listening to music while reading

The Pros and Cons of Listening to Music While Reading

by Oluwatoowo Onifade

Do you listen to music while you read and you think it is bad manners, or do you read without music and your buddies tell you that reading with music is much better?

Search no more, worry the less.  The answer your heart yearns for is right here.

What are the pros and cons of listening to music while reading? Can music and reading complement each other? What music should you listen to that will avail you the benefit of listening to music while listening? 

This article answers all of the above questions and more. Follow along. 

Pros of Listening to Music While Reading

What exactly do you stand to gain if you listen to music and read at the same time? See below, what is in it for you.

  1. It helps you study

Reading can be very tedious especially if you are reading to meet a deadline (an exam or test) and not just for fun. Listening to music while reading that dull topic can help you study for a longer period.

One of the pros of listening to music while reading is that it gives you the endurance you need to study an uninteresting subject or topic.

  1. It helps you focus

As much as you endure your reading, can you focus? This is another benefit of listening to music while reading- you can focus. Listening to music while reading helps you to focus on whatever you are studying.

This is a great benefit of listening to music while reading because it helps you zone out of distractions such as worrying thoughts or noises in the environment.

  1. It helps you concentrate better

You may be thinking, “what’s the difference between concentration and focus? They are quite different when it comes to comprehension. I could have my focus on a picture of mine but not concentrate on that picture. Do you agree? 

Apart from the benefit of being able to focus, another benefit of listening to music while reading is that you can concentrate on your reading. Upon being zoned out of those worrying thoughts, music helps you to think more clearly and by this time, you are thinking about what you are reading.

  1. It serves as a motivation for study

One of the pros of listening to music while reading is that it motivates you to study.  Do you have a routine activity that is starting to seem boring? Try doing that routine with a song, you will discover that you will enjoy the routine activity and probably lose track of time while at it. One of the great benefits of listening to music while reading is that it helps you enjoy your reading activity.

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Cons of Listening to Music While Reading

It is said that for all things with an advantage, there is at least one disadvantage no matter how relative it may be. As beneficial as listening to music while reading may be, let us also consider its downsides. They include:

  1. Damage to ears

This con of listening to music while reading does not apply to reading alone. It also applies to listening to music while working. Another major disadvantage of listening to music and reading is that it can damage your ears if you plug your earpiece in for too long and at a high volume.

  1. It isolates you

Mas isn’t meant to be an island but this is also one of the cons of listening to music while reading. If you practice this for so long, you get to a point where you are always on earplugs which isolate you because friends do not want to disturb you or they tried calling you but you could not hear them.

  1. It can be a distraction

As much as listening to music and reading can help you study, this is quite dependent on the music type you are listening to, especially, if the music changes frequently, you might not be able to assimilate whatever you are studying. 

Not all music can aid your reading, focus, or concentration level. If you choose the wrong music, you are about to waste a few hours of your day while you think you are reading.  A major con of listening to music while reading is that a wrong music choice can keep you distracted.

  1. It doesn’t work for memorization

In a case where you are reading to memorize or cram (la cram, la pour, la pass, la graduate) and not because you want to understand the course or topic, reading with music will turn out to be a great disadvantage. 

This is because you are tasking your mind to perform two cognitive processes at a time. Process the music and process your reading. It cannot happen. It is better to listen to music and read to understand than listen to music and read to cram.

  1. It leads to forgetfulness

This is also a major con of listening to music while reading. Listening to music while reading can make your mind forget things easily (another reason you cannot memorize with music). Take, for instance, you plugged your earbuds and you were reading and someone tapped you to get your attention, by the time you attend to the person and try to return to your reading, you cannot remember what you were reading. You’ll most likely need to go back a few lines and then continue. Try it out and prove me wrong. 

I was in training a while ago and the facilitator mentioned how we cannot multitask, we can only switch tasks, I have tried to practice it and it seems true, but I have not researched yet or taken a survey. In his words, he said we zone out of one task to focus on the other and vice versa but we cannot do two things at the same time.

Some Types of Music that go along with Reading

I have mentioned that the wrong choice of music is a cause of the cons of listening to music while reading.  Here is a little insight into what types of music are best for your reading. Do due diligence in studying them, create your reading playlist ahead, and you can use YouTube to save time.

  1. Classical music 

This helps foster an atmosphere of professionalism and can energize or relax depending on the song. For example, Ibike or Ave Maria (you can search on Youtube). A Nigerian classical composer is Fela Sowande, another is Akin Euba.

  1. Neoclassical 

This type of music relaxes you, eases you from stress, and helps you to concentrate better. 

  1. Ambient music 

This is useful for blocking out distractions but doesn’t encroach on whatever it is you’re thinking about while studying. Your choice of ambient music can come as instrumentals too.

  1. Music without words

Music with words can be very distracting consciously and subconsciously, you might even have the urge to sing along at times. Music without words (instrumentals) which includes ambiance or natural sounds is made to leave space in the brain to accommodate other things.

  1. Soundtracks 

Film, TV, or video game soundtracks are designed not to take too much focus away from what you’re watching or playing. These can apply to your study too.


Listening to music while reading has both pros and cons so there’s no right or wrong side to it. Discover what works for you and stick with it.

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About Author

Avatar of Oluwatoowo Onifade
Oluwatoowo Onifade
I am Oluwatoowo Onifade
A graduate of English Language from Obafemi Awolowo University.
I am a content writer, fashion designer and a baker.
Belief- learning never ends. You can learn from anywhere, anytime and from anyone.
My hobbies are arithmetics and reading.

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