The world of music’s impact on student’s performance and mental health

March 15, 2022

You have a very important detailed Biochemistry test 2nd period tomorrow that comes with draining amounts of studying. You stay up all night, only hoping to not fall asleep. Instead, you look for a distraction until you come up with the perfect idea to listen to your music playlist. 

It’s magical how your bad day just turned into a good night worth staying up for. 

The next morning, you pull out a set of earbuds during 1st period as you anticipate the workload that is about to come your way. As your teacher tries to quiet the class down, your ears reveal a new world with the amount of different tunes and beats clearing your thoughts from the night before.  

It manages to shut off the reality you’re in. 

The continuous routine that students are meant to complete becomes a cycle of never-ending exhaustion. Because of this, situations that students experience daily have a potential of becoming severe, affecting their mental health. 

Causing drastic drainage, the COVID-19 pandemic put many obstacles into the ways in which students were attending school and adapting to life from a computer. Because of this, students relied more heavily on social media and music than ever before.

With this comes the satisfaction of our emotional needs.  Having headphones plugged into their ears for hours upon hours has become the new “normal” in the present society. 

It becomes a never-ending cycle.  

The prevalent music in the lives of many students continues to change and progress daily. However, regarding educational levels, the advances that studies have shown can help alleviate the struggles that some students are held back by. 

In fact, Oliver Sacks says: “The power of music to integrate and cure… is quite fundamental. It is the profoundest nonchemical medication.” 

The technique of having music implemented has the possibility of lifting physiological and physical depletion. 

The question is, what if students may have become oblivious as to how much exists beyond the world of music, showing signs of addiction which can rather be distracting?


There are various long term effects that result in the abiding routine that most students have to follow that can cause major mental health illnesses. Because of this, many students find themselves trying to prevent their mental health from deteriorating. However, finding ways to do this is a challenge.

It is very nerve-wracking to focus on the many struggles that surround their reality. 

School is not the only environment that students are exposed to. Trying to set the balance of their life outside of school can become daunting and tense, especially for students who have strained lives. 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic that occurred in March 2020, it had raised many concerns regarding students and how much they were actually learning. The environment and interaction that students were used to had changed, and because of the disturbance that the pandemic had caused, students were forced to modify their learning processes over a computer. 

Navigating through Zoom was something that students had to adapt to, but through this technology usage increased. It became easier for a student to be on their phone and still be considered “present in class.” 

Social media was used constantly and the amount of hours students were seen to be scrolling on their phones rose as well. 

Even through these difficult times that students and individuals were experiencing world-wide, music was changing as well. Music was branching in many forms and this gave students something “extra” that they could be doing during live sessions. 

English Teacher Dr. Nathan Snyder gives his insights on the amount of accessibility that students have in the present, even after the pandemic had occurred: “I was actually thinking about this [comparing his student’s performance from last year] the other day but the difference between generations. So listening to music is not new necessarily, like my generation did it too. But I feel like with the access to digital technologies now, listening to music is much easier than it was when I was growing up…I don’t know if it’s the act of music, period, or it seems that students, younger people need entertainment… They need stimulation…Even sitting in a classroom for 30 seconds before the teacher starts, it seems like students need to be doing something like you need to be listening to music. You need to be texting. Being stationary and idle seems to be uncomfortable.” 

The access to digital technologies continues to advance and have constant developments. The society that Gen Z lives in today is much different than someone who didn’t have such experiences growing up. 

The changes that each generation has to go through becomes significant during their formative years as it affects the ways each generation sees the world. Through the difficult times that others were handling globally, social media was influencing many things, including the type of music others had listened to. 

The aftermath of the pandemic left many people dependent on many variables, affecting the ways in which they may function now. For instance, some may not feel as comfortable in class if there isn’t background noise. 

Music and social media have a strong interconnection. The media delivers an emotional connection which has the ability to create adversity to the public. 

Furthermore, sophomore Kadiza Aktar reflects on the ways that the pandemic has allowed social media to express one’s character. She says, “For some people, social media has allowed them to discover new artists that aren’t the most popular or the most well known, and figure out what they like to listen to and who they like to listen to, which has helped their unique identity when it comes to listening to music.” 

The act of turning to music during this time has continued to rise and many students listened to downcast music, but the majority used upbeat music to lessen their distress. 

Aktar continues to say, “During the pandemic, I think I listened to a lot of, not exactly happy music but I would say pretty upbeat music. I think that kind of helped keep my mood from completely deteriorating… Not exactly music I can relate to, but songs that had the energy that I wanted to radiate in a way. So I think that I saw music as this way to kind of impact my mood.” 

Music during the pandemic was important. It helped others stay connected in the midst of the stay-at-home orders. In most cases, music is used to reinforce the mood that an individual is already in. 

According to A Verywell Report: Music Helped Most of Us Get Through the Pandemic, “Other top reasons people listened to or created music included feeling less stressed, changing their moods, and distracting themselves from unpleasant thoughts and feelings.”

This bar graph shows the different factors that helped others throughout the pandemic, easing their stress and their feelings through the use of music. Source:

Not only in Aktar’s life, but music has had the ability to help during challenging times that students had to undergo, even outside of their school lives.

Junior Alexandra Gonzalez- Soriano is one of the many students that finds listening to music as a contributing factor that is so diverse that it can calm, anger, excite and heal her. 

She asserts, “When you think of music, you think of the person who wrote the song and you know, most times they relate to what they’re writing and they are looking to gain a bigger audience. So, when you’re listening to a song, you’re trying to figure out the deeper message behind it…Let’s say, they’re talking about a specific situation that you also went through, it’s interesting to see their perspective and their feelings.”

Senior Chiakaleilah Duruaku makes connections to what Soriano had to say. She says, “When I have felt stressed out[using music to block out her realities], especially because of my interactions with family members, music has helped distract or calm me…Music grounds me, even though it also blocks out things going on. I have music that hypes me up, makes me nostalgic, makes me reflective, or makes me feel confident…The ease with which you can find your day’s soundtrack on music streaming platforms is startling.” 

Music is powerful. One song can make people feel differently and connect to the situations that they experience on a daily basis. The message that is portrayed is meant to evoke individualized emotions. 

The blockage of the reality that everyone was experiencing was much needed, and music was a way to escape and cope through the hardships that families struggled with. 

Teacher Jeff Reeder, who teaches Algebra 2/ Trigonometry, understands that stress can come in many forms. Sometimes alleviating that stress is relying on music, which is okay.

He emphasizes this by saying,“People have stressful lives…Stress is constant. It’s not going anywhere. It’s part of living a productive life or any life really, even if you’re not productive, you’re still going to be stressed. So, humans have always turned to different things to alleviate that stress for as long as humans have existed, there has been music… There are always these things in life that allow us to step back and remember that it’s okay to have some sense of joy, peace and serenity.” 

In one way, shape, or form, there have been different forms of music that have existed. The language and the art that music portrays is one that lends itself a relationship with words, closely appealing to the ears and influencing human emotion. 

Seeing stress as a part of your everyday life and learning how to handle and cope with that appropriately is a healthy way of approaching it. In relation to the tasks that are enforced and implemented into a human’s life, the pressure that continues to take place is common. 

Shifting environments in the present 2021-2022 school year, many students constantly have earbuds in during class. Does this benefit their work ethic and performance? 

Once again, students had to change the environment that they surrounded themselves in to specifically learn and gain knowledge. Students are given the opportunity during class to work independently, but this depends on the student and how they use the time efficiently.  

During this time, many teachers like Mr. Reeder play music to provide a signal that this is the particular time to catch up on work and stay productive.

Mr. Reeder expresses, “I literally play music every single day in class. I feel like the music that I am playing, it just provides a sense of calm… I’m not going to sit there and play, you know some crazy like hip hop or some sh*t like that, because those are good music and those might be soothing for some, but then they might be jarring for others… I’ve had students mention in the feedback surveys that they enjoy having that playing while they’re working.” 

The enjoyment of having music playing in class is one of the many factors that helps students throughout their studies. Having a teacher that understands this is super important. 

Using the time that is offered in class becomes efficient for those who may not have the time to do particular things outside of school. With everything that might be happening in a student’s life, it is imperative that they shut their minds and focus on the process of receiving an education. 

In accordance with The Benefits of Studying with Music, “Studies have shown that music produces several positive effects on a human’s body and brain. Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory.” 

Music activates many parts of the human mindset. This alone is incredible. 

It’s incredible how you are able to get more work done. It’s incredible how you are able to use the skills you learned and apply them to real-life scenarios. It’s incredible how it exists. 

And, it’s incredible how it can change your mental health. 

Aktar emphasizes the importance of having the feeling of comfort and turning to something when in need of support. She mentions, “I like to have certain things that I wouldn’t say are a distraction, but things that are able to provide me with some sort of comforting outlet where I’m able to do something that takes my mind off other stressful factors in my life. Music has helped my mental health in the sense that I am able to have this other source of comfort and entertainment…. So I think music has helped my mental health in that way because it’s allowed me to just relax and not always dwell on the stressful side of things.”

Music is a keystone of our brain’s health that can balance powerful negative and positive emotions. 

The de-stigmatization of making your mental health a priority is very significant. Understanding that through the challenging and normal parts of your life makes you strong and resilient. 

Sophomore Humayra Hussain understands the stress that is put on students based on the standards that she is faced with. When there are times when she needs to be productive, she often finds herself listening to music as a way to relieve the distress. 

She articulates, “There is a lot of stress in my life because of academic standards and expectations I get from my family and stuff. A large way that I do relieve that stress is I use a lot of music while I am also working on stuff. So kind of like doing two things at once. So, I use music as a way to relieve my stress while I’m being productive.” 

Like Hussain, many students use the form of music as a way to stay focused on the tasks that they are presented with. Over time, you can choose to incorporate music more or less, depending on the impact that it has on yourself and the way you perform. 

In a way, music improves the ways in which students work. It gives them the motivation to continue and strive for success. 

Soriano adds, “I think it does help in a way [using music as a way to focus] and it really depends on the type of music that is being played. I cannot focus if a rock and roll song is being played in the classroom. But if something smooth and low is being played, I wouldn’t mind it just because I don’t like to sit in a silent environment and I feel like being so silent just distracts me. Something has to happen, there has to be noise.”

Using music as background noise is something that affects the majority of students. Sometimes having a silent room does not hold the attention span needed to be productive. 

Whether the stress comes from school or from other factors of your life, listening to music has an impact on the human stress response or the autonomic nervous system, which operates by receiving information from the environment that you surround yourself with and from other parts of your body. 

Your body may need the boost of having something to listen to when completing responsibilities. 

In addition, How Listening to Music Can Have Psychological Benefits states, “The psychological effects of music can be powerful and wide-ranging. Music therapy is an intervention sometimes used to promote emotional health, help patients cope with stress, and boost psychological well-being.” 

The world of music is complex. It continues to show its significance towards the preservation of memory storage in the brain. It becomes crucial for students and their educational paths. The presence of music is notable for the type of environments that students are surrounded in every day. 

The work that is produced in the long run is efficient and much more quality-based. 

Music can pose the answer to many benefits and increase attentiveness within an environment when others need to focus.


Now, could listening to music hinder learning and its process? 

The short answer? Yes. 

However, it’s the way that you personally choose to allow it to affect your learning. 

Although music can come with many long-term benefits that impact our mental health in a positive way, it can be seen as distracting. 

Knowing the rise of phone usage and listening to music has raised many concerns for teachers in class. Sometimes, students are seen using their phones excessively and not listening to the teacher. They are addicted. 

Yes, it is important for a student to feel comfortable in a classroom, even if that means having earbuds in, but knowing when to balance the idea of using earbuds in situations is just as important. 

Students may become unaware as to how many hours their earbuds stay in their ears. They are constantly switching songs and playlists so that they forget to pay attention to their surroundings. 

An important part of being a student is making sure to stay focused in class. It is imperative that students respect their teachers. Showing little attention in class due to phone usage is conflicting. 

Dr. Snyder brings up a really solid point- where students have failed to use earbuds to their advantage. He recognizes that phone usage is really distracting, after how so much has changed for this generation. 

He says, “I dislike when students are listening to music or even just have their earbuds in while I am trying to teach something. But I also recognize it’s almost like an accessory at this point. It’s like students may not be listening to anything, but they have their earbuds in. I have no way of knowing. To me, it’s rude. Whatever I’m saying is not important enough for you to even pay attention.” 

Obviously, when a student is addicted to using their earbuds consistently, this can become a problem. Their education is essentially in a crisis if they do not obtain the information from class because they were busy doing something else. 

Knowing when to use music is important. Giving your attention to your teacher is important. 

A student not listening in class can have many long-term effects. In some scenarios, the information learned in one class acts as a prerequisite to being able to move on to the next level. Without the information in the initial class, it can become challenging to pass the next.

While listening to music completing a task that a student has already been taught benefits most, listening to music when learning something completely new tends to not help a student concentrate. 

Hussain is mindful of the ways she uses music in class. She states, “For example, math, if he’s [teacher] explaining what we’re supposed to be doing, obviously I need to be listening to him. So music isn’t really something that I play during that time. But if I was doing independent work, and the entire period is us doing work individually, I would prefer music.” 

Ideally, this is what a student should consistently be mindful of. 

When getting caught up in the many realities that surround you and not necessarily focusing on the reality that you are currently in, it becomes harder for you to be able to catch up on the things that you might have missed. 

You become drowned in sound. 

Lyrical music activates the language-processing centers of the brain, which can be disturbing. The act of processing the lyrics within a song as a student tries to process the words that they are studying can become even more challenging. 

In addition, Is it Good to Listen to Music While Studying? states: 

– “Loud or agitated music can have adverse effects on reading comprehension and on mood, making focus more difficult.

– Students who use music to help them memorize sometimes need to listen to music while taking the test in order to reap the benefits of this study method. In the silent test-taking environment, these students may find it more difficult to recall the information.”

It is important to take into account what type of music works for you when studying, as this can cause many negative effects when trying to achieve a specific thing. 

As the musical presence within the educational systems has proved to help the achievements of students, it can aid their work endurance. 

Again, the choice is up to you and the factors in which you cope with sound. Everyone’s body is different so understanding the signals your body needs to stay productive is crucial. 

The light in which music is painted should not be negative. Music has the ability to do several things and make you feel all the emotions you are seeking to feel. 

There are many things that can distract a student and their ability to perform in class. At the end of the day, it comes down to the student and how well they used their time in class to get tasks completed. 

Music is there to help support and guide them through challenging times, but understanding that there are going to be times where music cannot be present is also major. 

Having a balance of the amount, the type, and the environment that you’re listening to music becomes impactful towards you and what you are trying to accomplish. 


Conclusively, the policies that are offered at iSchool are unique in comparison to those in other high schools. With the many expectations that students undergo on a daily basis, there can be many things that distract them, causing their focus of attention to be very minimal. 

Throughout the country, various schools have different systems regarding the many things that students are allowed to do. 

iSchool has a vibrant, challenging environment that is based on self-guided, engaging, and hardworking learners. iSchool allows students to pursue a variety of interests based on the courses that they choose for themselves and how well they apply the array of education into their futures. 

There seems to be a complicated scenario with the earbud policy offered at the iSchool. Wandering around the hallways and classrooms with earbuds constantly playing is something that many students in “no phone usage” schools do not get to experience.  

While most students do not take time out of their day to consider if the usage of earbuds is becoming addicting, it is significant to understand how much of a necessity and dependability it has become. 

The battle that students face between their many different lives continues to impact them in many forms. Music acts as a factor that allows many students to undertake the overload of educational standards and expectations. 

Through this, many students establish an environment that unlocks concentration and effective work ethic. Although this can be seen as a distraction to some, there are many ways to cope with this being present. 

When focusing on the separation of most students’ lives, students are expected to have a balance. And without this, the process of making sure that they are becoming someone who they want to be in the future is demanding.. 

Changing the ways that your schedule is structured so that it fits the ‘balanced’ lifestyle will always continue to be important. 

In the words of psychotherapist Jennifer Stone, “Cognitive behavior therapy is an active type of treatment focused on learning how our thoughts affect our emotions and behavior. I like to think of it as being a “detective of your mind,” where you learn how to examine your thoughts.”  

Due to the prevalence of music rising in the present day, it is important that students not only evaluate how much they need music to get through the day but also how significant it has become in classrooms. 

There is a call for support across the country when it comes to dealing with issues regarding an individual’s mental health and the ways in which they perform. 

iSchool has implemented many strategies and has continued to show its dedication to helping students who may be struggling. There are many resources that students get to reach out to which are not necessarily offered in other schools. 

Mr. Reeder concludes by saying, “There is this really good quote where it’s “Nothing is poisonous. Only dosages are poisonous.” Like alcohol is not a poison, until you take too much of it. So the idea is, anything can be a problem, but it’s all about moderation. So, is it wrong to listen to music? No. But if you’re constantly plugging your headphones and you’re ignoring your entire life… Obviously, that’s not healthy… The point is, it’s not about the particular thing.  It’s about how that thing is being used. How do you use music?… Are you able to use it in a way that is not impacting the things that you need to do and your responsibilities?” 

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