Our local supermarket had a problem. In the evenings young people were gathering outside (nowhere else to go?) and causing older customers some discomfort by their noise and what was perceived as threatening behaviour. So the manager installed outside speakers and played loud classical music. It has been judged, says our local newspaper, a resounding success with potential troublemakers driven away by the music of Mozart and Tchaikovsky. Business was booming and more mature customers were not only stopping to listen to the music, but increasingly were choosing to shop in the evenings so that they can.
The regional loss prevention manager of this supermarket chain is reported to have said ‘we already know that different types of music affect people in different ways, and we have proved that classical music does move youths on. Playing the music makes our shops less cool as places for youngsters to hang out, and can make life much easier for our customers and staff.’
Concert halls around the country are doing all they can to attract young people to orchestral music with special programmes and lowering the cost of tickets, working hard to create an audience for tomorrow.
The academies produce a flow of young musicians, and schools, after years of neglect, are increasing the musical curriculum and tuition. All to no avail it seems. Surely not. But if an age gap in musical appreciation exists, I wish it wasn’t aggravated by this method of commercial protection.
The interesting thing would be if this practice ended up as a means of conversion, and gradually the ‘yobs’ – as the headline calls them – were so influenced by what they were hearing that a new generation of young music lovers was born!
…meanwhile, I wonder where those young people now hang out. And since when have public spaces been only for shoppers?