The Influence of Music and the “Mozart Effect”

Have you ever listened to music as you did your homework? Have you ever wondered why we do this? Many believe music keeps you focused during homework. ‘How?’ you may ask, well you do this by tuning it out and making it into background music. After a couple minutes into the homework your attention completely focuses on your homework since your brain doesn’t allow you to completely focus on two things at once. Some people think that complete silence is actually more distracting than music and allows their mind to wonder, which is why they turn to music to become productive and knock out that homework. I personally, listen to music while doing homework for this reason. Once my attention is hooked into the homework, I become much more productive than without music.

According to a study done by the University of Wales, it has been scientifically found that music actually does benefit your retention of information. Listening to music while studying can improve your memory, attention, your ability to do mental math, along with lessening any anxiety or depression you may feel (Abercrumbie, Destiny 2016). Another study that was done at John Hopkins University showed that music helps you focus (Abercrumbie, Destiny 2016). Playing music while brainstorming, creativity activities, and project is a great thing that helps you focus on what is in front of you. Music is also known to makes us ‘smarter’. In 1996, a study had been conducted on students that were taking their SAT exams by the College Entrance Exam Board Service. In this study they found out students who were musically inclined, sang and/or played an instrument, had scored 51 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 39 points higher on the math portion of the test than kids who are musically challenged.

Music starts up our brain and makes us feel more energetic, connecting the link between music and learning (Abercrumbie, Destiny 2016). Music also stimulates the different regions of the brain responsible for memory, motor control, timing, and language (Abercrumbie, Destiny 2016). Neuroscientist Anne Blood said. “You can activate different parts of the brain depending on what music you listen to.” Meaning, different songs and different genres of music activate specific parts of the brain. Neurobiologist Mark Jude Tramo says, “Music is biologically part of human life, just as music is aesthetically part of human life”.

‘The Mozart Effect’, a book by Don Campbell, includes research on beneficial effects from listening to certain types of music. The book includes research on how music makes us smarter along with a study from scientist at Stanford University revealing a molecular basis for specifically Mozart music (Abercrumbie, Destiny 2016). They had ran a test on rats and discovered that these rats, alike humans, perform better on learning an d memory tests after listening to Mozart pieces. Some of the many benefits of Mozart pieces include improvement in test score, reduced learning times and errors, improved creativity, faster body healing, integration of both sides of the brain, and raised IQ scores, according to research done at the University of California. Music not only enables our brains to work more efficiently and effectively, but it also helps increase energy levels when performing certain tasks.

Listening to music before a sports game or workout is known to enhance your performance. You will hear people say that music “pumps you up” and gives you an energetic feeling when warming up for a sports game. I, myself enjoy listening to music before a soccer game to get myself more focused and hyped up. Certain music gets my blood pumping and I feel like I can take on the world after listening to it. It enables me to get in ‘game mode’ where all I erase myself from reality and just focus on the game by cancelling out anything and everything around me. Music helps motivating people by its upbeat tunes and the message it is sending out. Personally I focus in on the beat/rhythm more than the lyrical content, but it just depends on personal preference. That is the magic of music; you can listen and use it to your own personal advantage.

Music is so essential to turning on performance and providing a rewarding workout (Ruani, Alex 2018). Dr. Coastas Karageorghis, a world-leading researcher on music for performance, says that “one can think of music as a type of legal performance-enhancing drug”. This is because music can enhance your performance, power, strength, and give you a positive end result in a variety of ways. The first way is dissociation through music can divert the mind. In other words, keeping your mind off of sensations, like fatigue, that creep up on you during your performance. Research has repeatedly shown that music can improve one’s performance by drawing attention away from feeling of fatigue and pain, especially when engaged in endurance activities such as swimming, cycling, or running (Ruani, Alex 2018).

In fact, sports scientist at Brunel University have determined that music can increase you endurance by 15%. It has been shown that listening to music before and during an exercise increases efficiency of that activity while postponing feelings of fatigue. This is especially true when there is a synchrony between the movements of the athlete and the rhythm of the music. Music is also perceived to be motivating which can lead to bursts of intensity. In terms of muscle strength, these bursts of intensity increase your work capacity and bring out explosive power, strength, and productivity. Haile Gebrselassie, one of the greatest distance runners in history, broke the 10,000 meter world record when he synced his stride to the song “Scatman”; that alone speaks volumes for the power of music.

Along with diverting the mind of fatigue and pain, music can promote internal motivation. Music is used to achieve a certain level of focus and concentration before a game or competition. As I previously said music puts me “in game mode”, athletes also refer to this as “in the zone”. It is a feeling of energized focus that puts your mind and body function on ‘auto-pilot’, allowing them to put aside other distractions and solely focus on the accomplishments they want to achieve during the game. Synchronizing your music with repeating exercises increases your work output. In another sense, listening to a faster tempo will help you move at a faster pace giving you a better workout. Conversely, slower tempo, will be conducive to a calmer, more graceful pace. This is especially beneficial to sports that need a lot of focus and concentration such as gymnastics and ice skating.

As we all know, music evokes emotions which link certain songs with positive feeling and memories. This could be beneficial to a performance stance by boosting internal motivation by triggering good emotions. This process can help you experience greater pleasure from the activity. Researchers believe that these factors have the power to increase you adherence to an exercise program in the long run (Runi, Alex 2018). So, if music can be added into a training program, researchers believed they will be more inclined to come back because of the positive attitude and confidence they gained from hearing it previous times. Music has a compelling way to make people more focused, efficient, and motivated in terms of performance.

In essence, music has been essential to everyday life for centuries now; it is what makes our world go round. We depend on music daily for a large variety of reasons. Whether it be entertainment purposes, advertisement, mental health issues, mood, movies, performance, and many more, music is all around beneficial. Focusing on the performance aspect, music enables you to concentrate, focus, be more efficient, increase your knowledge, and helps increase test scores when doing school work. Musically incline students that listen to music while doing homework compared to musically challenged students that do not tend to have better grades in school and be better test takers. Research has proved this to be true. When it comes to exercising and sports, music takes your mind off of tiredness pain, improves productivity, work ethic, strength, endurance, and power, promotes internal motivation, and helps you experience greater pleasure in the activity. As you can see, music influences us in different, valuable ways.