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Why homework's no rave

YOUNG punk fans and precocious devotees of Wagner may be dropping grades in their homework, while fans of Enya and Chopin surge to the top of the class.

Academic research is shedding new light on pupils' choice of background music for their studies.

"A lot of children listen to loud music while they are doing their homework and they will tell you it is helping them. But our research shows that, with some types of music, it may not be helping them at all," says Professor Sue Hallam of Oxford Brookes University.

Professor Hallam and London University Institute of Education researcher Carey Godwin asked three groups of 10- and 11-year-old children to write "exciting" stories while listening to different types of music. One group was played "calming" classics, an-other "exciting" rave music nd a third blissful silence.

The results were striking: the pupils played calming tunes wrote significantly more exciting, gripping, and less muddled stories than the other two groups. The rave music listeners were bottom of the class on every measure.

"We also found that three of the stories were very violent and all three of these came from the exciting music group. Three out of 50 children is statistically significant but we want to look at this further," Professor Hallam said.

The researchers found that children had little idea of the effect of the different types of music on their work. Only 44 per cent thought the calming music helped them, while 50 per cent thought the exciting music was a benefit.

Details of the research can be obtained from shallam@brookes.ac.uk

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