Studies related to music and its implications to learnin


Try to read this article with this music


I am asked often by grade 7 to 10 students if they can study or work with their headset, listening to music. My answer is usually yes with a question: what music are you into?   Generally the students give me a somewhat vague answer and I go to the next duty.

What I had been observing over the years is that most students can not really multitask. While they listen to their music I generally see their mouth singing along and their task taking forever to be accomplished.

So, one day I decided to take charge of the music: I put Christmas Kenny G "songs" in the classroom speakers. To my surprise, my grade 7 worked well while at the same time singing along. The tasks were not very hard to accomplish so they did well. My little test revealed that it seems that soft, wordless music help most of my students to focus. Of course, one test in one set up is not conclusive but now I think I might have one strategy in bank to deal with this "music thing".

I have to mention that I don't really like to students to be "plugged" to their cellphone all the time. They look like "droids" and it is not the best solution for their social skills either. Not to mention that many students while they say that they are looking for the proper song, take that time to text or go on their Facebook page. So, letting them using their cellphone in class time is a bit of a headache for me unless specific tasks are assigned.


Were you able to obtain a clear focus with the previous music? Now try this one. 


What the Researches Say

 The first review is from PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCES Research Report from the American Psychological Society VOL. 12, NO. 3, MAY 2001, titled AROUSAL, MOOD, AND THE MOZART EFFECT by William Forde Thompson,1 E. Glenn Schellenberg,2 and Gabriela Husain11York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and 2University of Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

This is very serious organization with serious Professors. Underlined is their take on the Mozart effect, in bold the conclusion of their findings.

       The “Mozart effect” refers to claims that people perform better on tests of spatial abilities after listening to music composed by Mozart. We examined    whether the Mozart effect is a consequence of between-condition differences in arousal and mood. Participants completed a test of spatial abilities after listening to music or sitting in silence. The music was a Mozart sonata (a pleasant and energetic (piece) for some participants and an Albinoni adagio (a slow, sad piece) for others. We also measured enjoyment, arousal, and mood.Performance on the spatial task was better following the music than the silence condition, but only for participants who heard Mozart. The two music selections also induced differential responding on the enjoyment, arousal, and mood measures. Moreover, when such differences were held constant by statistical means, the Mozart effect disappeared. These findings provide compelling evidence that the Mozart effect is an artifact of arousal and mood.

Very importantly, the authors mentioned that anybody can manipulate the "anxiety and arousal to enhance or inhibit performances (page 2):

... of enhanced performance caused by manipulation of arousal or mood. Such effects are well established. Very high or low levels of anxiety or arousal inhibit performance on cognitive tasks,whereas moderate levels facilitate performance (Berlyne, 1967; Sarason,1980; Solomon & Corbit, 1974; Yerkes & Dodson, 1908). Moreover,negative moods and boredom can produce deficits in performance and learning (Koester & Farley, 1982; Kovacs & Beck, 1977; O’Hanlon,1981), whereas positive moods can lead to improved performance on various cognitive and problem-solving tasks (Ashby, Isen, & Turken,1999; Isen, 1999).

Did you read what is in bold?  "Moreover, negativc moods and boredom can produce deficits in performance and learning." So, while the authors conclusion is that Mozart Sonata can increase spatial performances, the lack of music can kill performance and learning. So, my students hold a strong point in their request to listening to "their" music but some researches  show that music is as good as a background noise as any,  especially in the case of introverts. This is abstract from Ergonomics Journal, published in 2002 by Adrian Furnham and Lisa Strbac:

Previous research has found that introverts' performance on complex cognitive tasks is more negatively affected by distracters, e.g. music and background television, than by extraverts' performance. This study extended previous research by examining whether background noise would be as distracting as music. In the presence of silence, background garage music and office noise, 38 introverts and 38 extraverts carried out a reading comprehension task, a prose recall task and a mental arithmetic task. It was predicted that there would be an interaction between personality and background sound on all three tasks: introverts would do less well on all of the tasks than extraverts in the presence of music and noise but in silence performance would be the same. A significant interaction was found on the reading comprehension task only, although a trend for this effect was clearly present on the other two tasks. It was also predicted that there would be a main effect for background sound: performance would be worse in the presence of music and noise than silence. Results confirmed this prediction. These findings support the Eysenckian hypothesis of the difference in optimum cortical arousal in introverts and extraverts.

So now, I will have to consider half the population being introverts: their performance are not enhance but background music.  What about Mozart? 

I found an some other articles that discuss the Mozart effect. Basically, nothing stand. Introverts react differently from extraverts; any soft background music can help sustain focus in special needs students but overall, is there are no conclusive researches done to prove that any kind of music enhance learning at all in any case, any level or any background.  Found in  Educational Psychology Journal

An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology (2006); this article extends our vue on music the benefits of music and the authors, Rudy Crncec, Sarah J. Wilson and Margot Prior point out that music instructions is more powerful than the Mozart effect, if such a thing exists:

There is considerable interest in the potential non‐musical cognitive and academic benefits of music listening and instruction to children. This report describes three lines of research relevant to this issue, namely, the effects of: (1) focused music listening on subsequent task performance (the Mozart effect); (2) music instruction; and (3) background music listening. Research suggests that while Mozart effect studies have attracted considerable media attention, the effect cannot be reliably demonstrated in children. In contrast, music instruction confers consistent benefits for spatiotemporal reasoning skills; however, improvements in associated academic domains, such as arithmetic, have not been reliably shown. Finally, background music may calm and focus children with special education needs, thereby enhancing learning. Additional research is required to determine whether this effect is evident in normal populations. Overall, evidence for the non‐musical benefits of music listening and instruction is limited. The inherent value of music and music education should not be overlooked by narrowly focusing on cognitive and academic outcomes.