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Unpopular opinion: Listening to music while studying is too distracting

Debbie Allen

Listening to music while doing schoolwork is very common among college students.

Walking through the Holmes Student Center, it seems like everyone there is wearing AirPods. Drumbeats and loud guitar riffs seep through the air, resounding through the multiple pairs of headphones I can see people wearing.

Poised at their laptops typing away, the music seems to have no effect on them.

I can’t relate.

I’ve tried listening to music while studying or doing homework and it’s way too distracting.

I can’t focus, and I’ll start doing anything but my homework. I’ll sing along to the song I chose to listen to or dance discreetly in my seat.

And before I know it, twenty minutes have passed and I haven’t gotten anything done.

Not everyone feels the same way.

I have to be very careful with my song choice, there are some songs where I’ll just stop working and just listen to them.”

— Nick Matousek, junior marketing major

“It depends on the music and the work I’m doing,” junior marketing major Nick Matousek said. “When I’m doing finance, I usually have something more laidback or quieter so I can focus, or if it’s really pedal to metal then I try to find something more high-energy so I can focus.”

Music is proven to reduce stress and anxiety and can help some students pay closer attention to their classwork.

For me, it does the exact opposite — music is too distracting, it stresses me out if I have a lot to get done.

The study cites the compositions of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven as being some of the best music to listen to while studying.

Scientifically, classical music might be the best for focusing, but that’s probably not what most college students are listening to.

“I don’t have a dedicated study playlist, that’s just not how I function,” Matousek said. “I just have a bunch of different playlists (with) different genres.”

Matousek’s playlists range from throwback songs to hip-hop to indie and everything in between.

But even people who can focus on their work while listening to music have to choose their music carefully.

“I have to be very careful with my song choice, there are some songs where I’ll just stop working and just listen to them,” Matousek said.

If people who usually listen to music while studying can still get distracted by a good song, I truly have no hope.

I’ll simply continue to study in silence. It might be a little less fun than listening to my favorite songs, but at least I’ll get my work done.

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