second thing that determines if I’ll listen to music or not is if I feel like being productive. Sometimes I’ll simply choose my own enjoyment over productivity and I’ll listen to music, even if it’ll slow down my writing or cause me to occasionally lose focus on the task at hand. Other times I’ll make a compromise with myself and listen to instrumental music like movie soundtracks to let my brain focus on only the words I’m trying to read or write. 


Over the past year, I have developed a need for music when doing homework. Usually, I am unable to focus without it because working in complete silence is overwhelming. Having music as a background noise helps me get into my homework zone and oddly enough, allows me to do my best work. The only exception to that is when I’m doing reading assignments of some sort since they require complete silence whilst reading/annotating. Otherwise, music can be a really helpful tool, especially if you are one to have trouble easily focusing. 


While I do enjoy listening to music in my free time whether that be cleaning my room, painting, or having a dance party, I have come to the conclusion that music does not help when I am studying or doing my homework. What normally happens is I will put on a playlist that consists of my favorite artists. While I work on my homework the playlist plays, suddenly if a song comes on that I love I start singing the lyrics. Then, I immediately get distracted from work and pay more attention to the song, then I begin to have a super intense party. That is super great for me but not for getting my work done. 


I have the firm opinion that music slows my work and distracts me from the task at hand. At the same time, without fail, I always listen to music while doing homework. Listening to music, especially with lyrics, wholly takes me out of my work, and usually makes my work sessions much longer. And yet, working to the tune of nothing makes it impossible for me to get anything done. Ultimately, music drives me, even if it worsens the quality and efficiency of my work.