Does music help you focus? Since we spend so much time in front of our computers trying to get our work done, wouldn’t it be nice to hear that music for concentration actually worked? Well, music lover, it seems Mozart or Beethoven could actually help your productivity. Beethoven once said: “Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.” And this relationship between music and the brain is an area that has been heavily explored in research. Many studies point to music’s ability to help employees be more productive and aid children in their learning process more effectively.

University research in France found that students who listened to a one-hour lecture where classical music was played in the background, scored significantly higher in a quiz on the lecture when compared to a similar group of students who heard the lecture with no music.  It seems music for concentration put students in a heightened emotional state, so that they were more receptive to the information. “It is possible that music, provoking a change in the learning environment, influenced the students’ motivation to remain focused during the lecture, which led to better performance on the multiple-choice quiz,” concluded the French research team in a published paper.

Read Related: Sounding Off: 10 Ways Music Affects How You Work


But before you begin to blast just any type of music, keep in mind that there’s music that’s suitable for the type of work you are trying to do. For instance, classical music from the Baroque period is said to work wonders on brain activity when you are studying or writing. But not all classical music is created equal, so that the dramatic twists and turns of complicated fugue might not be as conducive to concentrating as a soft piano piece. So if you had to choose a composer, we’d say Mozart; it seems that there is evidence that Mozart’s music improves mental performance: it’s called the “Mozart Effect.”


If classical music doesn’t float your boat, the unobtrusive tone found in ambient music might work for you instead. What is this music’s point you ask if you’re not in an airport? Well, for creativity purposes, it’s better than the emptiness of silence. According to one of its pioneers, the musician Brian Eno, “Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” In fact, researchers have shown that a moderate noise level, such as that found in ambient music, can really get creative juices flowing. Music with especially low-lows or especially high-highs should be avoided. Certain types of melodious, instrumental jazz pieces can also get your brain going.


In general, if you are doing work that requires writing, you should avoid listening to music with lyrics since words in a song are especially destructive to our focus. Since listening to words activates the language center of your brain, trying to engage in other language related tasks would be like trying to have a conversation while another person talks over you. But, if you’re an illustrator, and don’t deal with the construction of sentences, hearing lyrics might not have the same effect,  Lastly, studies show that it may be wiser to listen to music you are already familiar with if you really need to focus.  Since new music delves into the unknown, your brain will want to listen closely to see what comes next. With familiar music, you know what to expect, so it doesn’t distract you away from you work. And if you like the tune you are listening to, try not to whistle while you work that will only distract you.