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I can't listen to music when I write

Updated on December 24, 2012

I can't listen to music when I write. it's very distracting, but more than that I find myself so immersed in the music, the rhythm, the tempo, the melody, and the structure, I completely lose my train of thought for what I am writing. Yes, I am a musician and was trained to listen to everything that's going on in a piece of music, whether it be a Beethoven Synphony, a Brubeck jazz rendition of Brandenberg Gate, or a raucous rock performance by Aerosmith or Led Zeppelin. I just can't listen to music while I write.

And I'm here on Hub pages to write...right? And I write a lot, not just here but on my four blogs, my memoir and a trillion other places on line...so, as you've probably guessed by now, it's pretty quiet around my house, at least in the room where my computer and I are having a 3-5 hour work-out session.


I don't know about the rest of you. People often tell me they play music all day long, while they're studying, doing research, writing, reading, cooking, making love, driving the car. The last three I can handle...but the first four? forget it! I'd never get anything done.

My favorite way to listen to music is to put a CD on...maybe a Beethoven Symphony...turn the volume way way up and sit in the room adjoining the one with the speakers. In my case, it would be my parlor....the speakers are in the dining room (remember, I have a bed and breakfast and the guests like to listen to music while they have breakfast...usually Vivaldi or classical guitar/ early in the morning.)


I would then listen to each movement, analyzing, conducting, and jumping up and down...having the greatest time all by myself. I've heard Beethoven's nine symphonies over and over for years, but they never get boring 'cause every time I hear them, I hear something new or different...that's the way it is with Beethoven symphonies....they are amazing.

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    • MichelleA2011 profile image

      Michelle 5 years ago from Connecticut

      Great hub! I am the opposite. I cannot focus in complete quiet. Even growing up, I always did my homework in front of the tv or with music playing or in the kitchen while grandma was making dinner. Now, when I write - whether it is for my novel, or curriculum and lesson plans, I tend to focus better with background noise. When it's too quiet, that's distracting to me. When I was in college and going to the library to study, if I didn't have my CD player with me or if my batteries died, there was no way I was able to get anything done.

    • princess g profile image

      princess g 5 years ago

      I can't listen to music whern I write either.

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 5 years ago

      I can listen to light classical or smooth jazz when I write.

    • Jagodka profile image

      Jagodka 5 years ago

      Whether or not I can write when listening depends on a couple of factors. Like now, I'm writing and watching Kill Bill lol.

    • apurva joshi profile image

      apurva joshi 5 years ago from INDIA

      hi alekhouse... its same here even i can't listen to music when I write. great one enjoyed reading it:)

    • Cookinmom11 profile image

      Cookinmom11 5 years ago from Saint George, Georgia

      Interesting Hub! I like music when I'm studying and writing, but I vary the type of music. For study, I like Classic Rock or 50's beebop type music. I get good grades when I write to the online radio station Radio Rivendell. Awesome instrumentals there!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I like to listen to music BEFORE I write. It inspires me. But I like the quiet when I finally settle down to work.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Alehouse - I am a musician, also, so for most activities I cannot have music going. If music is playing, it demands my attention and I joyfully give it.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Michelle A: That's amazing to me. I wouldn't be able to do anything except listen to the music...I don't even like it on when I'm cooking.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      princess g: With me, it might have something to do with being a little ADD..I find it very distracting. What do you think accounts for your experience?

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      @saddlerider, Yes, I can listen to light classical or smooth jazz if I'm at a party or have light conversation in a group. But if I get involved in something "deep", I have to turn the music off.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      @Jagodka: "Whether or not I can write when listening depends on a couple of factors. Like now, I'm writing and watching Kill Bill lol." Interesting, because according to studies of the brain, it cannot focus on two things at one time...so something has to suffer, cause it keeps jumping back and forth

    • alekhouse profile image
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      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      @apurva joshi So glad you liked the hub...thanks

    • alekhouse profile image
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      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      @cookingmom11: Interesting comment. 50s beebop? Wow I haven't heard any of that in a long time lol. And I find this amazing: "I get good grades when I write to the online radio station Radio Rivendell. Awesome instrumentals there!" I'm not is school anymore, but I'll have to check this station out.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Hi Suziecat7, Yeah, I think a lot of people do that...at least that's what I seen in some of my feedback.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      @Maren Morgan M-T

      "I am a musician, also, so for most activities I cannot have music going. If music is playing, it demands my attention and I joyfully give it."

      Exactly the point I was making. Thanks for the comment.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I'm the same way, although I've gotten better at it...I've learned to tune out the music when I have no control over it!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Hi Green Lotus, nice to see you. Yeah, that's good, if you have no control over it. But if I'm going to write, I mean articles, etc, I always settle somewhere quiet...and then the flow begins...

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 5 years ago

      Some writers feel inspired by music when they write. I love some peace and quiet when I write, though I've to contend with noise from the TV from time to time.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Noise from the Tv would be really hard to tolerate is I were writing.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

      As a singer and daughter of musicians I will pay attention to the music and sing along. I do occasionally have the type of nature music played at a spa while I write if it fits the type of writing I am doing-for example, a poem about nature. Otherwise, no music when I am writing. I do listen to music for much of the day, but then I set aside time for this and am not focusing on other things while I listen to music. I think it is precisely because you ARE a musician that you can't write to music.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      I totally agree. Thanks for the comment, Flora. I did a series of articles on aging Rock musicians. I listened to a lot of heavy metal before I started writing, but had to turn it off to get any clarity while I was writing.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi, Alek - well I am certainly no musician and know nothing about music but I can't write with music either. It's like people who read while they're watching TV. Music for me is great for cleaning and cooking. I need too much of my brain for music. And writing. There is only so much to go around, haha.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Dolores, I love this: "Music for me is great for cleaning and cooking. I need too much of my brain for music. And writing. There is only so much to go around, haha."

      My feelings exactly. You've very funny LOL

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

      I find it depends on the music. I have trouble writing when the music has lyrics, especially if I am familiar with the song, but instrumental pieces will do the same if there are lyrics that I know.

      I used to write all my term papers to classical music - Bach was always a fine companion for an "all-nighter." I still prefer classical music, but am very sensitive to the feel of the music - it has to fit with what I am writing, and it cannot be too slow or moody.

      Silence works well, but I have also learned to write while the TV is on, as it most often is if my "kids" are home.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      @RedElf, Well, I don't have to worry about the kids being home any more...They moved out years ago. And now, if I have guests staying in the B&B, they usually go out sight-seeing all day so it's nice and quiet in the house...perfect for writing!

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 5 years ago from Vernon British Columbia Canada

      I am with you - I have absolutely no distractions in my office. I take music breaks though. It amazed me how my daughter listened to music constantly, when doing homework and studying. I couldn't even when I was a teenager... a life ago lol

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

      It depends on my mood. If it is a CD with a few eighties songs I like, I can cook or write. If it is a video, I usually like to watch. Lately I just have movies playing on a loop in the background on my TV. It provides background noise, without distracting me too much. I know you like Aerosmith, I was wondering, do you like Duran Duran. They have made a come back of sorts, and I actually really like their new songs on the All You Need Is Now album. There is one really nice acoustic song they did recently.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Hi Koralee...Thanks for the comment. Just about the only thing I like to do to music is clean house. I put on a nice repetitive Bach fugue and go to town.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Hey Julia...I used to be into all kinds of music, including jazz, rock and country...but I'm not much of a pop music person. And I rarely turn any music on to just listen to it, except Beethoven or Mahler. I've been so inundated with music all my life that maybe I'm a little jaded. Now, it has to be really interesting or unique to get my attention.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Duran Duran is not exactly pop in my mind. Their current sound is very, well I would say synthesizer and guitar based laden. I do like some pop, but I like Duran Duran because they were originals when it came to videos. People thought they were generic because so many girls like them, but they were very artistic in the way they did their videos on location, being the first to do that. When I realized this, and how Nick Rhodes is very much an artist when it comes to video and photography, and I liked them even more than before.

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