Nix nix on listening to music while reading

This article shows clearly why and when listening to music interferes with learning, particularly reading.

“For instance, in this study, adults who read in silence scored more than 20% higher on a quiz about that reading passage than others who listened to music with lyrics.”

I generally don’t allow students to listen to music while reading; my explanation has been that the music will interfere with their ability to discern the musicality of language, which I want them to become adept at hearing. (That explanation may be completely bunk, but I’m sticking with it for now. I’ll also tell them about the above research information.)

Sometimes I play music in the classroom during project work time; it seems to create a calming effect and serves to even out the auditory spikes that inevitably happen when one group is animatedly discussing a point.

If I play music in the classroom during project work time here’s what I’ll do:

• Choose long-playing songs (the break between songs and the introduction of a new song breaks our line of thought)

• No lyrics –“An irrelevant auditory signal may impair sublexical processing of low-frequency words during first-pass reading.” That means that if my students are working on a poetry chapbook project, and they’re trying to decide between two poems, they will likely be less adept at understanding strange words if I have lyrics playing in the background.

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