Sometimes I am surprised to see my kids report cards and discover that they are getting good grades. I don't know how they do it. I watch them both doing their homework curled up on the couch with the television on and as often as not there will be music eminating from their computer at the same time. It seems such an unlikely environment in which anything requiring thought could be accomplished. They seem to be managing.
Then again, I remember studying for my exams listening to music as well. Perhaps that explains why I never learned calculus, but can still remember the lyrics to every Rolling Stones song ever written. The human mind can only absorb so much information at once, and when you are listening to music with lyrics, chances are the brain is not focused on the task at hand, but is distracted by the lyrics of the song. This makes sense, and should have been obvious to me at the time, but it wasn't - perhaps I was too distracted to have figured it out.
According to Robyn McMaster, the Senior VP at the MITA Brain Based Center, the solution to this is Baroque music. In an interesting article she wrote for her blog, brainbasedbiz.blogspot.com she explains why baroque music helps people concentrate. The next paragraph is taken directly from her blog.
Why Baroque Music? Research reveals that Baroque music pulses between 50 to 80 beats per minute. Baroque music "stabilizes mental, physical and emotional rhythms," according to Chris Boyd Brewer, "to attain a state of deep concentration and focus in which large amounts of content information can be processed and learned." Music affects your brain waves. Slower baroques, such as Bach, Handel, Vivaldi or Corelli, can create mentally stimulating environments for creativity and new innovations. Alpha brain waves originate from the occipital lobe during periods of relaxation. As you relax you can move out of stressors that otherwise impede your creativity.
Perhaps if more people knew this, I wouldn't be subjected to that top 40 crap that I constantly hear when I visit people at their offices