The new year has only just begun and Spotify is already suggesting fresh playlists. According to the Spotify annual review, the “Your Mix of the Week” playlist alone has been streamed more than nine billion times. Some particularly like to be sonicated if they have to learn for exams or write housework.

Science Disagrees

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is less clear than one would like. The Mozart effect discovered in 1993, that listening to classical music had a positive effect on cognitive performance, could neither be fully substantiated nor reproduced. However, recent studies suggest that music can have a positive effect on concentration, mood and memory. Students who like music also write the better grades. But if you don’t want to follow the nice confirmation bias, you will of course also find it.

But Music Still Helps

Although the link between listening to music and cognitive performance is not entirely clear, some benefits cannot be dismissed. Especially not when you think of the real world.

Music helps us to isolate ourselves from the outside world. It is often difficult to perform when all sorts of people are talking around you and you are exposed to different other sounds. Even if silence would be ideal, it is often not so easy to find it. In this case, you replace the unpleasant and disturbing sounds with musical sounds and it is easier to concentrate.


Music can motivate us. Every now and then you just don’t make it to the top. But what works in the gym works at the desk. A good playlist and the boring text or the endless exercise sheet aren’t that bad anymore.

We are in a better mood when we listen to music. Good music makes you feel good. This effect can of course be used wonderfully to approach the tasks ahead with a little more pleasure. Especially when learning it is also important not to be in a bad mood, because the brain learns the emotions. Let’s face it, the last thing you can use in a exam is an additional bad mood.

Many people also feel that music helps them to be more receptive and creative. This also makes sense, because more senses are addressed than would be the case without music and sounds. Especially when learning, however, it must be clear that music increases the cognitive load, since it has to be processed by the brain.

What, Where and How?

So it’s up to you to try whether you want to be sonicated while learning, working or writing the next housework.

Science also argues about the perfect way of music. It’s really clear that the music shouldn’t distract you too much. Text-heavy songs are therefore perhaps less suitable than classical music or some good electric tracks. But the most important thing is that the music should be motivating and spread a good mood.

There are plenty of offers that go beyond your own music collection. Everyone knows Spotify, you can discover good new playlists on 8tracks, Get Work Done Music promises productivity-enhancing sounds and Brain.fm even offers a neuroscience-curated song selection.

Finally, of course, you should listen to your music in such a way that others ideally don’t notice it.