Music in the Shop

      Is it good, bad, or both? June 22, 2005

Question
I have had a one man shop for many years and I have music playing 100% of the time. It relaxes me and keeps the day's events enjoyable. I find it to be one of my most important tools. Am I alone or does everyone do this?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
I too have a one man shop and listen to live Grateful Dead music all the time. It keeps me pumped up and focused all day long.



I too am a 1 man shop. I have a local radio station playing 90% of the time. Most of the time I don't even hear it because of concentrating on the business at hand. When a good/great song comes on it gets cranked. Though I have a remote control that I can use to raise/lower the volume, I rarely use it.


Gotta have music in the shop 100% of the time. My preferred radio station listening starts with Howard Stern at 6:00 am. We have Howard on "The Buzz" till 10:00 am, then switch over to Metallica type music. The music definitely increases my creativity.


I dig music, I dig commentary, sports, talk radio, news. And heck yes, jamming some captain trips sure makes 12 hours of work fly by, but as a manager, if I have to speak over your radio to convey important information, we are going to have issues with "your" radio.


No music here - there is enough noise. At the job site, I asked the electrician to turn it down, he didn't, I did, he turned it up, I cut the cord off with a hatchet. End of problem. He got fired next week.


I love working to screaming metal. At my first cabinetmaking job, I made a lot of other workers mad with the "Death Tunes". I refused to cut the volume down and got punched in the mouth one day. (Thanks, Tony!) I learned that other people don't always like my kind of music at 7:00 am. Listening to metal used to make me want to drink on the job, but that is very dangerous. I am much older and wiser now and after running my thumb over a jointer one afternoon, I sobered up for life. Rock on!


I prefer silence. I do a lot of complex work and like to keep my mind on it. Definitely do not like working in some house with subs who think their most important tool is their boom box. You know the type - that radio is the first thing out of the truck. I work alone and will play a few tunes while doing hand tool work in the shop.


It is a real drag to walk in the assembly area and find everyone has a radio and they are all tuned in on different stations. I can not concentrate at all to that ruckus. I think it does effect safety and one's awareness of the surroundings. I once saw a guy so focused on his tunes and not on his work that he bored a 32mm cup hole in his hand with a Blum hinge machine. Safety first!


Shops with several radios tuned to individual stations sounds like madness. Does this really go on a lot or is this rare? Does management impose decibel levels or what?


I once worked in a shop like that where all the young dudes were competing with their boom boxes and management canceled the privilege, which pleased me immensely.


As I was gluing up some doors yesterday (with the Allman Bros. on), I was thinking that we have a pretty good life being able to create things with our hands and heads. Even though sometimes we don't make the money that we should be making because we are suffering for our art, we are not suffering too badly. I'm glad to see that most of us appreciate other art forms as well.


In our shop we listen to talk radio and whatever the other guys want. Sometimes I could care less, but if the radio is turned up loud, I give one warning to keep it down, then any bonuses that were going to be given that month stay in my pocket. Only happened once and I have never heard it loud again. One guy told me that it was not fair to do that and I told him to go get his own shop and then he can play it loud. I find most guys can do their job even with it on.


Talk to teacher types and you'll find that there are learning styles. Some students need it very quiet for intense work/study and others need a little background music (note background, note foreground!). Usually, those requiring quiet also want it bright. Those needing music want it darker. If you ask my kids, and maybe my help, if there is a problem that needs concentration, they know to be quiet and stay out of my light source or I get upset. So, check yourself against this and also think about your help and see if it makes any sense.


In our 3 man shop, the radio stays at a moderately low level until I start to sing along... Then somebody always turns it up.


Music is magic to the ears and body. Amazing when everyone cranks their tunes up, how a little polka music can shut it all down and bring order to the mess. Those oo-pa's penetrate. Learned that lesson in the military service. I prefer long hair music on the low side so I can hear the buzzer or talk radio so we know when something critical is happening in the world. It's my choice and not the employee's. Do not need an accident or higher insurance rates.


In our shop we use wireless headphones - that way everyone has the option to listen or not and how loud. We use two transmission towers, so we have a choice of two stations.


Gotta have the music. Snow blowing, the heat's up and the music's on. What could be finer?


As a one man shop, I always have music on. I recently got xm radio and am in heaven. Great variety.


I went with XM radio a few months back. It's great and there's a wide selection of whatever you want. The cost for the receiver and docking station with remote was around $150. It costs me $6.95 per month for the service because I have it in my vehicle also and the second account is cheaper. It's great and I enjoy it, but it is kept at a lower volume so I can concentrate.


One man shop here and I have discovered the pleasures of digital radio streaming through my computer. Same computer that does all business... the sound board is simply plugged into a stereo receiver. For a few bucks a month I can sit down at my computer and type in just about any album I want, and click... it plays! (I use Musicmatch.) I also have discovered "etree", which is a place where artists allow folks to post off-the-soundboard recordings for download. I've gotten a pretty good collection of excellent live concerts that way.


I work in a 35 man shop and at least half of the people there have a boom box at their bench or work station. A few wear Walkmen or the Peltor phones with am/fm built in. The volume varies from just audible over the din of the shop noise to annoyingly loud. The part that bothers me is when employees start thrashing their heads around in time to whatever is playing on their personal listening device (PLD) or doing the air guitar thing. I can't help but believe that their mind isn't on the job at hand, which will probably result in rework or personal injury, not to mention lost productivity. I've listened to music while I've worked before and at certain times it works well for me. In my current position though, I need to give all of my attention to the projects I'm involved in. That's just what works best for me.


I have a system in the shop, being in Nashville, TN. There is always a Merle Haggard CD in, but I only listen on days when I'm gluing up panels and doors, drinking Bud Light and eating lortabs, but on machinery days, I try to keep the music down, and the mind clear. Tunes just sound better when you have a buzz, and a buzz and a saw don't mix, unless it's a buzz saw.


I usually have my Ipod on. I use the Apple earbuds, which don't seal real tight and I can still hear if I need to. But sometimes if I'm real busy, I just tell the receptionist that I'm not available, and crank it up. I find I focus much better - it's kind of like being in my own world.

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