The Effect of Background Music on Retention of Vocabulary Terms

Lori Lomker Gearinger, The College at Brockport

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of background music on studying and retention of vocabulary terms. Is music adversely affecting or enhancing our children's studying habits? Can music be stimulating the brain to positively affect concentration and retention?

The subjects consisted of 37 sixth graders. All of the subjects participated in the three different sessions. Three different vocabulary lists (10 words on each) were developed by the researcher. All of the vocabulary came directly from a novel called The View

From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg, a reading selection used within the students' reading class. In the first session the students studied the vocabulary lists without background music (control). During the second session, students studied to Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, C Major, K.467 and Mozart Serenade in G Major, K.525. During the last session students selected "Men in Black" by Will Smith and "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy. Students were exposed to all different kinds of music and to the testing and studying format for several weeks prior to the actually sessions used for this study.

An analysis of variance of two-factor with replication showed a statistically positive difference in the test scores. The experimental group, with Mozart as background music, performed significantly better on the vocabulary tests compared with no music or preferred choice of music.