Don’t Play That Funky Muzak

“Busy subway station,” © 2009 Christian H., used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

“Busy subway station,” © 2009 Christian H., used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

You hear it everywhere — the grocery store, subway stations, the doctor’s office — smooth jazz or classical music, derisively referred to as “muzak.” You probably just tune it out most of the time, but apparently there’s a very real reason it’s playing, at least in certain places.

Some experts believe playing classical music not only creates a soothing ambiance, but also drives away vagrants and vandals. A recent story on WQXR shed some light on the practice, and writes about a musician who’s trying to use it to his advantage by releasing an album called Music to Drive Away Loiterers.

However, not everyone is on board with the idea. A group called Pipedown is campaigning against muzak for various reasons, including some health-related ones (apparently it can actually raise stress levels).

What struck us though, and what could have a direct effect on musicians and the venues they perform in, is the anecdotal evidence from music teachers who say muzak makes it difficult for them to get children engaged in other forms of music, since it now comes at them nonstop.

We’ve already discussed the importance of hooking kids while they’re young, but is piped-in music preventing this from happening?

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