Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
– Desiree Panlilio
We all have our jam, our go-to tunes that we want to listen to. We have different music for different occasions. I have my go-to workout jam, and I also have my workday music that I listen to. The two genres of music are as opposite as night and day. My workout music keeps me motivated and pushes me through that last rep. On the other hand, I don’t need to hear Thunderstruck by AC/DC when I am trying to work and write emails and author a book. For those moments I find classical music provides the encouragement that I need.
Music can encourage creativity and make us more productive. But not all genres of music are the same, particularly when it comes to learning new material, and for our teens that would be studying new material and working on problem sets and building on their academic learning.
Researchers have long claimed that listening to classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently. This theory, which has been dubbed “The Mozart Effect,” suggests that listening to classical composers can enhance brain activity and help to solve spatial puzzles. There is a large amount of controversy over the “The Mozart Effect” and some say “yes” and some say “no”. The reason classical music may be effective is that there are no words for the brain to focus on, and we can all agree that classical music is known for being calming, relaxing and helping to reduce stress. I can honestly say I have snoozed off at a classical concert but certainly not a Billy Joe concert. The research does indicate that students perform better when they hear classical music.
I have had parent’s ask me numerous times my thoughts on the idea of having teens listen to music. My advice is to first have a discussion about the music. What I do encourage is for the teen to create a study only play list. This playlist should be a couple of hours in length and not be music that would be distracting to their focus. So I encourage some classical music, some soft tunes that your teen will not be distracted by and start singing or texting their friends about the song and the memory that the song provides. It is about having the music be an adjunct to your teen’s study habits and promote your teen’s retention of material and ability to learn.
So before you say “no” to music, think about how much we learn through music. A simple test is to start to say the alphabet. How many letters are you in before you start to sing the ABC song? Connecting music to a skill or something you are trying to learn can help to solidify the information and help with retention of the material at a later date.
The role music has in studying and learning is controversial, but have a conversation with your teen and make the decision based on what would be most helpful for your teen’s learning outcomes.