The Effects of Music on Productivity and Mood


Photo Courtesy of Olivia Cox ’24

You’re sitting down at your desk staring at the blank document in front of you. You know you have to get this assignment turned in, but you can’t focus. Your mind is thinking about a million different things. You put on your headphones and turn on your favorite tune. You bop your head to the beat and suddenly you feel productive and ready to take on your assignment. However, are you really more productive, or will science prove you wrong?

At some point in their lifetimes, everyone has found it difficult to sit down and get work done, especially for students in a distance learning environment who have work from home. Having music playing in the background can help put students in the mood to be productive. How can a student figure out what music would be best? Although there are many types of music from which to choose, some may distract rather than encourage productivity.

The National Library of Medicine published a study about the effects of background music. It showed that whether or not lyrics are present in music can have different effects on productivity and concentration. Songs with lyrics had a negative impact on the attention of the people in the study, but music without lyrics had the opposite effect.

Different genres of music have different effects on people. For example, music with a downtempo like jazz most often has a soothing and calming effect. Uptempo music like pop or rock can increase performance but can also cause distractions. However, each person’s brain is different and therefore reacts uniquely. 

Photo Courtesy of Olivia Cox ’24

In another study published by the National Library of Medicine, scientists researched the way the brain reacts to music and the emotions music elicits. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) they were able to recognize the changes in the brain when the tempo or mode of the music changed. The manipulation of the tempo and mode of the music resulted in variations of the brain’s chemicals related to happiness and sadness. The neocortical brain structures, the brain structure that intercedes with emotion processing, also had a reaction to the change in tempo and mode. This study displays how moods tend to reflect the mode and tempo of the music. 

Not only can music stimulate emotions and improve productivity, music can also motivate and influence the mind, body, and soul. The next time you are having trouble concentrating or are in a bad mood, put on your playlist and let the music take control.