Call to speak out on bullying and psychological/emotional abuse in music

In the last few weeks, more stories of sexual abuse in musical education, including new convictions, have come to light – I will be posting a summary of these later. But the subjects of bullying and psychological and emotional abuse, whether in musical education or the wider musical world, are easily sidelined and viewed is marginal in this context. They are not, and can be just as damaging as sexual abuse. A respected journalist in whom I have 100% faith will be preparing an article or articles looking at this wider and neglected (in part because not directly criminal) issue. I am posting this to invite anyone who would like to talk about this, either in terms of their own experiences or of things they have witnessed, or general perceptions, to contact me on . Absolutely confidentiality is guaranteed, and will be guaranteed if you seek to talk to the press on the subject.

There are too many ruined lives, wasted careers, cases of depression, self-harm and even sometimes suicide because of the callous and malicious acts of others who are protected by the aura of the classical musician. Please help to raise public awareness of these things, in the hope that in time there will be real pressure for change.

Emotional abuse is not always recognised for what it is, and there has been much less attention paid to it in an educational context. Here is an important article considering the subject, and here is an earlier scholarly article. On bullying at work, I recommend this site, this and this; and see here for bullying from teachers. The subject of bullying in the classical music world has hardly ever been addressed seriously; here is an interesting online discussion on the subject.

3 Comments on “Call to speak out on bullying and psychological/emotional abuse in music”

  1. Thank you once again for this.

    I am fortunate in that I never experienced, witnessed or even got to hear about any of the kind of treatment under discussion here at any time during my formal musical education. Perhaps I and others were simpy lucky, given that the plethora of evidence and other commentary has, especially over the past months, shown that this kind of thing has been rife for many years. I am therefore only in a position to support your sterling efforts here and to echo your encouragement of those with information to come forward without fear and share their direct knowledge and experience of the subject.

    Your final paragraph here is of especial pertinence; you have on several occasions referred in one way or another to “the aura of the classical musician” – the “Mæstro complex”, if you like; until reading what you have written on the subject, it had not occurred to me that musicians in positions of authority in specialist music education establishments would use thgis to bolster their abuse of that authority on such a scale by taking advantage of students who were/are for the most part minors – or indeed that others would go to such lengths to cover up such abuse – so I, like many others, am deeply indebted to you for bringing this to people’s attention with the persistence and determination that you have always shown when addressing these grave issues and for taking the not inconsiderable trouble to research the evidence and invite victims and others with knowledge to come forward with what will almost invariably be information whose very divulging will itself likely be profoundly traumatic for them.

    Certain sectors of music education in Britain are already subject to the stresses and strains of budgetary cuts and the like; it is therefore vital – not only in the interests of every music student and his/her family and friends and indeed those who teach music but also in the general public interest – that what has already been revealed in terms of a long and shameful history of such abuse lead to a full public inquiry in order that society can thereafter be rid of such behaviour and the future of music education be safeguarded against other political vested interests that might seek to take advantage of what has happened as an excuse further to curtail support for music education.

    I have been doing – and will continue to do – all that I am able to spread the word on this but, as i think most people here agree, nothing less than that full public inquiry will do.

  2. […] Call to speak out on bullying and psychological/emotional abuse in music (9/1/14) […]

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