4 Ways Music Helps You Learn

When you think of music, you probably don’t immediately think about studying. You probably think about fun—entertainment, parties, dancing. But did you know that music helps you learn?

It’s true! Among other benefits, music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory. And according to Johns Hopkins University, music can also help you retain learned information. But lets dig deeper…

Here are the four main ways music can help you learn:

1. Music reduces anxiety.

Every student faces anxiety at some point during the academic journey. Mainly during exams and tests. Did you know your favorite tunes can reduce anxiety as much as a massage? USA Today reveals, “one study found that music’s effect on anxiety levels is similar to the effect of getting a massage.” And a study done by Cambridge University showed that hip-hop music specifically provides an uplifting effect on its listeners that can help them accept, manage, and deal better with mental health issues.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Music is an effective stress reducer in both healthy individuals and people with health problems. Research finds that listening to soothing music can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels in heart patients.”

2. Listening to music while studying helps you focus.

A Stanford study found that “music moves [the] brain to pay attention.” Clearly students are catching on to the fact that music helps you learn because Waterloo surveyed 200 undergrad students and found that 120 students listened to music while studying. The most popular reasons they gave were: “helps concentration,” “keeps mind calm,” “prevents sleepiness,” and “blocks external interferences.”

Easily distracted by noise or disturbances? Living in a loud dorm? We suggest turning on some instrumental music or nature sounds to overcome the auditory distractions.

3. Music improves brain functions.

Background music may enhance performance on cognitive tasks. One older study found that listening to music allowed test takers to complete more questions in the time allotted and get more answers right.

Fun fact: learning or studying music itself acts as an exercise for the brain, training it for challenges and difficulties. It is said that people with musical training, specifically before the age of 7, have healthier brains and are less likely to develop diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

4. Music, emotions, and memory are closely tied.

Memory, emotions, and music are closely linked to one another. Music serves as a potent trigger for retrieving memories. You’ve probably noticed it before; you hear a song you haven’t even listened to in years, yet you can still repeat every lyric. 

Wondering why it’s way easier to remember lyrics than concepts or definitions? It’s because a song has a pattern, which makes it very easy to understand and recall the lyrics. This is also the reason music producers put a catchy hook in every song.

So the big question is…what music helps you learn the most?

There’s no right or wrong answer here—it all depends on you and your unique brain. The bottom line is music helps you learn. Try different genres of music and see which works best for you: rap, instrumental, nature sounds, lyrical songs, beats, or maybe hip hop are all good options. Find the best genre for you and stick with it. You can even build yourself a special study playlist or two.  

So what are you waiting for? Get out your smartphone, mp3, CD player, turntable—whatever!—and see if it helps your studying go smoothly. Need some study material to get started? Test out your new study playlist with a visit to Numerade.com. We’ve got more than 1 million step-by-step STEM video lessons you can stream, customized quizzes, test prep, an A.I. tutor, and more to get you through late nights, early mornings, and those pre-exam crams.

By Vishal Das, Numerade Intern

Sources and Further Reading:

Does Music Help You Study: Science Says There Are Many Benefits. (2021). Retrieved 1 September 2021, from https://www.fnu.edu/benefits-studying-music/

Kanye West knew what we wanted to see and blinded us with it. (2021). Retrieved 1 September 2021, from https://www.mic.com/p/kanye-west-knew-what-we-wanted-to-see-blinded-us-with-it-82758137

Does Music Help You Study? The Science Behind Sound and Learning. (2021). Retrieved 1 September 2021, from https://tutorme.com/blog/post/does-music-help-you-study/

Does music really help you study better?. (2021). Retrieved 1 September 2021, from https://www.brainscape.com/academy/does-music-help-you-study/