Free the Earbuds
By: Emily Fleischmann
Songs are made up of two main elements: the tune and the lyrics. You may be thinking, “Well, that's obvious to anyone who has ever heard a song before,” and you may be right, for the most part. However, have you ever wondered how your subconscious mind reacts to a melody? Do the words you hear repeated by your favorite artist in a chorus stick with you? Although you may not register it while hearing a song during your shopping trip or listening to one blasting from the car radio, what you hear has an effect on your mental state, and in a classroom setting, how clear your headspace is can influence your success. To stay clear-minded in your learning environment, the key could be music.
The average student may use music as a tool to aid themselves in the classroom. When tasked with assignment after assignment, it can be easy to lose focus. A teenage high school student's attention span can only last so long before it breaks. Listening to music during class while working can create an upbeat, but a still productive, workspace. Music has the potential to help students by providing them with background noise, adding an extra element of entertainment to their class, helping them focus, reducing stress, and more.
It is important to keep in mind that many students struggle with disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, as well as a number of other conditions. It can be challenging to tolerate a disorder and the side effects that come with it. Students with such conditions are often more susceptible to distractions in the classroom which could place them at a disadvantage. By having music as an outlet to refocus, students can better cope with struggles relating to their ability to pay attention. It is important to acknowledge that not all students with disorders experience conflict in academic settings, however, many do, as highlighted by Faith Chung, a writer at Amherst College. In a peer-reviewed article she explains that “When someone experiences anxiety, he or she might feel restless and have difficulty staying on task and focusing — symptoms very similar to someone with ADHD and a short attention span” (Chung). Students here at Conard High School who experience these symptoms are tasked with completing their education while handling this additional level of difficulty.
Music’s Effect on the Brain
The solution to this issue is where music plays a role. According to pediatrician Kathi J. Kemper, as underscored in her book about mental health, “...[music] can be used to help enhance attention to ‘boring’ academic tasks such as memorization, using songs...to enhance the interest of the lists to be memorized” (Kemper). Listening to songs in class makes the process of completing activities more entertaining and less challenging. Finishing tasks to further your educational path can be a lot of hard work, but music can make this experience an enjoyable one.
Listening to music also ensures a better understanding of what's being taught in the classroom. This is further proven by Jenny Nam Yoon, a published author in Semantic Scholar who emphasizes that “researchers believe that children, who have more exposure to music...benefit from enhanced brain activity, which has been shown to increase students' abilities to perform on certain academic tasks” (Yoon). Permission to listen to songs in class goes a long way, as it has a constructive effect on mental processes and can help to improve one’s performance in school overall.
Not only does music influence your educational accomplishments, but it also raises happiness levels. With all the stress that school brings, it's crucial for students to have an activity that offers an opportunity for relaxation. Music fosters a feeling of contentment among students without undermining productivity in the classroom. Studies completed by The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center indicate that “...listening to music you enjoy may increase the release of pleasure-causing substances in the brain like norepinephrine and melatonin.” These releases are beneficial to students who experience more positive moods as a result of listening to music.
With all these advantages, how can we say no to listening to music in Conard High School’s classrooms? Most of us have heard the phrase “take out your earbuds” and “turn off your music” one too many times. Although some teachers may feel that music is a distraction, in reality, it is a catalyst for focus and relaxation. Music should be free of intense regulations at Conard High School.