Susanne Tamir
Web+ designer

Creativity and Noise

I found an interesting article about how a decent noisy background improves creativity. Would like to share it and know if you agree

i like an quiet environment and get my ideas in riding with my Mountain bike in the desert. But i see that many children really learn better with some noise in the background. May be its a question of character. Susanne

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Caroline Julianna Thompson

Posted on 1/12/18 6:18:25 PM Permalink

​Interesting read...I read the linked article a little quickly, but will go back and reread it again. A couple of things, I believe that this may be subjective depending upon the nature of the artist. Everyone has a different way of working and just simply a different brain. The article states up front that noise "may" boost creativity and not that they found this definitively. I noticed that most of the tests were based around problem solving tasks. I need to re again and digest what I think about their research, but for me, I am more creative without noise. Quiet is especially important for me when I am deep into a concept or a complex set creations. I can have music with more mundane and routine tasks and do find it more enjoyable at those times. I have never noted if background noise made me more creative during these routine tasks. I will have to take more notice and see.

Focus seems to make me more creative overall. Interesting topic, thanks for posting. :-)


Susanne Tamir

Posted on 1/12/18 11:14:54 PM Permalink

Hi Caroline

Thanks for your answer. I still study this problem in daily life and found that it really depends on the person. I am like you i need the quiet but my daughter (22) cant do nothing without music. For some noise is increasing creativity for some the opposite. I try to figure out from where this preferences come . As well as the decent background music i find myself in many learn videos with background music (seems the new trend also on adobe...) that i just cant watch it put me out of anz concentration. And i hear from many fellow students that its just the opposite. So may be whenever possible the one that watches learn videos should be able to choose to hear just the speaking or to hear speaking and music....

Scott Dombrowski

Posted on 1/12/18 3:32:40 AM Permalink

​I have to have Noise when I work. Silence doesn’t do it for me. I guess it gives me something to tune out and focus. On work days I sometimes have student bring in headphones or play music over the class.

Mihai Zahiu

Posted on 11/6/17 9:08:46 AM Permalink

I do think its a matter of social behaviour. I move from Romania where my office was a closed room to Denmark where is an open space. It was hard to focus and I think I need almost 2 years to get used to it. But now I'm good to go. Its true some nice sound its always helpful. I will suggest

Olsen Ross

Posted on 11/8/17 9:08:41 PM Permalink

That's a great link! Thanks for sharing.

Caroline Julianna Thompson

Posted on 1/13/18 5:44:10 PM Permalink

Hi Mihai,

I also love the link you provided. It is interesting the types of sound they use to boost productivity. I just listened to a TED talk by Dan Gartenberg that touches on this idea of sound and the brain. It is tangent to the idea of work as it is about increasing the brains productivity during sleep. Anyway, interesting subject.

Thanks for the link!


Olsen Ross

Posted on 11/2/17 5:47:55 PM Permalink

Occasionally I will play sounds from in the background during class. "​Coffitivity recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity and help you work better."

Faten khalil

Posted on 8/11/17 12:59:29 PM Permalink

​I can only work with complete silence. That's why I am most efficient at night. My students however are mixed. Some like to listen to music while they're working while others complain if other students whisper claiming they cannot concentrate. I think it is best to give students freedom of choice and I would not enforce my students to listen to noise while they're working for creativity reasons.

Sean Malone

Posted on 2/12/17 6:55:54 PM Permalink

​I personally love to have some white noise, classical, or jazz music in the background while I am working from a design and creativity aspect. I am not a fan of words or loud music during my time.

Back when I was primarily teaching students, I would have an ambient music tune in the background, enough to blend in as white noise but not too loud to distract. I think when the music becomes the focal point of the setting, the mind does not have the ability to balance this with the task at hand.

Janis HendersonHunsucker

Posted on 10/11/16 2:39:47 PM Permalink

​In my digital photography classroom, we create a custom Pandora channel (every students recommends bands). We listen to the music while we are working with dim lighting so we can see our chromebooks.

Robbie Collett

Posted on 5/17/16 8:12:48 PM Permalink

I remember learning in a Psychology class that noise is good for times where you need to improvise and think quickly, quiet is good for when you need to concentrate and do something you know how to do. In basketball, for example, the home team wants the crowd riled up when they have the ball and they need to score, which requires improvisation and quick thinking, whereas you go silent during a free throw which is something you know how to do and you need to calm down. Like you said, it depends on the individual, but it also depends on the project. When my multimedia students grouped up and started brainstorming movie ideas, it would naturally get noisy. When they then needed to edit the video in Premiere, they'd put headphones on to help concentrate (not to mention hear the video).

If I were you, I'd ask the students how they feel about noise and what solutions they can come up with to address the fact that some students work well to noise and others don't.

In the end I guess the simple answer is headphones :)

Lidka Schuch

Posted on 3/3/16 9:35:41 PM Permalink

One more thing: let us never forget that any kind of noise can be invasive and irritating. "Noise pollution" is a phrase coined long time ago, because it exists. Loud music, cranked up base, repetitive, simple rhythm might be just as distractive and annoying as a sea-doo circling in one place on a small lake. Noise makes people deaf, often later in life - children and young people often do not realize that until it's too late. Let's not kill our hearing in the race for creativity, please! />

Lidka Schuch

Posted on 3/3/16 9:13:17 PM Permalink

For me it depends what kind of noise for what kind of creativity. For writing I need silence, or not very loud background music, preferably instrumental only, without lyrics. For painting/drawing/layout/photography and photo-editing work I can take some good music :) And yes, I also have friends who need to go to Starbucks or Second Cup to write. We are not all the same, and thank goodness for that.

Beatrix KruemmerFrau

Posted on 3/3/16 8:36:23 PM Permalink

When it comes to creativity, I allow my students to use headsets with their favorite music. Strangely I have programmers in my class who can code with noise, a friend need Starbuck noise to code. For myself it depends a lot, I remember that some of my ugliest, but best sold jackets I have designed with ZZ-Top. My best stuff instead was made in the middle of the night with absolute silence.

Elias Ortega

Posted on 12/2/15 3:41:16 PM Permalink

Some of it may depend on personality styles. It could also be a white-noise effect. Music can set a rhythm for learning environments. I often teach with music. Developing a soundtrack for my classess aid me pacing and timing without having to check on the watch every so often.

Chris Schnell

Posted on 11/13/15 3:57:18 PM Permalink

thank you for sharing :-)

Andrea Payne

Posted on 11/10/15 3:34:05 PM Permalink

Thanks for sharing this article, Susanne! I tend to prefer quiet myself, but I don't insist on it in my classroom. I work with elementary students so silence is almost not possible for them!! In addition, I find that it is simply in their nature as social beings to need to discuss tasks and collaborate. I am however quite conscious of the fact that some students prefer quiet (as I do!), and I'm trying to figure out the right balance. I provide a few pairs of noise cancelling headphones that students can use if they are having difficulty drowning out classroom noise and focusing on work - I have two kinds: the construction-grade ear protection ones for complete silence, as well as the audio ones so they can listen to music or ambient noise. I've found that especially many students with ADHD make use of these headphones when they feel overwhelmed and need to focus. But on the whole, I find that my students are happier and tend to do better quality work when I allow them to collaborate and talk out their ideas (as Eliot said below...)

Eliot Attridge

Posted on 11/8/15 9:51:25 PM Permalink

Very interesting! I wonder how much silent classes prevent students from expressing ideas & learning- even non-creative classes.

I don't like (or insist) on complete silence in my science classes. I think students need to communicate to vocalise their ideas- e.g. about reading, about what the teacher has said, about what difficulties they are having. So having some level of 'noise' would be a good thing. Issues arise when there is too much noise related to distractions- but that just requires the teacher to bring them back on task.