Music is a form of art that gives humans the opportunity to share their emotions/ideas through the medium of instruments to produce sounds. We, as humans, listen to music for a variety of purposes ranging from relaxation to boosting our confidence. The one common thing about listening to music, however, is that there is always a motive behind why we listen to the music we’re listening to.
When we’re cubing, our minds are often in a state of intense focus (during serious solves) or just chilling (during casual solves). In either case, the urge to listen to music exists within some people and the impacts of this music are many, as we will explore in this blog. Regardless of your preference, listening to music always bears some impact when paired with an activity such as cubing.
Why People Do It
Popular research has proven that listening to music can relieve stress, improve brain function, increase alertness and enhance your mood and memory capacity. When combined with cubing, this could result in more focus while solving, which could manifest itself as more accurate turning, fewer lockups, and better lookahead.
Enhanced memory capacity can give you the ability to increase your awareness while solving, meaning quicker pattern recognition and execution speed. This in turn helps you get faster without having to strain your brain too much. However, doesn’t all this seem too easy? If this is such an effective shortcut, why aren’t more people using it?
That’s because it affects different people in different ways. Let us see the major impacts of listening to music while cubing.
Should You Do It?
Well, this is a question that can only be answered by experimentation. As with many things in life, you can give it a try and figure out if it’s for you or not. The next time you’re going to cube, try plugging in your favourite music and entering a zone mentally that gives you a boost while cubing. If this seems too hard and you’re unable to focus, this doesn’t mean you give up! This could mean that the type of music isn’t suiting your solving state and it’s time to change it up and try something new.
That brings us to our next section. Perhaps it isn’t about just the presence of music while cubing, but also about exactly what that music is!
Can What You’re Listening To Affect Your Solves Differently?
The simple answer is yes. It surely has a different effect on your mind and the way to figure out what works is to explore the variety of genres available. For example, I personally like jazz fusion or metal when I’m grinding but when I’m solving casually, I’m more into pop and EDM. Similarly, someone might find metal severely disorienting and might enjoy lofi beats more.
It varies for different people but the avenues for exploration are numerous. Try your hand at new genres if the old ones don’t seem to be helping and always remember that the aim is not to improve your times instantly. It is mainly to improve your mental awareness and focus in order to better understand your own solutions and work on them!
Music can only be a supporter, not a promoter, which means that it won’t accelerate your performance but rather stabilize it to an extent where you feel comfortable in your own solving space. This is where it becomes important to know both the pros and cons of something. So, let’s look at some of the cons, so to speak, of listening to music while cubing.
One key disadvantage is that competitors aren’t allowed to listen to music while solving at official WCA competitions. This means that whatever benefits you might cultivate by listening to music while practicing, you will not get them directly while competing. Many cubers may prefer to simulate a competition environment down to the finest detail at home in order to ensure that they’re always practicing for competition day.
Another downfall could be getting distracted and seeing your results degrade because of that. This can often be demotivating and cause you to stop practicing as seriously. These disadvantages, however, are inherent and avoidable with active thought and intent. In fact, if you can see the benefits of what they are instead of expecting too much out of them, you then end up enjoying the combination of music and cubing!
To conclude, it is useful to mention that listening to music while doing anything is an active choice that may benefit you or be unhelpful, but if your goal is set and your expectations are reasonable then it can certainly boost your mental state in ways you would never have imagined possible.
Don’t look at music as the instant magic item that improves your time but instead as a mental salve that can help you focus a bit more than usual. Focusing during competitions, where the situation is such that you cannot listen to music, is dependent on your mental state on the day and comes from within! Music helps you find the balance between fun and focus, which is extremely important to find especially for sports such as speedcubing.
Akshaansh Chilakapati is a speedcuber from Hyderabad who specializes in big cubes. He started cubing when he was 15 and has 5 years of cubing experience. He loves to play sports, and music and has a passion for astrophysics. He has attended 20 competitions and won a total of 64 podiums with 16 gold medals. He is also ranked 13th in India for the overall Sum of Ranks (SOR).