The Chamber Music Network

The Truth About Listening to Music While You Work

A new study claims that a quiet working environment seems to be best when it comes to creative problem solving.

Once I've settled at my ACMP desk each day and begun to delve into the project at the top of the priority list, my next big decision is which online radio station to tune into. My favorite go-to listening place is Venice Classical Radio Italy, which offers a broad selection of music, with plenty of chamber music and very little chat. When I tune in, I believe I'm setting a relaxing foundation which will enhance my creativity and problem-solving abilities as I work through the various task of the day.

A recent article in Limelight - Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine, explores a new study claiming that the assumption that music helps the listener study, focus and work is far from the truth. The study shows that all background music, with or without lyrics, substantially inhibits our creativity, running counter to the widely held belief that it boosts imagination. The researchers found that those working in a library or quiet room solved substantially more problems than those listening to music. “Background music appears to disrupt people’s ability to plan and test out solutions using their inner speech” said the study’s co-author, Dr. Neil McLatchie. Read complete article: Listening to Music Inhibits Creativity, New Study Shows, by Justine Nguyen, in Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine, March 19, 2019.

Despite the findings of this study, the choice between listening to Mozart as a backdrop for whatever the day may hold compared to spending the day in a quiet room is an easy one for any classical music devotee to make.