Ever since I was in high school, I’d periodically heard about the latest study that proved or disproved that listening to music helped with productivity and therefore would help you study better. Mozart was the popular composer of the day (I’m not as old as Mozart, I just mean he was the most popular suggestion to make you smarter). But overall, I find I can’t listen to music while working.
For starters, I’m a dancer. Not professionally, of course, and I stopped regular training over 15 years ago. But as I recently discussed with someone on Twitter (if you can call two exchanges a discussion), once a dancer, always a dancer. I still tap dance waiting for my kids at the bus. (I try to tap discreetly – I don’t slide down the pavement, for example.) And if you could peer through the photocopier room door, you’d see me doing a few steps while I wait for the machine to do it’s job. (Although sometimes I wouldn’t mind tapping on it like Fred Astaire does in this clip, when the photocopier doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. But I wouldn’t be as nice as he is at the beginning.) I am very proud, though, of breaking one annoying habit: walking to the beat of the music of every store I walk by in a mall.
Music speaks to my body in a very strong way. When I hear music with a good beat, my hands become my feet and I’m tapping at my desk. Give me one of my geeky favourites (bring on the 80s or The Monkees), and I’m singing with my untrained voice. Writing? What writing?
I found a legitimate study (from The Psychology of Music, published in 2011) that looked at a handful of university students. The authors reported that listening to preferred music or no music made no different. The only time listening to music appeared to make a difference was when the study participant didn’t like the music.
So, what about you? Do you like to create while listening to music? Or is silence your preferred partner?