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Upward Music

The progress of the reformatory and prison systems during the last century has been one of the encouraging signs of human development. From the crudest kind of cruel discipline in the management of miscreants, we have advanced toward the scientific study of the psychological and physiological phases of the offender and the offence, so that, at the present time, the man behind bars to-day is treated as one of the unfortunate freaks of nature, who by means of certain methods may or may not be restored to society as a worthy member. The record of many "men who have come back" is a glorious wave, washing away much of the pessimism of the criminal systems of other days.
In a recent issue of Musical America there was an excellent article upon the results of music in the work of the Kansas State Reformatory. It was reported that the majority of the men became more trustworthy after being trained in chorus singing. In prisons all over the country music is being introduced more and more.
Many of the men who are now incarcerated have lost their liberty not because of innate wickedness, but because society has failed to understand them or has offered them an environment which has ensnared them in crime. Thus there are thousands of cases of so-called criminals who are really nothing more than undeveloped human beings—people who have never grown up, and who have no more control over their doings than little children. Thus a man may be thirty-five years of age, but when measured by the famous Binet tests he may have the mind and development of the child of ten or twelve. Music seems to have a peculiar effect in bringing many of these cases under the control of those who are working to help them. It is certainly a simpler remedy than the rawhide or the irons, and is likely to be far more effective when intelligently used. The whole subject is so vast that it offers unexampled fields for exploration. It is hardly likely that very much that is definite will be determined in the scientific administration of music in penal institutions for another half century. Meanwhile, however, the men and women, from whom society is temporarily protecting itself, should have music as often as is practicable.

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