Music in the classroom: A useful learning tool or a hindrance?

Freshman Yulee Kang listens to music as she completes her work in class.

Freshman Yulee Kang listens to music as she completes her work in class.

Gabriel Ascoli and Ayush Das

Old Town Road by Lil Nas X is playing in an otherwise silent room. To the right, a student puts on their headphones and turns on their Spotify playlist. To the left, two students are sharing airpods and watching a music video. Music has made its way into the school environment, but is it helping students or hurting them?

Implementing music in a classroom can be as simple as finding the right music and pressing play on your device.

“I don’t like the sound of silence,” english teacher and publications advisor Erinn Harris said. “My mind tends to wander when there’s no noise, whether it’s the TV or music or whatever. For me personally, when there’s music playing, it helps me concentrate and focus.”

Although music might improve student engagement and learning, some teachers consider music to be a disturbance.

“I think for some people [music] can be [distracting],” energy systems and robotics teacher Jared Seyler said. “Sometimes they either get way too into it, or if you’re trying to pick apart everything about the music that can be distracting,” 

Furthermore, Harris believes that some genres of music help better than others.

“If the music is super high energy or really yelling, screaming death metal sort of stuff, then that can be a distraction,” Harris said.

In the same way, students believe that music helps more with certain types of work. 

“I believe [music] helps with certain studies,” sophomore Gavin Cramer said. “With reading, no, because it distracts you, but with things like math or other types of busy work, it helps me stay focused.”

When stress levels are high, people are unable to make intelligent, well thought out decisions. Music has been shown to lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone. 

“[Music] helps me focus and concentrate,” freshman Katherine Lin said. Lin frequently uses her airpods in class while doing classwork or homework. “[When listening to music] I don’t focus on the outside world.”

Most Students do not seem to be bothered by music playing in the classroom.

“I have never gotten complaints from anyone that has said, ‘please stop playing music, it distracts me’,” Harris said.

Listening to music is popular at Jefferson, and many teachers and students are advocating for it as a learning tool in the classroom.

“If it’s something you enjoy, and you can kind of drown out in the background, it’s really easy to kind of get lost in what you’re doing. And so I think it helps,” Seyler said.