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Driving teenagers away with classical music
July 1, 2012 10:21 AM   Subscribe

The Mosquito AKA SonicScreen [previously] has long been deployed to prevent teenagers from hanging around where they are not always wanted. But now, in the UK, those that seek to rid themselves of troublesome youth have a new weapon of choice: classical music.

It's true. Walk around an increasing number of towns and cities in Britain and you will hear classical music being played at low volume on the public address system of bus stations and shopping centres. It was meant to create a soothing atmosphere, but the cops soon noticed that the kids were simply no longer hanging around
posted by MrMerlot (46 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Scunny jobcentre has Vivaldi as the hold music, I wonder if they've seen a decrease in teen claims?
posted by Jehan at 10:29 AM on July 1, 2012


Previously
posted by DU at 10:29 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


They did that in the Port Authority bus terminal in New York City a while back, and now even though there are fewer police stalking the halls, your chance of scoring a little junk or a quick handy is close to zilch.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:32 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, because rather than create an environment where kids can do their thing and have more entertaining, enriching, productive things to do than hang around bus stops and outside of stores being shitty, we've decided that it's cheaper to just make them feel unwelcome and drive them off so that they can go be shitty somewhere else. I'm sure that won't backfire in the long run. Great job, everyone!
posted by Scientist at 10:35 AM on July 1, 2012 [21 favorites]


This is nothing new...I recall hearing about this on NPR and how some cities in the U.S. were doing it and this was quite a few years ago.
posted by GavinR at 10:37 AM on July 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wait, is that why they play lovely classical music in Penn Station? And here I thought it was just because the music is so nice to listen to...
posted by ocherdraco at 10:38 AM on July 1, 2012


"Prevent and Discourage Anti-Social Behaviour and Loitering" being teenagers There, fixed that.

The subliminal voice that can only be heard by those between the ages of 11 and 18 is saying, of course, very, very quietly.... get off my lawn, get off my lawn, get off my lawn....
posted by HuronBob at 10:41 AM on July 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


"It had been a wonderful evening and what I needed now, to give it the perfect ending, was a little of the Ludwig Van."
posted by Sys Rq at 10:42 AM on July 1, 2012 [24 favorites]


We had problems with transients outside our apartment in Hollywood. Now, I have been homeless in Hollywood, and am sympathtic, but also do not have the resources to deal with disruptive people -- and there guys were disruptive, violent, drunk, and destructive. I don't like calling thenpolice except in extreme situtations, because I do not believe in criminalizing poverty, homelessness, and mental illness. But these fellows were making the neighborhood unsafe -- genuinely, as they would occassionally threaten violence.

I started playing classical music out my window. Opera, in particular. 15 minutes later, they were gone, and never came back.

Was it the best solution? I think the best solution would be for Los Angeles to figure out its homeless problem and provide genuine treatment for its mentally ill population. But, for individuals and businesses that must deal with the fallout of the city not addressing the problem, this strikes me as a pretty decent compromise.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:44 AM on July 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


The did this at the McDonalds at 3rd & Pike in Seattle (AKA "The smackdonalds") for a while without noticeable effect. They may have used country music for a while too.
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on July 1, 2012


posted by Bunny Ultramod I started playing classical music out my window. Opera, in particular. 15 minutes later, they were gone, and never came back.

So it was all over when the fat lady sang.
posted by mattdidthat at 10:47 AM on July 1, 2012 [15 favorites]


They started doing this in downtown Duluth about fifteen years ago because the olds were all nervous at the gatherings of ne'er-do-well youth. Soon thereafter, the Duluth hipster music scene really took off. So you can thank this attempt to drive off the teenagers for the creation of Trampled by Turtles.
posted by RedEmma at 10:47 AM on July 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


I said this in the previous thread; our subways have had classical music piped in since the eighties but it's more to promote the local symphony than any youth prevention purpose. The kids all hang out at the 7-11 anyway.
posted by octothorpe at 10:51 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


They may have used country music for a while too.

Now that would be an extreme tactical error. You're not supposed to drive off paying customers.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:51 AM on July 1, 2012


I love hearing the occasional Chopin Nocturne when I go up the escalator to my gate in the Port Authority. It makes me feel like I'm in a Kubrick film.
posted by invitapriore at 10:52 AM on July 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Here in the Ozarks they just have the bible thumpers come and witness to everyone hanging out on the square, or so my youngest step son tells me. As a teenager though, I personally loved classical music. In fact my first speeding ticket was due to Mozart's Symphony #25 in G minor. So, this may not have worked on me, but then again, I was already telling my fellow teens to get off my lawn at the age of 16...I skipped over maidenhood, and motherhood, and I think I went straight to crone.
posted by redheadedstepchild at 10:53 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


uhh... this might have the reverse impact on some teenagers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI-mDTdeKR8
posted by coolxcool=rad at 10:55 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like the classical music approach. As a form of marking your territory, it's a million times better than tagging.
posted by pracowity at 11:00 AM on July 1, 2012


As a form of marking your territory, it's a million times better than tagging.

I don't know about you but in any urban area around the world, the more intricate the tags, the less I feel like I'm going to be jumped. Tagging can communicate a lot.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 11:08 AM on July 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are loads better places for teens to hang out than the bus station. My suspicion is they loiter there because they're either too lazy to go anywhere else after getting off the bus or they simply lack enough knowledge of the town to find anywhere better.
posted by zoo at 11:13 AM on July 1, 2012


Yeah, I'm with coolxcool=rad. It's all fine until the kids start getting all into Ludwig Van and then they start with the ultraviolence.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:14 AM on July 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


I noticed them using a similar system at the entrances to suburban tube stations in London. They rarely play full pieces (or even, full movements); presumably this is to stop the likes of me loitering around to hear the final bars of the Eroica?

Hey man, wanna score some Mahler? Or at least reorchestrate it?
posted by Talkie Toaster at 11:26 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Rotten kids.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:34 AM on July 1, 2012


Poor strategy, this is just a gateway. It all starts with piped in classical music, then it's a small sonata, next thing you know it's a full blown symphony.
posted by arcticseal at 11:38 AM on July 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


My library does this intermittently, not only with classical but with jazz.

It seems to work a little, but I'm convinced it's not because of the music genre, but because it's uniformly bad versions of the musical genre.
I mean, who seriously wants to listen to an endless loop of modern jazz as interpreted by a 3rd year doctoral student?

Even teenagers raised in the "When in doubt, autotune" era can't stomach that.
posted by madajb at 11:43 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I started playing classical music out my window. Opera, in particular. 15 minutes later, they were gone, and never came back.

Oh, no no no. You didn't. Bunny, you didn't drive them off; they are just practicing their arias for their triumphal return!
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:14 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


one night at a Taco Bell I worked at long ago we tried this to shoo out a group of loitering high schoolers. Amused it work. then we switched to rap to get an older couple to leave. Also successful. Closing staff was quite amused by the night manager that day.
posted by AngelWuff at 1:17 PM on July 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I used a variation of this strategy at work. Some people would be driven away with aggressive rap, some with c&w, some with classical, some with jazz. When my office was empty, I could turn off the music and lay down some coding.
posted by fredludd at 1:40 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


“After that I had lovely Mozart, the Jupiter, and there were new pictures of different litsos to be ground and splashed, and it was after this that I thought I would have just one last disc only before crossing the border, and I wanted something starry and strong and very firm, so it was J. S. Back I had, the Brandenburg Concerto just for middle and lower strings. And, slooshying with different bliss than before, I viddied again this name on the paper I'd razrezzed that night, a long time ago it seemed, in that cottage called HOME. The name was about a clockwork orange. Listening to J. S. Bach, I began to pony better what that meant now, and I thought, slooshying away to the brown gorgeousness of the starry German master, that I would like to have tolchocked them both harder and ripped them to ribbons on their own floor.”
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


CBC had a good story on the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association's court challenge on using the mosquito to combat vandalism in and around Vancouver.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:14 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I worked at the local movie theatre, it would constantly wind up being swarmed by teenagers every Friday Night. We were an isolated building from the mall, but were an easy 5 minute walk from there. So every night around 9pm when the mall started to close and kick the kids out, they'd just hang out in the lobby or hang around outside the doors, often times forming an impenetrable barrier of hormones for normals to cross and see their movie.
Now technically, we couldn't kick the kids out of anywhere, as it's not illegal to just *be* in the lobby, and we'd have to have a cop car constantly patrolling the sidewalk in order for them to *not* just hang around outside, so our options were limited.
We had one option that worked with almost 100% effectiveness.
Lawrence Welk.
Our lobby speakers were the type that could be piped outside if we wanted to, so when it would get really bad, I'd head up stairs, pop in the cd and crank the volume as high as we could make it without driving our own staff insane.
The place would be cleared out by 10pm.

Now I did often feel bad, because no these kids did not have anywhere to go. Except they were the ones who told their parents to pick them up at 10:30. They had cell phones, they could have told their parent "Hey pick me up at 10 instead" but they didn't want to cut their time short with their friends. Fuck that noise, we're not getting paid to babysit your kids.
posted by WeX Majors at 3:38 PM on July 1, 2012


No offnse dude but this is kind of a weird post - this phenomenon isn't new at all: they were doing this everywhere when I was a teenager, which was in the nineties.

Maybe I'm a jaded old cynic, but I dunno, I just don't find anything inherently interesting about playing classical music at malls etc. I mean, if you wanted to get rid of old people you would switch it to Sepultura or something, would work just as well (now that's a post I would like to read!).
posted by smoke at 3:45 PM on July 1, 2012


An obvious response is the creation of The Classical Punks. Fighting the tide with boombox Kronos and Nancarrow.
posted by Twang at 4:10 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is one of those "trends" like carbonated milk that the media "discovers" every six months.
posted by straight at 5:54 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is one of those "trends" like carbonated milk that the media "discovers" every six months.

Wait, whoa. They make carbonated milk?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:07 PM on July 1, 2012


My local library does this, but with Al Jolson. Because...well, shit...if there's one place we don't want kids hanging around, it's the damned library. Only problem is that a high-volume rendition of Ole Man River tends to drive off everyone - me included. It really is a cunning plan.
posted by ninazer0 at 7:18 PM on July 1, 2012


I mean, if you wanted to get rid of old people you would switch it to Sepultura or something,
I would throw my daughter into her car seat and drive an hour out of my way to go to the mall that plays Sepultura over the PA.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:44 PM on July 1, 2012


4 years ago or so. It's 9PM. I'm hanging in the book stacks at a used bookstore in Somerville Mass. Nearby are an ice cream store, a cafe, and a Starbucks, the first and third of which are frequently the haunt of the young. A clique of preteens walks in. I ignore them. A moment later one coos "ooh, Mozart!" And they all start pawing through the sheet music shelves.

This classical music trick might not work forever.
posted by ocschwar at 8:06 PM on July 1, 2012


Tell Me No Lies: "Wait, whoa. They make carbonated milk?"

Apparently it's a thing.
posted by arcticseal at 9:09 PM on July 1, 2012


"Wait, whoa. They make carbonated milk?"

Apparently it's a thing.


I just threw up in my mouth a little.
posted by hippybear at 10:04 PM on July 1, 2012


I just threw up all over the floor.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:37 AM on July 2, 2012


I noticed them using a similar system at the entrances to suburban tube stations in London. They rarely play full pieces (or even, full movements); presumably this is to stop the likes of me loitering around to hear the final bars of the Eroica?

I always used this as a way to work out whether the bit of London I'd arrived in was more-than-averagely dodgy. They only play the music at sketchier stops, the stops with the police signs outside appealing for witnesses to last week's stabbing etc.
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 5:02 AM on July 2, 2012


On of the worst night's "sleep" I ever had was as a teenager on a climbing holiday in Fontainebleu.

We had run out of money almost immediately and so we'd been bivouacing in the woods for a few days. At the end of the holiday we came into the town, but couldn't find anywhere discreet to sleep. Eventually somebody remembered that when we'd arrived at the train station the week before, at 11ish, it had shut down and they'd turned all the lights off. So we hung around until 11ish, then went to the deserted station and set up our rollmats and sleeping bags among the Gauloise butts on the platform.

The two things we hadn't counted on were 1) France's reliance on rail freight, which meant that hundred-carriage-long trains came through the station at high speed. This happened about three or four times an hour, throughout the night.

and 2) the car park across the tracks was dissuading kids from hanging around there by playing the freakiest violin / accordion / piano music imaginable. Really spooky, the kind of stuff that the ghosts of lost Victorian children would listen to if they liked hanging out in multistorey carparks. Imagine something a bit like this, played at half speed. By something from your chilhood nightmares.

At one point in the small hours, a friend managed to sleep for a good twenty minutes through sheer exhaustion. The rest of us just sat up and tried not to suffer any permanent psychological damage from the experience. We didn't actually leave, though.
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 5:33 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the way, Diamanda Galas worked like a charm, when I wanted to close the bookstore. Makes *everyone* go away.
posted by RedEmma at 7:28 AM on July 2, 2012


If you really, really need to clear a place out, bagpipes work every time. Every time.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:22 AM on July 2, 2012


> If you really, really need to clear a place out, bagpipes work every time. Every time.

If it's Uillean pipes played well I will certainly hang around to listen. If it's a highland warbag played badly, yeah, I'll move along pretty smartly.
posted by jfuller at 1:13 PM on July 3, 2012


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