Web edition: October 8, 2010
Print edition: October 23, 2010; Vol.178 #9 (p. 30)
Music on the mind
Common experience confirms that music serves language (“A mind for music,” SN: 8/14/10, p. 17). A person unfamiliar with, say, the musical South Pacific has only to listen to its songs a few times to sing the lyrics from memory. Another who tries to memorize the lyrics by just hearing them recited a few times will not succeed nearly as well. Now, why?
H. Charles Romesburg, Logan, Utah
Thanks for the special issue on music. Does music soothe the savage breast? I can’t say, but I’m pretty sure it has played a large role in keeping me (a lifelong musician) sane for the last 25 years of incarceration, and it serves the entire prison community by keeping dozens of creative, purpose-lacking minds occupied with an activity that keeps us largely out of further trouble. As Ian Cross mentioned (“Whatever music is, it’s a basic part of being human,” SN: 8/14/10, p. 36), music programs in schools often get the ax when money’s tight. Angered parents sometimes look for an opportunity to pass along the misfortune. Here in Pennsylvania state prisons, the authorities recently decided to end all music programs, even though funding came exclusively from profits earned by selling inmates munchies and cosmetics. Luckily, inmates may still buy and keep personal guitars and keyboards, purchase radios and borrow cassette tapes from the library. It might be interesting for some sociologist to study the difference a lack of formal music programming has on the correctional environment that used to have band room access. Keep up the great work. Not only do I love your magazine, but so do the uncounted guys to whom it gets passed when I’m done.
Paul Schlueter III, Dallas, Pa.