Thursday, November 14, 2013

Listening to music while you study makes you smarter

Students who listen to classical music while they study do better in Maths exams 
Spotify reveals that listening to the right genre of music whilst studying boosts concentration

Music streaming service Spotify reveals that pupils are more likely to perform well academically if they listen to music while they study. This revelation couldn’t have come at a more ideal time, as students in Malaysia are braving through their SPM and STPM exams now.

Clinical Psychologist Dr Emma Gray, who specialises in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at The British CBT & Counselling Service in London, was commissioned by Spotify to investigate the effect music has on studying. The research found that it is important to choose the right music for the topic you’re studying and that it stimulates learning and can enhance concentration.

Students who listen to classical music with 60-70 beats per minute while they study score on average 12% more in their Maths exams , the equivalent of up to a whole grade. The melody and tone range in classical music, like Beethoven’s Fur Elise, help students to study for longer and retain more information. Spotify apps such as Classify make searching for the right kind of classical song possible, thanks to the 1,500 playlists (and counting!) in its catalogue.

Meanwhile, the left side of the brain is used to process factual information and solve problems, which are key skills in Science, Humanities and Languages. Listening to music with 50-80 beats per minute such as We Can’t Stop by Miley Cyrus and Mirrors by Justin Timberlake has a calming effect on the mind that is conducive to logical thought, allowing the brain to learn and remember new facts.

Nicole M. Charara, Marriage and Family Therapist in the United States and a Clinical Psychologist in Singapore says: “As it is understandable that parents have concerns letting their children listen to certain types of music, they can participate in selecting the most effective type of music for studying. A safe alternative, that’s also backed by research, would be to encourage children to listen to songs with no lyrics or classical music, as this can be soothing and can help sustain their focus.”

When studying for subjects like English, Drama or Art, students use the right side of the brain to process original, creative thoughts. Research shows that these students should listen to emotive rock and pop music, like Katy Perry’s Firework and I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction) by The Rolling Stones, which produce a heightened state of excitement that is likely to enhance creative performance.

Dr Gray comments: “Music has a positive effect on the mind, and listening to the right type of music can actually improve studying and learning. Music can put you in a better frame of mind to learn – and indeed, students who listen to music can actually do better than those who don’t. For logical subjects, like Maths, music should calm the mind and help concentration, whereas for creative subjects, the music should reflect the emotion that the student is trying to express.”

Charara adds: “We should keep in mind that listening to the right tunes can complement studying and makes performing tasks more enjoyable. This is because individuals are more likely to focus and concentrate once they are calm and relaxed, which are crucial elements to retaining information.”

Angela Watts, VP of Global Communications at Spotify, commented: “With millions of students streaming music on Spotify, it’s great to see the positive effect it could have on their studies. With Dr Gray’s help we’ve created the perfect playlists to help students get the grades they want.”

The perfect music to study to:

Maths study playlist - Classical
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Science, Humanities and Languages study playlist - 50-80BPM
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English, Drama, Art study playlist - Rock and Pop
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