When it comes to homework, are headphones helpful or hurtful?

The impact of music on school work


An RHS junior listens to music while working on an assignment for class.

Violet Resh, Staff Writer

Walking through the hallways of Rochester High School, it is a common sight to see students walking with headphones in their ears or the white cord wound up around their phones. When these students have the chance, they are listening to their music, tapping their feet as they work on their assignments.

This growing music movement has become a key part of teacher syllabi year after year.

“A couple of them allow us to listen to music while we’re working but some don’t allow phones at all,” senior Fatima Uddin said.

Several teachers see headphones as a major distraction. However, other teachers are more open to listening to music at particular times in class.

“For some students, I believe that listening to music improves their focus because it drowns out other distractions,” said English teacher Ms. Frisby. “It can allow students to get into ‘the zone’ while working without minor noise disruptions interrupting their thinking.”

Many students use music to tune out diversions and concentrate on their school work. Music is used as a medium for focusing on assignments and keeps students engaged.

“Sometimes when I don’t have motivation to do an assignment, I turn my headphones on and just start writing and so I can enjoy myself while trying to do some boring work,” Uddin said. 

While some students truly benefit from listening to music, others may not experience the same result.

“I have found some students struggle with focus when reading complex texts while listening to song lyrics,” Ms. Frisby said. “While other students get so caught up in listening to their favorite song that they lose their train of thought while writing.”

And some students feel the same way. When completing school work that entails reading difficult texts or writing long essays, listening to music can interfere such deep thinking.

“I do [listen to music while working] sometimes but it depends on the assignment,” said Uddin. “If it’s a short math worksheet then yes, but if I have to do hardcore studying then no.”

It also depends on what kind of music that students listen to. To some students, energetic and loud music might not be as helpful as calming instrumental music. On the other hand, when students do feel tired or overwhelmed, happy and energetic music may aid students in getting their work done and staying awake.

“If I want to be more focused then I’ll listen to something instrumental,” said Uddin.“But other times I just put on whatever.”

On another note, there are concerns about the possibility of cheating and listening to information through headphones while taking important assessments. It is for this reason that most all teachers don’t allow headphones or phones to be out at all during tests or examinations.

“I also think it is important that students not rely on music as the only strategy to aid with focus,” Frisby said. “So during tests they must practice a different method for maintaining focus.”