Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff
We recently took Sarah Palin to task for dismissing the National Endowment for the Arts as a waste of tax dollars. Art, we argued, matters to human development and the economy. In the case of classical music, art also deters crime. More specifically, it sends misbehaved teenagers scattering. David Ng at Culture Monster reports:
Whether its Handel piped into New York's Port Authority or Tchaikovsky at a public library in London, the sound of classical music is apparently so repellent to teenagers that it sends them scurrying away like frightened mice. Private institutions also find it useful: chains such as McDonald's and 7-Eleven, not to mention countless shopping malls around the world, have relied on classical music to shoo away potentially troublesome kids.
In the latest example of classical repulsion, the regional transit department in the Portland, Ore., area has been playing orchestral and operatic tunes over speakers at light-rail stations in an attempt to prevent vandalism and other crimes that result from teens having too much free time on their hands.
Theories differ as to why teens react to classical music this way. Some experts believe the music has a soothing effect, while others think it has to do more with negative neurological response. Either way, if this genre of music prevents crime by teens perhaps we ought to invest more on classical music. Another argument in favor of classical music: It can also inspire students in the classroom to learn.-- Alexandra Le Tellier
Credit: The TriMet light-rail service in Portland, Ore., has begun playing classical music at train stations in an effort to ward off the kind of crimes that happen when people just hang around. A bill making its way through the Oregon Legislature would expand the program to all light-rail stops in Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah counties deemed high-crime areas by police or residents. Credit: Rick Bowmer / Associated Press