How Music Affects Productivity


Does listening to music help you focus on schoolwork?

As we enter into the infamous third marking period slump, many MHS students are left searching desperately for something to carry them through a night of homework. Rather than take many seniors’ approach and procrastinate until the assignment burrows itself out of sight and feeds on your grade, there may be an alternate solution in the form of music.

While some dismiss the idea of simultaneously listening to music and doing homework for fear of distraction, many studies have shown that music can actually improve motivation and concentration. The research of Teresa Lesiuk, an assistant professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami, has shown that those who listen to music while completing a task come up with better ideas more quickly than those who don’t. She attributes this to the positive effect on one’s mood that music often has. When happy, people have a more open mind, and are less preoccupied by the imperfections of life.

Biologically, music releases dopamine – a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and the brain’s reward center. This response is triggered subconsciously, and no active focus on the music is required for mood to be improved, meaning there is no inherent distraction. For many, the absence of music, or total silence, presents more distractions in the form of wandering thought than does music.

Not all genres of music have the same effect on productivity, however. Harmonious, consonant music tends to have the most positive neurological response, while more somber music has been proven to increase singular focus for extended periods of time. For many, music without lyrics is the least distracting, but this may not be the case if one is able to block out words as background noise, or does not usually like traditionally instrumental genres, such as classical or electronic.

Madison High School students have varying opinions on the effects of music while doing homework, but the majority find that listening at least makes the work they have to do more enjoyable. In study halls, and whenever there is free time in class, one can observe many breaking out headphones in order to tune out the distractions surrounding them. MHS seniors Andy Jung and Anna Morgan both agree that they are unable to focus when lyrics are present in the music they are listening to.

Quinn Fetterly added, “I cannot be productive without music. I cannot be productive with music. I don’t think I ever really get anything done. But sitting around at a desk for three hours telling myself I am capable of completing the the work that needs to be done without ever actually starting is more fun if there’s music playing. The staff of MDO is here if you ever need to talk, Quinn!

Personally, music of any kind provides a pulse of energy to overcome the urge to procrastinate, and isolates me in a world where my school assignments suddenly feel more meaningful with captivating sounds as a backdrop. It even makes the time spent working pass faster. I also find listening to music productive in a sense. Since I am always looking to discover new artists, music serves as a form of multitasking.
If you are like many high schoolers struggling to complete the work assigned to you, music may be a life-changing solution. If you have tried listening to music before to no avail, experiment with different genres, or practice only tuning in on a subconscious level, freeing your mind to focus on the work in front of you. Without music, writing this article would have been a much more arduous task!