How music can help you succeed at school

Hayden Coker (left) and Dylan Coker (right) say listening to music helps them with their school work. Photo credit: Aidan Cowling-Mcdonnell

Some students deal with stress by eating or exercising but for Dylan and Hayden Coker, music is what helps them succeed in school.

Dylan, 18, and Hayden, 19, are in the Police Foundations program at Durham College.

Dylan has tried to watch YouTube videos and work in complete silence when doing his assignments, but he struggled to complete his school work without having his music playing. He says something about putting his headphones on and tuning out the world really allows the first-year student to be productive.

“I find music keeps me concentrated when I’m doing assignments. When I’m using music, it keeps me concentrated enough where I can just sit and work, get my documents done,” said Dylan. “I just find it keeps me on task.”

Hayden also has a hard time focusing on his assignments without listening to music. Hayden is in his second year and he feels music is the one thing that allows him to get things done.

“I usually just listen to music to motivate myself, most of the time because I never really want to do my work, but if I put on some banging music, I’m able to get going. “he said. “When I’m stressed, I’ll listen to some nice relaxing music and it helps me clear my mind, and then I’ll concentrate easier.”

Both brothers say that their favourite genre of music is hip-hop and that music with lyrics doesn’t distract them, it helps them concentrate even more.

There’s a good reason music helps them concentrate, according to experts.

Amy Clements-Cortes, a neurologic music therapist at the University of Toronto, said music has been proven to relieve stress and reduce anxiety. She added there is no genre of music that works better than another.

“I think that the most important thing is that it’s client-preferred,” she said. “I know people that find heavy metal relaxing and helps them focus, whereas if they were to listen to something classical it would annoy them because they don’t appreciate that kind of music.”

Music gives the human body a high, releases our ‘happy’ hormones, and is processed differently by the brain than most things in life, according to Clements-Cortes.

“We know that music is processed in all areas of the brain, so it’s complicated and we value music even though it’s not something we need for survival like food or water,” she said. “But, even now you can see on social media how important music is to people.”

The benefits of listening to music are backed up by many studies that show the positive effects it has on the human body.

According to a study from the University of Nevada-Reno, music with a speed of around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to release brainwaves at the same rhythm as the beat of the song. These brainwaves are known as alpha brainwaves, which appear when people are conscious and relaxed.

In a study from Queen’s University in Kingston, the ‘50/10’ rule has been proven to make students less stressed and more productive in school. The study suggests that students should listen to music for 50 minutes while working, then taking a 10-minute break and repeat this cycle until they finish whatever they are working on. The study also suggests putting on sounds such as waves or the jungle in the background while working.

So, if you’re stuck with piles of schoolwork and don’t know what to do, plug in your headphones, listen to your favourite playlist, and try to escape from reality while you hit the books.

Take it from Dylan and Hayden that it works.