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Do you read and listen to music at the same time? Good or bad habit?

Many students (not only students) like to turn on music when they read.  Some say, when they read and listen to music, it helps them associate the content of the book with the music; for some, it creates an inspiring environment and others love that background sound to keep focused.

I was also guilty of this while in school. I made myself to believe a steady flow occurs playing a soft music in the background while reading. A part of me wants to admit it’s not the best thing to do, while the other more dominant part feels it kind of genius.

A lot of students are guilty of this, and would want to disagree that it’s not the best for them. But seriously this is a bad habit.

read and listen to music
Image Credit: gruppj.wordpress.com

If this is not, you may feel like, ‘why would any sane person want to allow noise and distraction while reading’, but you are not as innocent of this ‘crime’ as the rest of us. If you suddenly wonder away in thoughts while reading, and can’t even remember the content of the last paragraph, you commit the same ‘self-crime’ of ‘multitasking’.

Everyone around you at almost every instance is multitasking; answering phone calls while driving or walking the street, telling a lie and keeping away the truth (it takes multitasking too), surfing the web (this is where we over do it; worth a discussion on its own) and so on.

Some of us even quote multitasking on our resume as a personal skill. It feels cool to be able to do more than one thing at the same time. If we could, we would also want to be ‘multi-present’ (be at different places at the same time).

According to some neuroscientists, no matter how good our intentions, we may not be as good at multitasking as we may think. One explanation reveals why the human brain can only manage two tasks at once.

  1. When the brain is faced with two tasks, the medial prefrontal cortex divides in two so each half can focus on one task.
  2. The anterior-most part of the frontal lobes enables the switch between two goals.
  3. When a third task comes into play, it’s too much for the brain to handle at once. Consequently, accuracy drops considerably.

To Read and listen to music  would appear as a more severe habit than the previous examples, especially for students. Apart from the lack of total concentration, there are several reasons why you should do nothing else while reading to gain full concentration and understanding of the content you are consuming. Can you read and answer the phone at the same time?

Even when you can read while listening to music, your speed and rate of comprehension will definitely reduce. Your level of concentration will never match your reading-only mode. You have problem with memorizing the content of the material.

According to a study that demonstrates a reduced capacity to recall memories when listening and studying, Russell Poldrack, UCLA associate professor of psychology and co-author of the study states:

“Multi-tasking adversely affects how you learn. Even if you learn while multitasking, that learning is less flexible and more specialized, so you cannot retrieve the information as easily. The best thing you can do to improve your memory is to pay attention to the things you want to remember…”

When distractions force you to pay attention to what you are doing, you don’t learn as well as if you had paid full attention..”

Our results suggested that learning facts and concepts will be worse if you learn them while you’re distracted”

The research concluded, that they are not saying never to multitask, just don’t multitask (listen to music, watch TV, answer a phone call) while you are trying to learn something new you hope to remember.

Are you an exception or do you think it’s cool to read and listen at a time or not?

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14 Comments
  1. Elijah says

    Yea its not rite 2 play or listing 2 music while reading cus it brings distraction and it makes you carried away and you lost concentration .

  2. thanks for the post. It is very educating.

  3. Tariku says

    excellent idea!some one who chases two things cannot catch anything.

  4. Precious Ayara says

    Wow, I think I stop the habit of reading and listening to music at the same time.

    1. Onyeka Evans says

      It better u do 1 of it music or reading.not the two at d same time?

  5. Bidemi says

    I do it, not all the time though, but at times it helps to kick-start reading process; depending on the love for particular tunes. Once i get deep into the reading, i don’t even know when the tracks change, so far they are all selected songs i like. If it works for you…NO QUALMS! Cheers!

  6. Toni Gillespie says

    yupp def going to stop cause I'm always distracted by something.

    1. Patrick Lawson says

      Toni you're always distracted lol.

  7. tunde says

    i luv music while reading only when am not trying to assimilate but just working through my maths

  8. Tito Kaira says

    Cool, it equally does not work well for me, only task at a time. Good stuff there…

  9. James Obi Obi-Assam says

    Most times its a distraction…'specially when you really know the song playing. You're likely gon concentrate on the song!

  10. It good to do Music and reading together @times, it rouses ya brain to withstand for long… it all depends on you brain capacity.

  11. Ayeni Ekundayo David says

    This is a good tip 2 readin habit but at time readin and playin music in d background depend on d state of mind.

    1. Mayowa Olayemi says

      IT DEPENDS ON INDIVIDUL'S UNDERSTANDING. 2 SOME, THEY CANNOT READ WITHOUT MUSIC WHILE SOME WILL NOT COMPREHEND WHEN MUSIC IS ON, AND SOME WILL READ & COMPREHEND WITH OR WITHOUT MUSIC. BUT ONE MUST UNDERSTAND HIM/HERSELF IN WHICHEVER CASE.

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