Music Has A Place In The School Ecosystem

Results from the student music survey.

Results from the student music survey.

Brendan Conley, Contributor

Music has a place in the school ecosystem, more specifically in the classroom. I see students all the time with earbuds in or headphones on, I assume with their favorite tunes on full blast. I see it in the hallways, but also during class. I find myself constantly seeming to have earbuds or headphones in while I work or in-between classes. But, I started wondering whether or not all of this music serves more as a distraction than anything else, and if we really should allow students to have music in school. I’m here to tell you that I do believe the answer is yes, music most certainly has a place in school.

According to this article published by HealthLine.com, listening to music comes with multiple benefits related to productivity such as increasing somebody’s motivation, concentration and brain stimulation. I decided to run a poll for myself here at Bellows Free Academy, which received 114 responses at the time of writing this, and for students can still be answered here. One of the questions in the poll asked students whether or not music seemed to increase their focus when working on school assignments. A total of 71 students answered that listening to music significantly improved their focus, and 23 students saw only some improvement. Only four students answered that music was a distraction for them, and three of the four said they could still do their work with the added distraction. These results show that the majority of students who responded to the survey experience increased productivity while listening to music. I can also say that I fit into the majority. In fact, during the writing of this article I am currently listening to music.

Therefore, music is beneficial for the majority of students when working on schoolwork, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has a place in our classrooms, does it? Thinking about it from an outside view, one could say that listening to music in class might not be a distraction for the student in question, but it could be for other students. Also, realistically speaking, a student is unable to listen to their teacher talk while listening to music. I would like to address the first point. Music can really only serve as a distraction for others if others can hear the music. If the student were to listen to music through their phone speakers, it would obviously disrupt the class quite a bit; however, any sensible student will use headphones or earbuds, and while it is true that if the volume is high enough it can still be heard, it is easy enough to adjust the volume that it shouldn’t be a problem.

Just in case this wasn’t enough to convince the common skeptical parent/teacher, I asked (in my aforementioned poll) whether or not other students listening to music in class could still be a distraction to others even if you couldn’t hear their music. The results showed that not a single one of the 114 students answered that this causes a major distraction; in fact, more than 90% of responses stated that it wasn’t a distraction at all.

As for the second point, it’s true that you cannot listen to your teacher and your music at the same time, but the thing is you actually can. Allow me to explain. Instead of having both earbuds in or both headphones on,you only have one in use, and then you play the music but on a fairly low volume. According to this article posted by Effectiviology.com, not only music, but just background noise in general can generate improvements in your ability to work productively.  In a nutshell, because the music is quieter, you can focus more on your teacher, while still gaining the benefits of listening to music at a higher volume. 

In an interview I did with the principal of BFA, Brett Blanchard, I told him about seeing some of my classmates doing exactly what I described and asked what he thought about it. He related to it by recalling when he was in high school/college. He stated that when he should have been paying attention to his teacher, he would doodle all over his notes, making intricate drawings of “mythical beasts” as he described them. However, according to Blanchard, he was in fact paying very much attention to his teacher and taking detailed notes at the same time. Blanchard stated that if he tried to take notes without drawing, it actually became harder for him to focus and take good notes. He said that it was a similar situation with music, in that listening to something in the background actually made for better working students. When asked  if he ever listened to music while he worked, surprisingly enough Blanchard responded, “Yes,” followed by, “But I don’t do it as much as I probably should.” He also stated, “I want to listen to music while I work more often.” 

After this, I asked Blanchard the big question: “Do you think that music has a place in our classrooms?”  He responded with a resounding. “Yes.”  Therefore, if the principal thinks so, I think it’s pretty clear that music does, indeed, have a place in the classroom.

However, school starts with the teachers first; if there weren’t any teachers, there would be no school. Therefore,the new question is whether or not the teachers are actually okay with allowing students to listen to music in class. To that, I say it depends on the teacher. In my poll, one of the questions that I asked was, “How many of your teachers allow you to listen to music in class?” This question actually received very mixed results. Once again, the majority of respondents stated that all seven of their teachers allowed them to listen to music in class, although that isn’t an overwhelming majority. Many of my teachers said at the beginning of the year that music, at least during independent work time, was okay. However, I know that there are some teachers who strictly forbid music in the classroom. So, at the end of the day, the decision to allow students to listen to music begins with the teachers. I hope after reading this article I might be able to convince a few to allow their students to listen to music and, of course, consider the rules surrounding that privilege.

That being said, allowing students to listen to music in class is, of course, a privilege. There will always be students who could abuse these privileges to get out of having to listen to their teacher talk, or by playing music too loud and disrupting the class. However, I think as long as students are respectful about their music use and can still complete their assignments, listening to music is an easy enough privilege to bestow upon students and should be taken into consideration when designing how a classroom functions. 

In conclusion, I think that music has a big role to play in the classroom. There are lots of benefits to students listening to music in class, and so long as students can be mature with this privilege, it could beneficially impact lots of students on campus.