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How Classical Music Can Reduce Crime, Benefit Your Mood and Increase Your Spending

To classical music enthusiasts, the genre needs no help in extolling its virtues, but researchers have come across some rather surprising benefits of classical music anyway. Among them is the finding that classical music has a penchant for deterring crime.

classical music

Armed with only a CD player and speakers, police units in the United States and the UK are fighting crime with classical music.

Robberies Cut by 33 Percent

In 2004 in London, England, the British Transport Police piped classical music into London Underground stations in some of the area's most dangerous neighborhoods. After playing the music for six months:

  • Robberies were cut by 33 percent

  • Staff assaults decreased by 25 percent

  • Vandalism went down 37 percent

This is not the first time that classical music has been used to deter crime. In 2001, police in West Palm Beach, Florida installed a CD player and speakers on an abandoned building in a crime-ridden neighborhood. After playing classical music -- mostly Mozart, Bach and Beethoven -- 24 hours a day for about three months, shootings, thefts, loiterers and drug deals decreased.

Classical Music Makes Troublemakers Disperse

A supermarket chain in the UK has also used classical music to stop gangs of youth from congregating outside their stores.

"It is mostly easy listening music that we are playing such as Bach, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi and Mozart. It is a novel concept, but it does work and does move people on," said regional loss prevention manager Steve Hogarth.

After playing the classical music at the front of the store, reports of troublemakers and graffiti were dramatically reduced.

"The fact that youths hang outside the store is not a crime in itself, but the perception among staff and customers is that it is intimidating. It seems to make it a 'less cool' place to hang out if there is classical music playing," said Hogarth.

Benefits for the Mind and Body

Hospitals are also exploring the use of classical music for patients, surgeons and visitors.

"Waiting rooms get one sound, a chapel gets music that's very beautiful and reflective with a spiritual context, such as instrumental pieces from a Bach cantata. In the maternity ward, tempos will be a bit faster, and we'll create a gentle atmosphere with cute instruments like the oboe and the harp, and include lots of lullabies. There's documentation that the effects of classical music on mind and body are remarkable," says Marc Rynearson, a classical programmer at DMX Music.

Soothing music like classical, for instance, is known to reduce stress and anxiety. One hospital study even found that heart patients received the same anti-anxiety benefits from listening to 30 minutes of classical music as they did from taking the drug Valium.

Some surgeons also report that classical music makes for a relaxed, efficient operating room.

classica music spending

Marketing experts have figured out a sneaky tool to get you to linger in a store and lose some of your ability to critically analyze your decision to make a purchase: classical music.

"I find classical music makes for a great environment in the OR," says Dr. Sidney Stapleton. "Often, when the music's playing, there's less chatter, and everyone's more efficient, you can concentrate when you need to, and the time passes quickly."

Classical Music Increases Spending

If you walk into a store that's playing classical music, be careful: the music is likely being played on purpose, as a tool to get you to buy more, as consumer advocate and columnist Brian Vaszily entertainingly explains in How Stores are Secretly Using Barry Manilow to Rob You.

"Music can help shape customers' time perception, lower sales resistance and increase willingness to spend," says James Kellaris, a marketing professor at the University of Cincinnati.

The complexity of classical music can actually make your brain work harder, causing it to overcompensate and make you feel like you've been in the store for less time than you actually have. Meanwhile, the music can make it more difficult for shoppers to use critical thinking in deciding whether to buy a product. The end result is spending more time in the store, buying more, and spending more money.

If you're interested in checking out how classical music will affect your own mood while at home or in the car, check out three of our favorites:

  • "Ode to Freedom: Bernstein Conducts Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Berlin" Perfect for a soothing Sunday at home.
  • "Vivaldi: The Four Seasons" Great music to get you going on your way to work.
  • "Webern: Passacaglia, Symphony, etc" Experience instant calm, even while sitting in rush-hour traffic.
  • Recommended Reading

    New Study Confirms It: Music is a Must for Your Good Health ... and Your Brain

    How Singing Improves Your Health (Even if Other People Shouldn't Hear You Singing)


    Hartlepool Today September 20, 2006

    USA Today: Classical Music on West Palm Corner Deters Crime

    Chicago Tribune September 6, 2006

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