Why Does Music Help to Concentrate while Writing
Concentration may seem to be one of the most challenging skills to master out there. And rightfully so! It is tricky and elusive until you find the right tools to aid you in the realization of the task in front of you. If you want to get good grades, you must find ways to focus and remain motivated.
Some days it flows, but on other days you may need a little boost. That is where music comes into play, helping you focus for a more extended time. If you have not tried it, you likely know someone who has. Some say they cannot concentrate on writing without background noise; others may even find silence distracting. Regardless of which group you identify with, let’s look at some benefits of listening to music while writing.
Why music can help you with writing
Whether you are a high school freshman tackling an assignment, or a university student taking on an essay, writing can become daunting, especially when you lack energy or motivation.As a result, many students, frantic to finish their paper on their own, look online for “help with writing my essay. But if this option is not for you, you can turn on the music of your choice and let your creativity flow.
We know that writing calls for a calm, clear frame of mind free from tension. It is incredibly difficult to concentrate on a writing task when your mind is constantly buzzing with thoughts and the background is full of distracting noises. In complete silence, even the sound of a fly can be a distraction.
Our brains appear to have two attention systems: conscious and unconscious. The former allows us to direct our attention to the things we want to focus on, while the latter takes note of anything that might be significant to our survival. It stays active at all times. Funnily enough, the noise a fly produces is picked up by the unconscious attention system, way before you realize what you are hearing is free of danger.
Music solves two problems simultaneously: it cuts out the background noise and boosts your morale by stimulating your brain, resulting in better concentration and a higher sense of motivation. So, struggling to write? That might be the solution for you.
How does it work
Some may find it harder to write in silence: the background noises become too noticeable for you to be able to concentrate. Music aids concentration by masking those exact sounds. It acts as a stimulus to the brain, altering your mood and providing a rhythm that keeps you alert. That makes the task at hand more entertaining, less tedious, and allows you to concentrate more easily.
But not just any melody will be suitable. It has to be unpredictable enough to keep you alert but not too crowded, which would make focusing on the task impossible. There is a musical term called syncopation, which might explain this. Low levels of syncopation found in monotonous, simple beats are not engaging enough for the brain. On the contrary, slightly more chaotic tunes with higher levels of syncopation are just what you need.
Music is not only a universal language people from all cultures can understand, but it is also a powerful tool with plenty of benefits. According to some research, music can improve your mood, while others contend it can promote happiness and lower anxiety.
Music is an essential component of the human experience, from the drumbeats of our prehistoric ancestors to the limitless streaming services of today. It has accompanied humanity for many centuries. Now that our horizons have broadened, we can use music not only for shamanic rituals and pure enjoyment, but also for productivity and motivation.
- Focus boost
As we have mentioned before, playing music in the background is a great way to block out any unwanted, distracting noises. That relaxes your unconscious awareness and lets you consciously focus on the task at hand.
- Brain stimulation and improved memory
Music, as one of the mediums for incoming information, stimulates our brain functions just like any mental activity. For example, the infamous “Mozart effect” refers to the idea that classical music may increase your overall intelligence. The phrase has a more particular meaning in the scientific world, claiming that listening to shorter Mozart music samples leads to temporary (10–15 minute) enhancements in visual-spatial reasoning.
- Improved mood
According to research, having a positive attitude often enhances learning outcomes. When you feel good, you learn new information and study more effectively. Studies suggest that listening to music alters how people react to stress both physically and psychologically in terms of their hormone production.
When you don’t fully comprehend the subject, studying might be stressful. Playing some music can help you unwind and perform better at work if you’re feeling stressed or overburdened.
- Increased motivation
Imagine listening to your favorite track. That ticklish happy feeling spreads through your body when you hear the familiar notes. The enjoyment we get out of listening to music is very much physical! Research shows that music activates the same reward centers in your brain as other things you enjoy daily.
If listening to music while writing doesn’t help, you could always have a little jam session during study breaks to shake off the tension.
Kinds of music that can help you
Earlier on in the article, we mentioned the term syncopation. We discussed that music has to be unpredictable enough to keep you on your toes but not too chaotic as it can result in a more prominent distraction than the background noise you are trying to block.
According to some studies, it all comes down to personal taste in music. But before you run to your streaming apps to comb through your playlists with the intent to pick out your all-time favorites, here are a few rules that might help you in the process:
- Opt for calm, instrumental music. Scientific studies mostly focus on classical music, but if Mozart is not your jam, opt for ambient or soft electronic music.
- Reduce the volume. It is best to keep the music at background volume. Otherwise, it being too loud could prevent you from thinking clearly.
- If you can, stream continuous albums or advertisement-free music. You don’t want your focused flow interrupted by a real-estate commercial.
- Avoid experimental music with unpredictable sounds. Your brain may become confused about what to anticipate from music that varies abruptly or lacks a consistent rhythm. You will find yourself concentrating on the music rather than the assignment.
- Refrain from music with lyrics. You will not be able to help but focus on the odd word that catches your attention, pulling your focus away from writing. While lyrics in foreign languages may be less distracting, it is generally inadvisable to listen to music with words while writing.
- Choose music you feel indifferent about. Listening to your favorites, or perhaps genres you do not enjoy, can affect your capacity to focus.
So, which genre?
The first one that comes to mind is, of course, classical music. Don’t rush to conclusions. Even if you are not a fan of the works of, let’s say, Bach or Chopin, there is still plenty of contemporary classical music to explore. In the process, you might broaden your horizons and expand your taste in music.
Blues & Jazz music
A close second would be Blues & Jazz music. The funky tunes designed to keep you on your toes intertwine with monotonous melodies, which may just be the perfect mix for writing. And do not forget the creativity boost! No doubt Blues & Jazz music will keep you entertained but is predictable enough to help you focus more efficiently.
While electronic music such as techno may be a little too monotonous and EDM or house a little too saturated with sounds, ambient is the way to go. It is relaxing and pleasant, a perfect choice for writing.
Some may find music too stimulating during writing. The best substitution would be white noise. It does what music is supposed to do, only without the melodies. Be it the sound of ocean waves, a mountain river, birds chirping, or rustling leaves: white noise breaks the silence without bringing funky sounds that may be too distracting for some. Needless to say, it creates a peaceful atmosphere in your workplace, which will certainly boost your mood.
Video game soundtracks
Another interesting choice is video game soundtracks. Specifically created to immerse the player in the gameplay, they might be the perfect background tune for tackling an essay. Who would have thought?
It all comes down to personal preference
At the end of the day, nothing can beat your favorite genre in giving you a mood lift. Will it improve your focus? You will have to find that out for yourself. Try experimenting with different genres, and if you find that listening to music does more harm than good to your process, you can always try other effective study life hacks to improve concentration and productivity. You could start by planning the day or trying to avoid picking up your phone first thing in the morning. Regardless of whether these life hacks are already familiar to you, there are plenty more to discover!