Can Classical Music Reduce Anxiety? We Investigate

Does Listening to Classical Music Help You Study?

Can Classical Music Reduce Anxiety? We Investigate

If studying for an exam is the last thing you want to do, put in your headphones and turn up the classical music for some encouragement. There have been many studies testing whether or not it’s beneficial to listen to classical music when studying, and though some are inconclusive, there’s a lot of evidence pointing toward its helpfulness.

How Is Classical Music Helpful?

There are seven ways in which classical music can be helpful when it’s time to hit the books, so next time you’re dreading a study session, consider the following:

  • Refined Productivity – A study by the American Roentgen Ray Society concluded that baroque classical music improved productivity among eight individuals.
  • Heightened Happiness – Studying while being upset or stressed doesn’t lead to the best results. You can increase happiness by listening to classical music, according to a study published in 2013.
  • Increased Brain Capacity – Researchers in France discovered that individuals who had classical music playing in the background of a one-hour lecture received higher scores than individuals who listened to the same lecture without music.
  • Stress Relief – A study led by Professor Chung-Hey Chen concluded that participants had lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression when the study was completed.
  • Memory Improvement – Pieces by Mozart were specifically used in a study that revealed increased brain wave activity in a particular area of the brain that is linked to memory.
  • Decreased Blood Pressure – A study conducted by the Department of Psychology at the University of California suggests a decrease in blood pressure in those subjects who listened to classical music.
  • Improved Creativity –Also specific to music by Mozart, classical pieces were shown to enhance creativity more than silence alone in a study inspired by the “Mozart effect.”

As you can see, there are so many benefits of listening to classical music while you study. Whether you are interested in being more productive, lessening stress or improving creativity, learn to enjoy your studies with something that will lighten the mood.

What Songs Should You Listen to While Studying?

When you’re trying to find the perfect songs to listen to, it might get overwhelming because there are a lot of classical musicians and many of those artists have published multiple pieces.

Do a little research to find out which music is best. For example, composers such as Strauss, Handel, Brahms, and Bach often slow the brainwaves because of their tonal patterns and rhythms.

While this could help you relax before you study, it might make you also fall asleep.

Mozart was mentioned in a few studies previously discussed. The dynamic way in which he arranged his songs helps improve memory and creativity. If memory is your problem, Mozart might be the solution.

Keep in mind that you are not a science project. You don’t have to listen to music only by famous composers.

If you find a piece of classical music that elevates your mood, relieves stress, and allows you to focus on your studies, put it on repeat.

What Happens to Your Brain While Listening to Classical Music?

Many previously mentioned studies are inconclusive on precisely what happens to the brain while listening to classical music. What seems to be unanimous across the board is that it increases dopamine levels, giving the listener a rush of energy, and a natural high to pull from while studying.

Visit Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Even if you’re not cramming for an exam this weekend, the benefits of classical music are worth experiencing in your everyday life. Visit Dallas Symphony Orchestra today to help yourself wind down, focus and feel happier. For ticket information, contact us at 214-849-4376.

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Can Classical Music Help You Study?

Can Classical Music Reduce Anxiety? We Investigate

Though the weather may not have reflected it, last week was the beginning of spring. Many of us have ly been looking forward to the changing of seasons in hopes of sunnier, warmer, and longer days – but for college and high school students, spring brings one last hurdle to overcome before summer: final exams.

As students search for studying tools, this question often arises: can listening to classical music help you focus and absorb information? The truth is, there may be no single right answer to that question.

There are varying perspectives when it comes to scientific research, and ultimately much of the issue comes down to personal preference. Here, we’ll unpack what we do know, and let you decide for yourself.

Classical music elevates mood

The Mozart Effect, the theory that listening to Mozart actually raises IQ and improves cognitive abilities, came about after a 1993 study but has been largely discounted in the last several years.

Researchers have suggested that the results which lead to this theory are actually a consequence of a more widely accepted phenomenon – that classical music improves your mood.

Research shows that listening to music can raise dopamine levels, and multiple studies have found that listening to classical music can be a valuable tool in treating depression. So, listening to classical music while you study won’t literally make you smarter, but you’ll feel better while doing it.

Classical music may help you focus

This is one that ly varies from one individual to the next. One study did show that students who listened to a one-hour lecture with classical music playing in the background retained more of the information than a group who heard the lecture with no music.

This may be due to the heightened emotional state that can result from listening to music, making one more receptive to information. Perhaps the music simply drowns out other outside noise and potential distractions, allowing students to focus more on the material.

However, some classical music fans find the opposite – that the music is too compelling to fade into the background and ends up distracting from the task at hand.

Taking a break can help your productivity in the long run

If you are someone who doesn’t find that listening to classical music during your cramming session is helpful, not to worry! Studies show that taking short breaks throughout a task can actually increase your productivity and focus over a prolonged period. If you can’t or don’t to have music on in the background while you’re studying, take a 5-minute break every half an hour or so to listen to a piece: get the benefits of an elevated mood, and refresh your mind for another round of hitting the books.

Which pieces should you choose?

Whether you’re listening to it in the background or on a break, certain types of classical works are more conducive to studying than others. Classical KUSC Los Angeles host and producer Alan Chapman suggests skipping large orchestral pieces with a dynamic range in volumes. In this case, solo piano pieces, string quartets, and guitar or lute music may be the way to go.

We hope that, armed with this information, you can incorporate music in the way that best works for you. Happy studying!


10 Wondrous Things That Happen to Your Body When You Listen to Classical Music

Can Classical Music Reduce Anxiety? We Investigate
Nicole Fornabaio/, iStock/sntpzh

Classical music does your body good—specifically, your heart.

In a study published in the journal Deutsches Aerzteblatt International in 2016, researchers compared the effect of the music of Mozart and Strauss with that of ABBA on issues related to heart health.

The result: Those who listened to Mozart and Strauss had markedly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as lower heart rates. ABBA’s tunes, on the other hand, didn’t produce the same effects. 

Why might this happen? “It is the emphasis of listening to the harmonies and rhythms of classical music that may provide a calming effect for people, thus helping to lower their blood pressure,” explains Michael Schneck, MD, a neurologist with Loyola Medicine in Chicago. “This could occur with classical music or jazz music, along with taking your blood pressure medication as prescribed from your provider.” Here are some other surprising things doctors might not tell you about healthy blood pressure.

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One study published in PLOS ONE in 2016 found that opera can produce a thoughtful, empathetic response in people, while an earlier study from 2001 found that people who listened to classical music were more willing to share personal information about themselves in writing.

Catherine Jackson, a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified neurotherapist based in Chicago, has noticed a similar effect during neurotherapy sessions when she plays light or classical music while patients engage in deep breathing.

“Some patients who typically have a hard time sharing or discussing emotional content are better able to open up and share,” she says, adding that music may help relax people enough to open up about painful issues.

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Classical music may be an easy, inexpensive remedy for restless snoozers.

One study published in the journal Critical Care in 2015 found that classical music, combined with earplugs and eye masks, induced sleep in patients recovering from cardiac surgery, while an earlier study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing in 2008 found that students with sleep disorders slept better when they fell asleep to classical music. Why does classical music work better than other types of music? “While it can still be beneficial to the brain, popular music, music with words, and music with upbeat tempos can require your brain to multitask, and as the brain actively responds to the music, it may be difficult to fully focus on sleep or any other task,” says Jackson. “Most classical music has a slow tempo and is soothing, making it great to prepare your brain and body for sleep.” Try music that has a regular rhythm, low pitches, and tranquil melodies. If you still wake up exhausted after a full night’s sleep, it may be a sign that you're not sleeping deeply enough.

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Saying goodbye to pain could be as easy as cueing up your playlist. Numerous studies have found that music can provide pain relief, but classical music may provide extra benefits.

According to research published in the International Journal of Critical Illness and Injury Science in 2012, intensive-care patients suffering from pain, as well as anxiety, depression, cardiovascular issues, and sleep disturbances, can benefit the most from classical music.

Even infants can get in on the analgesic action: A study published in Early Human Development in 2018, which looked at 80 full-term newborns in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Italy who underwent painful procedures (such as heel pricks and antibiotic injections), found that classical music—specifically Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”—reduced the infants’ perception of pain, as well as decreased their heart rates, improved oxygen saturation, and led to a quicker post-stress recovery. The researchers believe those two songs are similar to lullabies, “rich in harmonics and medium-low frequencies, with a regular rhythm.”

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This claim has garnered some controversy in recent years, and while music may not boost your IQ, there does seem to be a link between music and cognition. “Some claims about music making people smarter have been debunked, Baby Einstein and the Mozart Effect,” says Jackson.

“However, when we listen to music we enjoy, classical or otherwise, it makes us feel more joyful and that helps improve cognition. Put simply, music impacts how we feel, which in turn impacts how we perform on cognitive tasks.

” She adds that a happy brain is a healthy brain and that music, especially music that evokes positive memories, can help to increase dopamine and neuroconnectivity, keeping the aging brain healthier.

While more research is needed, she says, the connection between music and cognition is meaningful, though perhaps different than originally believed. 

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Next time you need to study for a big test or presentation, make Beethoven your companion.

In a study published in Learning and Individual Differences in 2012, one group of students listened to a one-hour lecture where classical music was played in the background, and the other group heard the lecture with no music.

Those in the first group scored significantly higher on a quiz than the second group. Researchers believe that the music made students more receptive to the information, allowing them to store and recall it more efficiently.

But if you really want to boost your brainpower, adds Dr. Schneck, don't just stop at listening to classical music. “Music lessons and practice of any sort, particularly in classical music, may also contribute to improved brain plasticity and neural-network development, which can enhance learning and memory,” he says. Check out these daily habits of people with good memories.

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If you can’t seem to turn off your brain, you may want to turn on some music. “Some research finds that music can be used as a relaxation technique that can cause the heart rate to slow down and help relieve stress by lowering the breathing rate and emotional distress,” says Dr.

Schneck. “Studies are finding this may lower cortisol levels to help [lessen] anxiety.

” One such study, published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2018, looked at 180 preoperative patients and found that listening to natural sounds, classical Turkish, or Western music all reduced anxiety by lowering cortisol levels, as well as blood pressure and heart rate. While all of the music had a positive effect, the classical Turkish music was found to be the most effective. Check out these other home remedies for natural anxiety relief.

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Harmony with others could start with the harmony in music, according to new research. A study published in the journal Aging & Mental Health in 2014 found that among those with dementia, music served as a tool to feel connected to others because the subjects could listen to and discuss the music together.

Family members connected to the study also acknowledged the communal aspects of musical connectedness, whether it was through singing songs together, participating in music therapy sessions, or listening to a visiting violinist.

So turn on the radio, or plop down at the piano and invite others to enjoy the music with you; the notes could go a long way in bringing you closer.

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“Research suggests that listening to music helps make repetitive tasks easier and is why it is sometimes recommended to listen to music at work or while completing chores at home,” says Jackson. “However, its effects on task performance depend on the music, the task, and the person.

” That was illustrated in a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied in 2019, which found that a person’s “boredom proneness” and the complexity of the task correlated with whether or not music—classical or otherwise—contributed to productivity.

 Don't miss these almost effortless ways to be more productive.

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You don’t have to pay for a pricey spa or massage to reap the benefits of a little rest and relaxation. Listening to classical music can trigger even more physiological benefits than decreasing cortisol levels and lowering blood pressure.

Jackson says that it can also increase the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain, which can reduce stress and, as a result, help you feel more relaxed. Plus, she adds, “When we listen to music, our mood improves, and we feel happier.

” Check out these breathing exercises that can help you relax in minutes.


Medically reviewed by Renata Chalfin, MD, on October 18, 2019

Originally Published:July 25, 2016

Originally Published in Reader's Digest