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Music in Class: Beneficial or Detrimental?

By: Kaelin Hughes/Junior Writer

With the no phones in class policy being implemented this year, the same question has been asked over and over again, “Can we still listen to music on our phones?”

Many students believe that listening to music helps them focus on their work while completing their assignments in class, and that it benefits them academically. Therefore, I found myself interested on the perspective of music in class from teachers; do they think it is beneficial, or a detriment to students learning?

High School Spanish teacher, Mrs. Lucrecia Jesse, was the first teacher I approached about music in class. She believes music is a detriment, for trying to read something for an assignment and listening to lyrics concurrently makes tasks difficult to accomplish, and there is unfortunately nothing done. Jesse states that she didn’t have music on while working on assignments in high school, and believes it made her tasks much easier to complete.

Director of Curriculum, Matthew Nebzydoski, believes students should be able to listen to music while completing academic work, but only with quiet background music, believing that listening to personal music can be a distraction based on studies he’s read.

After receiving these responses, I was further inspired to do some research of my own. After scrolling through multiple different sources for what felt like forever, I found myself at a cross-road. The amount of conflicting reports I found were astonishing. I found myself conflicted with what to do, but then I found the one.

A student at Penn State University, Thomas Moore, seemed to be my savior when it came to my research. He too was intrigued by the effects of music, and came across a study that found a middle ground between the opposing studies. A study conducted in 1977 was used to compare the cognitive ability of students when they were listening to their favorite genre of music, compared to no music at all. When listening to the music or not, students were given a number sequence, then prompted to recite the sequence backwards. Surprisingly, the students that were not provided music performed better than those listening to their favorite genre of music.

Based off of that evidence, I wanted to conduct the same experiment. I wrote my own two number sequences:

1-7-13-2-5-19, and 6-13-47-101-3-9.

I had three students, Tori Auckland, Karris Fazzi, and Madison Welsted, recite the first sequence to me without any music, and the second sequence with a song they like playing quietly, ensuring that they could still hear me. All but one was successful in reciting the first sequence, but with the second sequence, all of them failed.

Therefore, it must be that both Mrs. Jesse’s and Mr. Nebzydoski’s opinion with his research had been on the right track. But does that mean it’s necessarily true with every person? Not exactly. Personally, I find myself doing my academic work better when listening to my personal music, which consists of classic rock, rock, alternative, and some R&B, but it just depends.

In closing, music in class can be both beneficial and detrimental to students and their academics, for it just depends on the student.


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The Raider Reader staff is made up of students from Blue Ridge High School who are part of the school's journalism class. Students write, edit and produce the the news found at RaiderReader.Org.
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