Music in Lab: MyTunes, iTunes or NoTunes?

Dear Dora: Music in Lab?Dear Dora,

We need a moderator in a debate that’s recently come to a head in lab: Should music be allowed in the lab?



Dear Anonymous,

Playing music in lab can be a very sensitive subject for many graduate students. Music helps some people stay awake and focus while doing repetitive tasks, while it distracts others and increases their chances of making an error.

Since many people are distracted by music, and those who listen to it have different tastes, not playing music out loud is the way a lot of labs operate. Nowadays nearly everyone has an MP3 player or a smart phone, and they can listen to their favorite tunes with earphones.

If there is still a controversy, just remind people that listening to music in lab through earphones will ensure that they will listen to their favorite tunes without commercials!

Should music be allowed in lab?

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Dora Farkas, Ph.D. is the author “The Smart Way to Your Ph.D.:200 Secrets from 100 Graduates,” and the founder of PhDNet, an online community for graduate students and PhDs. You will find links to her book, monthly newsletters, and discussion board on her site. Send your questions to [email protected] and keep an eye out for them in an upcoming issue!


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3 comments so far. Join The Discussion

  1. Nick

    wrote on May 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    In our labs we played the famous Pandora radio, that way the music was somewhat randomized by genre so that everyone could enjoy some music without arguing over someone's personal taste. Every colleague that I've worked with hasn't objected to working with radio music playing. And the music can easily be paused or closed when discussion is needed or if the group begins to become less productive.

  2. Louise Smith

    wrote on May 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    I think you have to be careful. Playing music through headphones can be dangerous. If you're walking through the lab with headphones on you're not as aware of what's going on, you can't hear when people are coming up behind you. I'd rather have the radio on as background music. However I do ask before I put it on as I am aware that some people don't like having the radio on or don't shre my taste in music / radio programmes.

  3. Album Releases

    wrote on January 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Here's a simple solution, just play something easy like classical music.

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