I recall pretending to listen while my teacher advised her class of Year 11 reprobates, ‘When studying for your exams it’s best to find somewhere absolutely quiet, or if you do want to listen quietly to music, make sure it’s classical music – that’s the only type that’s been proven to promote the learning process…’
I recall further that any attempt I ever made at ‘studying for exams’ was coupled with the irrepressible throb of ‘90s rock music and shit, I still did alright.
This week’s Theory therefore pertains to the belief that those who believed classical music to be beneficial to the learning process maintained said belief because that was the only form of music they themselves could tolerate and furthermore expected that if they pushed such a general and largely erroneous belief, they could perhaps convert the good wholesome rock listeners of the 1990s to their preferred breed of antiquated, geriatric and increasingly obsolete percussive abomination.
According to the boffins classical music stimulates the portion of the mind that controls learning (here’s me thinking it stimulated that sector in charge of registering immense boredom) and perhaps it does improve learning, in those people who enjoy classical music.
It is one thing to assert that a particular variety of music increases the learning ability of a particular group but indeed, quite another to assert that the same kind of music will enhance the learning capabilities of everyone.
Obviously, pleasant tunes have a calming effect on a mind and surely a calm mind is more conducive to the gleaning experience than an agitated one which, incidentally, is exactly what mine becomes with prolonged exposure to disagreeable music.
With that established I think I can safely advise anybody hoping to learn anything, that background music is invariably good, or invariably bad, depending on what kind of person you are; personally, background noise while performing any task is a necessity – as I write this in fact Black Sabbath’s War Pigs fills the occasional blank in thought – and if you’re the same, music is likely beneficial to your learning ability also.
My theory therefore: I do not believe people should pay too much attention to the grey-haired advisory: ‘Tests have shown one can enhance one’s studiousness by listening to classical music’; I think we ought to adhere to our own musical preference and ultimately do as we please.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Gerry Atrick
Photography by Pierre Cassin