Quite a number of research studies have been released recently about listening to music and productivity. A lot of the headlines point to the connection between listening to music and lessening of productivity. The important detail to notice is which particular type of activity the participants were less productive in.
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Sometimes studies have found that listening to music impedes tasks requiring verbal memory such as reading while others find that music with words is more distracting than music without words. The studies do not find that listening to music is distracting, just distracting during specific tasks.
These studies make us think about the way we reach for things to be good or bad, right or wrong, helpful or distracting. In the case of music listening and productivity it seems to have more options; the nature of the task (does it use language, does it require abstract or creative thinking or is a sense of flow induced by the music that you are looking for), the type of music (tempo, lyrics in your own language or in another language, no lyrics, types of rhythms, association with memory, this is a long list), volume of music and finally, most importantly maybe, how our own auditory network interprets and activates that music into our cognitive and motor systems.
It isn’t one answer, it is the answer that is right for right now and whatever it is you need or are trying to do. Add to this the emotional state you are already in and how you would like music to alter that state.
When it comes to using music in a classroom, the answer is not right or wrong, productive or distracting. The answer is that every child is different and in need of different options for their auditory stimulation. What comes from this is the creative challenge how to cater to every child differently, and give them agency to start making those choices themselves, based on their productivity.
Thinking of transferability of this skill! Choosing the right environmental choices for productivity is one of the many ways students enhance their executive function skills. And it all comes from “to put the music on or not!”
You can read the article here!