Column: Stop the music
Nov. 08, 2011
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
With second rounds of tests out of the way and finals coming up in about a month, I've come up with the greatest foolproof studying strategy since Adderall, minus the health risks.
Between reading notes and filling out exam reviews, I've decided to listen to audio recordings of random 3- to 6-minute speeches and memorize them.
For several hours a day, I'm going to listen to as many of these speeches as I can and imprint them on my brain, all while attempting to retain as much information as possible about the tests on my plate at the end of this week.
In fact, I bet a lot of you are doing the same thing right now, memorizing the newest speeches by Coldplay while studying for your economics exam, or reciting the entirety of Justin Bieber’s "Under the Mistletoe" while working on college algebra.
Get it yet?
That’s right, music: the new silence. Reading, writing and studying all used to be accompanied by silent libraries and annoying shushing librarians.
But now, many of us decide to forego the quiet of our fellow students and jam pieces of plastic into our ears to hear the latest from Drake, Lil Wayne and “Glee.”
For the most part, I’ve been a music-studier — calculus and Common, reading and Rihanna, alliteration and Atmosphere. But sometimes I’m not so sure if it’s really helping me.
My AP Calculus teacher in high school once tapped me on the shoulder when I was working out a differential equation to some Nickelback (lol jk) to ask me how I was even able to concentrate while listening to music.
I told her it was easy. I would put one song on repeat and adjust to it as I worked, and it made it easy to focus.
She wasn’t convinced. She showed me a study she found (which I unfortunately haven’t been able to track down. Thanks, Internet) that suggested listening to music had detrimental effects on the short-term memory retention of whatever was being studied.
I found this hard to believe, since I did the majority of my homework while listening to music, or watching TV, or both, and had straight A’s throughout high school.
But just thinking about the study and suffering from severe boredom with my study routines (no surprise there) raises a question as to whether music has any value or detriment to studying.
We’ve all heard the arguments that classical music and movie scores can have positive effects on concentration and memory retention, and we all have our own personal study sounds or lack thereof, which we obviously claim are the most effective, but why has music become so commonly associated with studying, or everything else in general?
Why must I listen to music at the Rec Center if I want to bench press? How am I supposed to count my reps, or even continue breathing, when my ears are being subjected to the likes of Creed, Hinder or tallying the number of times that God-awful Sheryl Crow Homecoming plug comes on?
If I can train my brain to work well and focus to a certain song or playlist, why can’t I do the same with silence or background noise?
Why do classical music and movie scores help us memorize things better than other forms of music? Is it because some study told us that? What if a new study said the best study playlist consisted of Eminem and Barry Manilow? What then?
More realistically, what if my iPod dies and I have to endure an unexpected lack of entertainment, one of our most devastating first world problems?
Maybe it’d be the perfect opportunity to see if studying in silence would actually do me some good, or at least leave me fewer headaches at the end of the day.