our everyday life

Does Music Help Teens Get Good Grades in School?

by Leyla Norman, studioD

Music sets the tempo and tone of your teenager’s life, probably as it did yours at that age. Music is more than just a way to get the party going or to tune out parents, however. Music has been shown to help students get better grades in school. It doesn’t necessarily make teens smarter, but it can help teens develop the intellect they have to its fullest potential. Students who study with certain kinds of music playing can develop better study skills, and this can lead to better grades.

Grades and Study Skills

A 2009 BBC website article details studies conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Australian Music Association. Stanford’s research indicates that music excites parts of the brain dealing with attention, updating an event in memory and making predictions. The time between songs was when the brain was most active. Additionally, the research demonstrates that 200-year-old composers used musical techniques that can help the brain categorize and make sense of information. The Australian Musical Association found that music can help improve students’ reasoning capacity and ability to solve problems, memory, math and language scores, as well as team and social skills.

Music Lessons

Music does not necessarily make a teen smarter, but it can help him to fully use the brain it has. In the May 2006 issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology, researcher E. Glenn Schellenberg, Ph.D., found that music lessons can help boost kids’ IQ and academic performance. The longer a child has music lessons, the greater the boost. College freshmen participants took an IQ test and provided their high school grade point averages. They answered questions about how long they had studied music and played an instrument. Schellenberg found the freshmen had a two point increase in their IQ if they had played music consistently for six years as a child. The study found that, in general, music lessons during childhood correlated strongly with a higher IQ and better high school grades.

Attention to Self

Joseph Cardillo, a research psychologist specializing in mind-body medicine, says that when your teen is working on something, what he pays attention to plays a large role in determining what he thinks, how he feels and how he will act. The right kind of music also affects his motivation and helps him decide what his goals are and how to get there. If your teen knows how he feels, whether it is energized or relaxed, scattered or focused, he can make better choices about the type of music to listen to while he studies. Your teen can get into the right mindset to accomplish his studying and working goals by creating a playlist that sets the tone for it. For example, if he is feeling kind of relaxed, but he needs energy to work on an assignment, an upbeat tune can do the trick. The opposite is true if he needs to calm down a bit.

Choosing Songs

Songs with lyrics or distracting beats can be detrimental for many teens. In the end, it is up to your teen to decide whether he concentrates better with instrumentals, lyrical music or no music at all. Associate professor of music James Chesebrough, cited in The Equinox, states that it is best to choose a song that is not too repetitive or unexpected to achieve the best concentration.

About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images