I was looking through Friday’s Globe And Mail (C2) when this headline caught my attention; “If music be the food of work, play on.” I read the article with interest.

Workers are more turned on by tuning in to music, a survey finds.

Nearly one-third -32 per cent- of 1,613 U.S. employees said they listen to music while working through the use of an iPod, MP3 player or similar device.

And 79 per cent of them said all that humming along improves their job satisfaction or productivity, the survey conducted by Harris Interactive for staffing company Spheron Corp. found.

The effect of music was the highest among younger workers, with 90 per cent of those 18 to 24 and 89 per cent of those 30 to 39 saying it boosted job satisfaction.

That finding didn’t surprise me one bit. As a teacher, I’ve known that for years. Listening to music helps improve productivity. Why? One reason is because music acts like white noise in the background preventing students from noticing every other little noise that usually distracts them. Some kids can’t tune out things like a pencil dropping or someone asking a question. Their brain takes everything in; consequently, they are often distracted and off task in the classroom.

Just so there is no confusion here, I want to say that I do not advocate listening to music during a lesson when the teacher is  teaching or during class discussions. During these times students need to be attentive listeners and listen  to what is going on in the class.

Of course there have to be some guidelines for this to work effectively. I’ve learned the hard way.(Have you noticed, I seem to say that often?) After discussing using music as a tool to assist with concentration and focus, I give student these guidelines (well, they’re actually rules, but “guidelines” sound so much better. Some of my at risk students have trouble with rules. It’s all how you say it. I’ve learned that the hard way, too) These are the guidelines:

1. Listen to music that you know and love. Listening to new, unfamiliar music is distracting (your brain focuses on the new) and that defeats the purpose.

2. Listen to your own music on your own iPod, Mp3 player etc. Absolutely no sharing. Sharing wastes time and causes commotion that is distracting to other students and that defeats the purpose.

3. Listen to your music after I have taught the lesson. Listening to music while I am teaching distracts you from what I am saying and that defeats the purpose.

My students are cool about the whole music thing in class. They understand the need for guidelines and usually don’t push too often. It’s amazing to see the kids hooked up to their music and working away, doing far more while listening to their music than they would without listening to their music.
When I create an Individual Education Plan for my Learning Disabled or Behaviour students, if I believe that listening to music while working will help that student be more successful, I will include that accommodation in the I.E.P. and share that with the student’s teachers.

UPDATE
Click here for research about benefits of music in the classroom

Update- April 23, 2010- another research study about benefits of listening to music. Be sure to check out the comments, too.

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Comments

177 Responses to “Listening to Music Helps Students Be More Productive in The Classroom”

  1. Betsy on May 31st, 2012 9:36 am

    You really need to get a grip on teaching your students how to develop a more mature work ethic and better study habits in order for them to succeed. You are making no effort to teach these students who are most in need, good study habits and techniques to develop better concentration and focus. All things digital are not the answer. Using headphones with music in school and at the office is inappropriate social behavior, and will not benefit them in the longrun.

  2. Entre les branches on June 5th, 2012 10:17 am

    […] expérience avec un élève la semaine passé ma rappelé un article par Élona Hartjes du blog Teachers At […]

  3. Tharaa Krishna on September 19th, 2012 1:56 pm

    What a gem! It’s too bad more people don’t know about this place, this article had
    what I needed today XD
    Tharaa Krishna´s last blog post ..Tharaa Krishna

  4. Britni on September 27th, 2012 6:14 pm

    I found this while looking for fresh information about the benefits of using mp3 players in the classroom because my principal and I had a disagreement on the new policy at our school. The new policy states that personal electronic devices may be used if instructionally appropriate. I explained that in my understanding of the rule, listening to music is addressing learning styles…which he did agree with, but he was concerned about the school board’s thoughts on it. The school board doesn’t teach my 36 sophomores second hour, I do, and I have found that music keeps the ones that need it on task and focused without distracting those who need silence. I too use the same guidelines you outlined.

    I am just happy to find that there are others willing to fight for our students right to learn according to learning styles.

  5. charles on October 5th, 2012 8:09 am

    im writing a paper now about why students should listen to music in class while doing work. can you help me with some issue ?

  6. veronica on October 6th, 2012 3:08 pm

    hi, elona
    i am writing a research paper about how music affects your GPA, you think you can give me any ideas of how to start writing it?
    veronica´s last blog post ..Use Opendyslexic font in text and in devices to make reading easier for students with dyslexia

  7. Sky on October 30th, 2012 2:28 pm

    Hi Elona,
    I am researching, “Does listening to music while taking a test affect performance? Does the type of music make a difference?”, for a science fair at my school. Thank you so much for this information!!! I was wondering if you know of any other sites that would help in this area. Thank you!

  8. Elona Hartjes on October 31st, 2012 5:19 pm

    Sky,
    Some of my students have told me they can concentrate better while listening to music, but the music needs to be really familiar music so as not to distract them. I usually suggest old favorites.

  9. Research « tyrucorea on November 7th, 2012 11:16 am
  10. firelily on December 10th, 2012 11:15 am

    thanks for this info. im writing a persuasive essay and your site has been very helpful. thanks again for the unintentional help.

  11. Elona Hartjes on December 10th, 2012 1:08 pm

    You’re welcome.

  12. Me on December 14th, 2012 6:34 pm

    thankyou for writting this i’m writting an arumentative essay for my Language arts class and this gives many reasons and examples

  13. bearshare download on December 23rd, 2012 12:08 am

    This article is truly a nice one it helps new internet viewers,
    who are wanting for writing a blog.
    bearshare download´s last blog post ..bearshare download

  14. payton on January 8th, 2013 3:19 pm

    i also think dermott should allow music
    payton´s last blog post ..Attention deficit trait- oh, that explains it!

  15. Joe on January 22nd, 2013 10:12 am

    Wow no offense but the comments where more helpful,

  16. smelly ellie on March 12th, 2013 6:29 am

    :)

  17. tyler robinson on March 21st, 2013 9:48 am

    i am so glad other people love music with work like me thans for evrey thing. ms Elona Hartjes
    tyler robinson´s last blog post ..Do you ever feel as if you’re just a clog in the education system?

  18. jaidyn k on March 26th, 2013 7:31 pm

    Please tell this to my mom and my step father!!! they don’t believe me!!! :(

  19. Elona Hartjes on March 29th, 2013 3:43 pm

    Well, listening to music doesn’t help everyone focus. Perhaps your parents find music distracting.

  20. Devon Crain on April 6th, 2013 9:35 pm

    Hi, Elona.
    First off, I’d like to thank you for posting these blogs/articles. They have been immensely helpful to my essay during this nine weeks for persuasive writing. The subjectis “Why Should we be Allowed to Listen to Music in Class?”
    Anyways, I have a sort of ‘follow-up question,’ if you will. Do you think that if we as students listen to ‘straight curse’ rap (as in rap that is almost nothing but profanity), as that is what most of the younger generation listen to now-a-days, it would effect the student’s productivity?
    Thanks!
    —-Devon

  21. Natalie on May 1st, 2013 2:49 pm

    😀

  22. Elona Hartjes on December 9th, 2013 5:36 pm

    Ali,
    I’m delighted I could help with your paper. Good luck.

  23. Stratton on March 19th, 2014 10:36 am

    I believe that listening to music helps kids focus more with their work. music should be allowed in class.

  24. isabellla on May 8th, 2014 10:53 am

    i think that we should have ipods and electronic in school because it can help us concentrate and block out all the noise that is in the class

  25. sierra enterline on November 20th, 2014 9:35 am

    what are 3 reasons rap music should be aloud in middle school:-)

  26. Jacques on October 17th, 2015 7:44 am

    Very good website you have here but I was wanting to know if you
    knew of any forums that cover the same topics talked about here?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get
    feed-back from other experienced individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Kudos!
    Jacques´s last blog post ..Jacques

  27. Elona Hartjes on October 17th, 2015 5:08 pm

    I’m sorry I don’t know anyone else who writes on this topic. I suggest you use google scholar to search for articles so you can get names of people who are interested in this topic. I found google scholar very useful when I was doing my MEd. because it gave me leads. Good luck!

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