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Music and Homework

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A question many parents may have pondered as they watched their child study whilst wearing headphones….. is music helpful when doing homework? The answer is generally “no”…. but there are some different things to bear in mind, depending on what kind of work is being done.

Listening to music often ignites and excites the brain, albeit subconsciously. This is especially true for new music and for music with lyrics. If a student is trying hard to learn something new then listening to songs is definitely not a good thing as the brain is being distracted by the words and by the music.

Instrumental music is a lot less likely to distract. This is more likely to fade into the background and the student will be devoting a greater part of their brain to what they are trying to learn. Perhaps this is even a time to suggest your child tries to broaden their musical knowledge - more Beethoven and less Beyonce perhaps?

And what about silence? Yes, silence is best of all. If you are trying to learn something new or write an essay or revise for a test, silence ensures you can devote all of your brain to the task in hand and you are likely to be more successful.

It should be noted that there are times when music can be helpful. For example, when undertaking a repetitive task, music can make the task more enjoyable and fewer mistakes are made. However, whilst this might apply to housework for example, it does not apply to homework. Homework is a time to either be learning something new or practising skills to help you improve and get even better.

Although the research tells us that music is generally not good for learning, it should be noted that results can be different for different people. But even so, if your child ever says, “I can concentrate better when I listen to music”, that is probably not the case. Let’s leave the headphones off for now and put them back on once the homework is done.

Patrick Horne, Principal