When I was a kid I used to wish that music followed me wherever I went. I don’t mean like the people wearing earphones all day long, but more of a soundtrack of my life, like in the movies. The right song would always play to match what I was feeling and the activity that I was doing at that time.
Now take a moment to imagine this on a college campus. With the right music colleges could influence their students’ mood. This might sound a little creepy at first, but I’m not talking about some “Big Brother” situation where colleges would control your every move. Instead I’m talking about colleges using music to the advantage of their students. If they were able to put the right type of music in the right places, and at the right time, it could make a world of difference.
One study in France had two groups listen to a lecture. One group had classical music in the background while the other did not. After the lecture both groups took the same multiple-choice quiz. The group with the classical background music scored higher than the group with no music. They drew some interesting findings from this. “The music put students in a heightened emotional state, making them more receptive to information.” As another study puts it, “Music engages the brain over a period of time and the process of listening to music could be a way that the brain sharpens its ability to anticipate events and sustain attention.” This has to do with the subconscious effects that music has on humans, even when they are not actually paying attention to the music. According to these studies, professors playing classical musical music in the background of their lectures could result in students being more likely to take in material. This could also translate to college libraries. Floor 1 is the quiet floor, floor 2 is the talking and eating floor, and floor 3 is the classical music floor.
There have been other studies done on this topic that have shown different effects of music on studying. It is generally found that classical music will increase the ability to focus while other types of music will detract from students’ ability to focus. This does not mean that other genres of music cannot be used for other purposes though. Here’s a quick tour of how different music genres could be used on a college campus (this part is not based on studies but my own personal opinions):
Rock/Pop: Pop gives students the feeling that despite the copious amount of work assigned to them, their part time job and internship, and their desire to have friends on top of that, they can still feel peppy and happy.
Heavy Metal: This is a great option for fire alarms, why make students hear the same old blaring alarm each time when they could be greeted with some blaring heavy metal which will evacuate them from the building faster than any alarm could ever do.
Broadway: This is a perfect combination with the dining hall. Looking for high school musical but college version? Broadway musical sound tracks blasting in the dining hall are sure to get some singers jumping on tables singing “Food Glorious Food” while declaring their talent and school spirit.
Disco: All the cool kids have Disco lights at their parties; the real question is, are they playing the correct music with these lights? College parties could be greatly improved with the help of some nice disco music to match those twirling lights.
Reggae: Perfect for that wooded part of campus that is slightly secluded, the one where all the philosophy major kids are hanging out, holding hands, and telling each other how the universe works. If you stand around to listen you might catch a “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.
Music can impact the way you feel. While it may not yet be clear how exactly colleges could use this to their advantage, I think it is an important thing to look into. If by just playing a certain melody, students can feel less stressed, more focused, or happier; then it is a worthwhile thing to check out.