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Advantages and Disadvantages of Listening to Music in Class

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 2780 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Allowing Music in Class

Listening to Music

 Not one day passes for anyone without listening to music being a facet of their lives whether impactful or not. It does not matter what or where, music can be heard everywhere from film scores, songs, the car radio, cultural traditions, Associated Student Body (ASB) occasionally during Monterey Trail High School’s lunches, as well as a simple pen beat. Starting with the phonograph with its limited usability, came record players then CDs and iPods. (“How Listening to Music Has Changed”). Especially in more modern times, the chances people will listen to music is even greater considering the larger expanse of technology and accessibility people now have as opposed to previously in the past. Now that technology has made listening to music even more accessible, comes whether it is beneficial to be listening to music during certain moments of class time. Even for people in the past, excluding the accessibility of technology, listening to music was still just as relevant to them as it is today albeit more so for other reasons. According to a researcher at MARCS Institute for Brain, Behavior and Development, Garrido and a professor at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Davidson, “The use of music to influence… the relationship between mood, affect and mood-regulation… were understood many centuries ago” (Garrido and Davidson 90). The use of listening to music ranges as far back as before electronic listening devices. Albeit the method in which people in modern times use to listen to music has advanced considerably since the past, it is more or less for the same reasons.  Knowing this, imagining a school day let alone a full day without listening to music is nearly impossible considering how accessible and enjoyed music is now. With that in mind, students should be allowed to listen to music during independent work time or any other time not during instructional periods of class instead of outright banning its usage altogether.

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 Music has had a varied amount of usages throughout time but the most important is the  effects it can induce on the mind. It “[can] reach us on intellectual, social, and emotional levels… can induce a psychological state… beyond words to describe” (Greenberg). As Professional Composers states it, “Music can make us happy, music can make us feel powerful, it can motivate us, inspire us, music can make us laugh or cry… if you remove the music from a movie, you lose almost all emotional impact” (Professional Composers). Similarly, in a classroom environment, if the music is removed and ambient noises such as other students chatting are all that can be heard, it serves as a serious distraction and deterrent to the level a student can perform at especially in a classroom environment, or any environment for that matter, that requires focus. Giving students the option to listen to their music allows for isolation from those very distractions or the tendency to chat with others.

Music is Not Allowed

 At Monterey Trail High School, almost everyone can be seen wearing some form of listening device from headphones to earbuds. However, the usage in class is a differs greatly. According to a survey on who likes listening to music in class, which 42 students took, all but 1 student agreed (98%) with the option of being able to listen to music in class (Quach). Albeit a very low quantity of people, considering the many that attend the school, took the survey, the results would be proportional to its current numbers. Based on the survey, it can be determined that there is a demand from students to be able to listen to music in class whether theirs or the class speakers during specific moments of class.

 Regarding why students like listening to music, they each have various reasonings for wanting music in class. First of all, in an interview with Davian Vang, a senior at Monterey Trail, he states that he does enjoy the company of music in class; however, only one of his classes this term allows for it. Listening to his music in class is a way for him to focus better on the task at hand (Vang). From another student’s view, BJ Daovongsa, another senior at Monterey Trail, states only 2 classes allow him to listen to music and his primary use for music in class is to release the boredom as well as entertain to pass the time (Daovongsa). In a school day, a student generally strides through the day taking 4 classes and based on the students previously mentioned, the majority if not half of their classes do not permit music despite them saying it would be an option they like in class.  The issue at hand comes when listening to music is not allowed in class during a time when music would normally be acceptable for use in some other classes at Monterey Trail High School. Generally, in the classes that do allow, it is during work time and not so much during instructional periods.  Despite this, a large amount of students all agree towards the same thing; the option to listen to music in class.

Results from students themselves or the survey regarding listening to music shows clearly what students would want but from a teacher’s perspective, may be different. In an interview with Ms. Nguyen, a social science teacher at Monterey Trail High School who did not allow using music, states allowing music is in order to let students focus during specific situations in class. Based on her observations as a teacher, allowing students listen their music has shown to benefit the student’s efficiency (Nguyen). In another interview with Mr. Strack, a math teacher at Monterey Trail High School who did allow using music, states that music in class is fine so long as it is only during appropriate times of the class period. For example, when a student is working rather than during a lecture or assessment. His thoughts regarding allowing the usage of music depends because some students do work efficiently but there are those who are in the zone of their music and slack off rather than focus on their work (Strack). Based on what teachers have stated, they are fine with allowing students listen to music because doing so has shown its merits overall. Disallowing music, as shown in the various results above, is one issue at Monterey Trail High School. Every student, according to the survey stated previously, does enjoy the company of music, however, the problem arrives when the class prohibits music.

Music Has Proven Benefits

  Considering the appeal to students and the actual results at Monterey Trail High School, they contrast. Also, music has already been proven by various studies and research to be beneficial on the mind. As Ashford University states it, “One of the first things that happens when music enters our brains is the triggering of pleasure centers that release dopamine, ” (Ashford). With the release of dopamine, it creates  “euphoric feelings of well-being, in addition to heightened arousal and attention… involved in motivation” (Neuroscience News). Music acts as fuel for the mind creating dopamine as a byproduct and it leads to several positive effects on the brain. The productivity and level the mind works at is affected because it is being “rewarded” by music which also gives some insight as to why so many students at Monterey Trail High School like to listen to music. The benefit of listening to music is evident based on Ms. Nguyen’s statement previously that allowing students listen to their music has shown to help students work efficiently. This is only one of many ways that music has beneficial outcomes on the student.

 Besides motivation from reward, the brain is also affected by stress levels which can build up especially in certain situations. For example, patients in the emergency room listening to relaxing music “reported significantly less pain, and significantly less distress, compared with patients who did not listen to music” (Novotney 46). The situation is different however the results are same. This is further shown in a study done by neuroscientists led by Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson in the United Kingdom. A stress inducing puzzle was used which resulted with a “65 percent reduction in participants overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates” (Curtin). Relaxing music is useful to calm the brain which in turn lowers stress levels as well as creating a more focused mind. Relating back to prohibited music, music has shown its merits to not only increase motivations but also decrease stress improving a student’s ability to do work.

 Furthermore, the other major benefit of music is their ability to focus. This benefit of listening to music coincides with why most students at Monterey Trail, according to the survey on whether they like listening to music in class. As stated earlier, music helps them focus and because of that, they enjoy its use in class when allowed. For instance, in a research project by Duna L. Strachan, a researcher at St. Catherine University, found that “focused behaviors averaged 23.3 occurrences/30 minute observation with background music, they averaged 9.1 occurrences/30 minutes without music” (Strachan 17). To elaborate, focused behaviors skyrocket over unfocused behaviors with background music playing in class, however, without music, the amount of unfocused behaviors are nearly as high as focused behaviors; unfocused and focused behaviors being: “looking around room, touching work unproductively, incomplete work cycle and staring without focus” and “looking at work, touching work purposefully, completed work cycle and staring with focus” respectively (Strachan 16-17). From these results, it can be shown having music playing benefits most students in their ability to focus on work and be less distracted. The significance of these results displays what type of benefit listening to music would create considering it is one of the reasons some students at Monterey Trail High School listen to music.

To Allow Music

 Considering many students enjoy using music yet so little of their classes at Monterey Trail allow it, goes to show what Monterey Trail High School should address. This issue is more in line with the classes that do not allow listening to music. As such, one solution that can be applied is to allow students to listen to their music during independent work time or when someone is not upfront speaking towards the class. Based on results from students themselves at Monterey Trail, many like the option of having their music in class. Every student has their own reason for wanting music such as focus or to stay awake. In addition to the students statements, there is a plethora of research done that proves the benefits of music on a student’s state of mind. Some being the attentiveness of the student, their ability to focus, or to tune out distractions.

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Another solution instead of having students play their music, is to play music from the classroom speakers (the teacher chooses). Also, in this case, not just any music should be played but classical or relaxing music. Classical music effects are evident based on a study done by Stanford School of Medicine in which the brain is most active during an event change of a song, particularly classical music (Baker). When listening to classical music, it is stated that the brain reaches peak attention when a specific moment of the song is heard. One example of this in use is at Logan Elementary School where playing classical music has been shown to improve student performance (White). Playing music in class has already been applied to another school and its results have shown positive. Although it is using elementary students, results should still be similar considering research completed by Stanford School of Medicine (as stated earlier) says attention is at its peak during certain points of classical music.


 Music is a large part of students livelihoods especially in more modern times. Almost everyone listens to music everyday and when looking at Monterey Trail High School, music is generally not allowed in most classes regardless of independent work or not. Especially knowing the potential benefits to students with playing music, it becomes apparent allowing students listen to music or at least playing music in class during non instructional or independent work times to be worthwhile.


What needs change is not necessarily teachers that already allow it but those that do not allow music in their class. Several research accomplished is already showing the positive benefits throughout several other results at other schools. Knowing this, giving students at Monterey Trail High School the freedom to listen to music during certain points of class will provide positive benefits to the students. Not only this but setting this plan in motion will not cost anything financially because it only needs a word to teachers telling them music in class will be beneficial to students considering it is used during appropriate times.

Works Cited

  • Ashford University Staff. “How Does Music Affect Your Brain?” Ashford University, 7 June 2017, www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/student-lifestyle/how-does-music-affect-your-brain. Accessed 24 Mar. 2019.
  • Baker, Mitzi. “Music Moves Brain to Pay Attention, Stanford Study Finds.” Stanford Medicine, Stanford Medicine Group, 1 Aug. 2007, med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2007/07/music-moves-brain-to-pay-attention-stanford-study-finds.html. Accessed 29 Apr. 2019.
  • Curtin, Melanie. “Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song Reduces Anxiety by Up to 65 Percent.” Inc.com, 30 May 2017, www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/neuroscience-says-listening-to-this-one-song-reduces-anxiety-by-up-to-65-percent.html. Accessed 7 May 2019.
  • Daovongsa, Bj. Interview. 9 Apr. 2019.
  • Garrido, Sandra, and Jane W. Davidson. “Music and Mood Regulation: A Historical Enquiry into Individual DIfferences and Musical Prescriptions through the Ages.” The Australian Journal of Music Therapy, vol. 24, Jan. 2013, pp. 89-109. ResearchGate, www.researchgate.net/publication/259440453_Music_and_mood_regulation_A_historical_enquiry_into_individual_differences_and_musical_prescriptions_through_the_ages. Accessed 25 Mar. 2019.
  • Greenberg, David M. “What Is Music…Exactly?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 3 Aug. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-music/201608/what-is-music-exactly. Accessed 25 Mar. 2019.
  • “How Listening to Music Has Changed.” BBC News, BBC, 21 Apr. 2014, www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/27101804. Accessed 5 May 2019.
  • Neuroscience News. “The Role of Dopamine in Motivation and Learning.” Neuroscience News, 24 Nov. 2015, neurosciencenews.com/dopamine-learning-reward-3157/. Accessed 7 Apr. 2019.
  • Nguyen, Lilly. Interview. 9 Apr. 2019.
  • Novotney, Amy. “Music as Medicine.” American Psychological Association, vol. 44, no. 10, Nov. 2013, p. 46, www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music. Accessed 24 Mar. 2019.
  • Quach, Jesse. “Music in Class.” Survey. 8 Apr. 2019.
  • Strachan, Duna L. “The Space Between the Notes: The Effects of Background Music on Student Focus.” SOPHIA, May 2015, pp. 1-31, sophia.stkate.edu/maed/118. Accessed 25 Mar. 2019.
  • Strack, Jonathan. Interview. 9 Apr. 2019.
  • Vang, Davian. Interview. 8 Apr. 2019.
  • “What Is Music?” YouTube, uploaded by Professional Composers, 31 Aug. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgj8kqCT5-s&feature=youtu.be. Accessed 25 Mar. 2019.
  • White, Kevin N. “The Effects of Background Music in the Classroom on the Productivity, Motivation, and Behavior of Fourth Grade Students.” ERIC, 2007, eric.ed.gov/?id=ED522618. Accessed 22 Mar. 2019.


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