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They say classical music makes the best study songs, but are we really limited to Bach and Mozart?
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You’ve probably heard that classical music is great for studying, taking tests, and doing creative work. This idea comes from the “Mozart effect”, a term coined in 1993 when scientists discovered that listening to a Mozart Sonata for 10 minutes resulted in better spatial reasoning skills – a specific type of intelligence that involves visualizing and manipulating images in your brain involves.
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However, the findings in that 1993 study were blown out of proportion, and classical music became synonymous with intelligence: so synonymous, in fact, that in 1998, then-Georgia Governor Zell Miller proposed sending a classical cassette tape to every baby born in the state , free, so babies become smart.
Although the Mozart effect has since been discovered, some experts still think that music can offer other benefits to our brains – namely focus and productivity.
Evokes positive emotions: People tend to be more productive and efficient when they are happy (recent research confirms this), and the right kind of music can put a pep in your step. People who listen to music may actually be happier than people who don’t listen to music.
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Makes you feel happy: Sometimes work and life feel boring. When you feel bored, a happy song can make a dull task more interesting.
Drowning out other sounds: If you’ve ever worked in a cafe or office with an open floor plan, you’ve probably been pushed against the wall by the sound of someone sniffing or shuffling their feet. Listening to music, especially through a good pair of headphones, can drown out distracting sounds.
If you can’t stand the noise of your work environment, use music to drown it out. Sarah Tew/
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The research on music for productivity is inconclusive, to say the least. Some studies show that background music can improve your episodic memory and overall cognitive performance, but other studies show that background music can actually affect your ability to focus and learn. Others say it has no effect one way or another.
There are factors that affect whether background music also works: Some studies suggest that background music should be independent of texts to promote productivity; other studies simply say that whether music helps with concentration depends on how much a worker likes or dislikes the music.
Note that the studies discussed in this section measure something other than the Mozart effect mentioned above. While the Mozart effect measures the ability of music to improve intelligence after the music stops playing, research on music for productivity examines background music when music is played while your attention is focused on something else (your work).
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With the fact that there is no real scientific consensus in mind, it is worth looking at a handful of research studies on different types of music and their ability to aid in concentration.
Although the Mozart effect is muted, some research still suggests that classical music can help people learn and focus (just not as impressively as the 90s would have you believe). For example, one study found that college students who listened to classical music during a lecture learned more than those who listened to the same lecture without classical music. However, some research suggests that classical music (or any kind of complex) is best at performing simple, rather than complex, tasks.
Ambient music is a soft tone-based style of music that uses ambient sounds, such as the hum of an air conditioner or the hum of TV static. Ambient music often has no real beat, usually no lyrics and ends up blending into the existing background noise – this is why ambient sounds or white noise are often used in sleep aids.
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In terms of concentration and productivity, one study found that white noise can help ADHD sufferers ignore noisy environments and perform tasks more efficiently. However, there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to understanding when ambient noise helps and when it doesn’t, according to recent research from the University of Alberta.
We all know that spending time in nature is good for our physical health. It turns out that listening to the sounds of nature, even when sitting in an office, can improve your mood and promote deep concentration. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York found that soothing nature sounds, such as rain, can mask distracting noises and help workers stay on task.
This Nature Sounds playlist on Spotify has over a million monthly listeners, a good indication that the playlist works for something, whether it’s relaxation, sleep or focus.
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Just as certain styles of music can help you focus and get things done, other styles can sabotage your efforts, no matter how strong your work ethic. There is no research that explicitly compares the effects of different types of music on productivity, but most people would probably agree that it is best to avoid distracting styles such as dubstep and heavy metal music while working.
Actually, it all comes down to personal preference. And it’s not whether experimenting with background music really hurts – we’re talking about music here, not whether the food additive is safe or not. The worst outcome is a slow day at work and maybe a bit of scolding from your boss.
You need to know yourself well enough to understand what types of music and sounds help you focus, and which don’t. If you find yourself having a hard time focusing with classic ’80s rock playing in the background, it might be a good idea to turn off the Guns N’ Roses and switch to some less electric guitar .
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It’s worth experimenting to find out what kind of music helps you focus. I personally cannot listen to music, regardless of style or tempo, that has lyrics. I have tried and tried and failed. I was too caught up in words and unable to concentrate on the task at hand.
On the other hand, I find that I focus better when listening to soft electronic music or the sounds of nature (especially rain and waterfalls). Some of my most productive days are the result of turning on the floor fan to block out distracting noises.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have about a medical condition or health goal. Copyright © 2023 Media, Inc. All rights reserved. ® and related marks are registered trademarks of Media Inc.
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6 Types of Music Known to Dramatically Increase Productivity Another example of how much you gain by listening.
Music is not only a way to entertain ourselves: it can also stimulate creativity and help us be more productive. Listening to music can also be therapeutic, relieving feelings of stress so you can concentrate better.
Research has found that certain types of music can benefit us while we work. Some types of music seem to help with learning and improve our ability to process information. Another type helps block out distracting background noise. Yet another type synchronizes with our brain waves to induce “eureka moments.”
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So, if you’re struggling with productivity and want to know what to listen to, read on. These are six types of music that will give you a big boost to productivity.
Researchers have long argued that listening to classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently. This theory, which has been called the “Mozart effect”, suggests that listening to classical composers can increase brain activity and act as a catalyst for improved health and well-being. Several studies have confirmed that listening to classical music improves a person’s ability to manipulate shapes and solve spatial puzzles.
The absence of words in music can be one factor, as songs with lyrics become distracting when you try to focus. And classical music is known to calm, soothe and help reduce stress. This music genre was found to help students achieve 12 percent better in their exams. Some selections, like Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” seem to help students study longer and retain more information.
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Listening to the sounds of nature, such as crashing waves or a babbling brook, has been shown to improve cognitive function and focus. Nature sounds work best when they are soothing sounds, such as running water or rain, while more jarring sounds such as bird calls and animal noises can be distracting.
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that natural sounds improve mood and focus. The study found that employees were more productive and had more positive feelings when the sounds of nature played in the background while they worked.
This may be because the sounds of nature help to mask louder and more distracting noises, such as people
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