I remember watching a play over 15 years ago about a young shearer who was doing really well in a board race, when he fell apart. He was listening to music on headphones, and he threw them off. Someone, probably the woolhandler, said to him, something along the lines of “you were doing so well, what happened?” and he said “John Rowles came on”!
I have been thinking about this, so I’ve looked up the research, and most of it that I found says that music does not alter performance. I thought this was really odd, and couldn’t work out why being in the shed with music on was so much better than having no music. So I looked deeper again, and found that some of the research has been done by people who didn’t understand music so well. (Strange choice of research topic?!)
Then I found a study that found that the perceived effort was much lower when people performed exercise to music they liked, than when they listened to music that they didn’t like. The cyclists in this case also went further when the music they heard was their preferred choice. This makes the job feel easier as well as lowering your heart rate. Others have found that technical ability can improve while listening to preferred music, and that work output can also increase. What’s not to like?
So, good music can
Increase your productivity (better tallies, better back pocket)
Make the shearing day feel easier
Decrease the load on the heart, therefore improving recovery
Improved technical ability (another way to go fast, pinker sheep)
Increase your power
Further to this – listening to music that you don’t like can decrease your performance, make your job in the shed feel harder and increase your heart rate when working – so, what are you going to listen to keep make your job easier this week?