New Surrey Safeguarding Report on suicide of Frances Andrade draws attention to dangers of music educationPosted: April 10, 2014
A report published today by the Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board (which can be accessed here; a summary and press release can be downloaded here). There is much to be said about the long report and its comments on Chetham’s School, but I wanted for now to draw people’s attention to one passage in particular which is most pertinent:
Music schools, in common with other “hothousing” establishments, create pressures that may have a particularly damaging impact on young people who are vulnerable and/or without parental support. These settings are competitive, and feed into expectations already placed on the young person to be “special” and to succeed. The adults around them, who are often prominent performers in their own right, are invested with exceptional power and influence and are in a position of trust from which they exert considerable leverage over whether their pupils achieve success in their chosen fields. The music world is not alone in this regard, -similar pressures arise in elite sports academies, boarding schools, ballet schools, cathedral and choir schools, drama and performing arts courses, art schools and other areas of endeavour that create a backdrop for this very particular and potent form of grooming.
‘Chethams School provided an ideal environment for this kind of abuse to occur. The school seemed unaware of the risks of sexual abuse and it does not appear to have proactively promoted a child protection agenda. Boundaries were blurred and some staff seemed at times to act with impunity. When, Mrs A was sent, as a teenager, to live with MB and his family it was effectively a private fostering arrangement, put in place without any proper scrutiny or formal overview. The atmosphere of elite performance teaching created what one pupil described as a belief that you were “special”6 and it placed teachers in an exclusive and powerful position in relation to their protégés.
In response to this case another music teacher (MR), a man who had acted as a whistle-blower, published an article offering a window onto the culture in these circles at the time we are speaking of from which it can be seen that Mrs A was not alone in being at risk from abusive sexual relationships and unprofessional behaviour. MR later said,
Music lessons are one-to-one… So, if you’re determined to behave wrongly, there’s the opportunity: “It’s one of the easiest situations to abuse, I would have thought.”
He further discussed how music teaching in particular, takes place in a context of emotional intensity and that pupils’ crushes on staff are commonplace.
So this culture of sexualised behaviour between teachers and pupils that developed in the school at that time was, to some extent, known about and condoned. This culture may also have prevailed at the Royal Northern College of Music as there was considerable overlapping of staff, and this became the focus of contention specifically in relation to the appointment of ML to a senior post at the college. MR publicly confronted the principle of the college about the suitability of this appointment, given widespread allegations about ML’s sexual exploitation of young women students, at considerable cost to his career7. When he made his concerns public, he received many letters of support from students disclosing past abuses and concerns. Mrs A was one such pupil/student. When his whistle-blower’s warnings went unheeded, he recounted that
“Letters from pupils and professional musicians poured in, one was from [Mrs A] … She was a force to be reckoned with …”There was tremendous passion and anger.” Chethams therefore represented a very particular context in which it was possible for MB to target and groom Mrs A from a position of trust, power and influence. Although it seems to have been common knowledge that some teachers within the music network around Chethams and the Royal Northern Music School had sexual relationships with their pupils this was not formally addressed.
1. THIS REVIEW DID NOT HAVE A MANDATE TO COMMENT ON ISSUES OF CHILD PROTECTION BUT URGES CHILDREN’S SAFEGUARDING BOARDS AND THE INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS INSPECTORATE TO PAY ATTENTION TO ALL SCHOOLS ESPECIALLY, BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY, BOARDING SCHOOLS INCLUDING THOSE CONCERNED WITH “SPECIAL” PUPILS OR THOSE THAT HAVE ELITE STATUS. THIS INCLUDES SO CALLED “FREE” SCHOOLS THAT EXIST TO SOME EXTENT OUTSIDE OF LOCAL NETWORKS.
Having written about this very subject myself almost a year ago (Ian Pace, ‘The culture of music education lends itself to abuse’, Times Education Supplement, May 11th, 2013), I am more than glad that others are starting to recognise this issue and the particular problems inherent to musical education. More to follow later.
On Wednesday, February 12th, the following press release was made available by City of London police (copied here from the blog post on the subject on Slipped Disc):
Man charged over historic sex offences
City of London Police has today, Wednesday 12th February, charged a 63-year-old man with 15 historic offences, relating to nine separate victims.
These charges include eight counts of indecent assault, three counts of rape, two counts of false imprisonment, one count of assault and one count of attempted rape.
Philip John Pickett, from Lyneham, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, a former freelance teacher at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama is accused of,
Rape (contrary to section 1(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st October 1977 and 30th November 1977.
Rape (contrary to section 1(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st October 1977 and 30th April 1978.
Rape (contrary to section 1(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st September 1978 and 30th September 1978.
Attempted rape (contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981), which occurred between 1st January 1988 and 30th January 1988.
Indecent assault (contrary to section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st January 1974 and 31st December 1974.
Indecent assault (contrary to section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st January 1974 and 31st December 1975.
Indecent assault (contrary to section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st September 1978 and 30th September 1978.
Indecent assault (contrary to section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st January 1977 and 31st December 1979.
Indecent assault (contrary to section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st January 1980 and 31st December 1981.
Indecent assault (contrary to section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st January 1983 and 31st December 1984.
Indecent assault (contrary to section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st January 1988 and 31st December 1988.
Indecent assault (contrary to section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956), which occurred between 1st January 1988 and 31st December 1988.
Assault occasioning actual bodily harm, which occurred between 1st January 1971 and 31st December 1974.
False imprisonment which occurred between 1st October 1977 and 30th November 1977
False imprisonment which occurred between 1st January 1988 and 31st December 1988.
Mr Pickett, who was a freelance teacher at the school between 1972 and 1997, has been bailed to attend City Magistrates Court on 28th February.
Anyone with information that may assist with this investigation is encouraged to contact City of London Police on 020 7601 8177/8175 or via the 101 non emergency number, you can also email: email@example.com. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
As charges have been brought, I would request that no-one comment here upon this case until after a trial is over.
[UPDATE: A report in the Oxford Mail on Tuesday March 18th, 2014 indicates that Pickett’s trial has been postponed from October 2014 to January 2015 so that the musician can finish touring. Defence barrister Jonathan Barnard said at the Old Bailey ‘My client is a world famous musician and therefore earns his living on a job to job basis and has tours across the globe throughout the autumn – but the season slows down in the new year’. The Crown agreed on the grounds that ‘the allegations are at the latest 20 years old and the earliest, 40 years old’.
Once again, I request no comments upon the case until after the end of the trial.]
On another subject, for the first time since the Michael Brewer, Clare Moreland, head teacher at Chetham’s, agreed to be interviewed by Richard Morrison for The Times yesterday. Morrison himself wrote the following in April of last year:
As a teenager in the late 1960s and early ’70s I had four music teachers who shaped my life. Three were perverts – a not especially large percentage of paedophiles for a musical boy to encounter in that era. The first, the organist at the church where I was a choirboy, placed a clammy hand on his organ pupils’ thighs if they made pedalling mistakes – which was often in my case, since the clammy hand itself induced nervousness (as it was perhaps intended to do). The second, my piano teacher, a professor at a London conservatoire, regularly touched the breasts of both my sisters, who also studied with him. The third, my university tutor, liked to stand right behind male undergraduates as we struggled through keyboard harmony – then run his fingers through our hair.
Since all three are long dead I see no point in ‘outing’ them now. And at the time, msuical children – especially choirboys, or those in hothouse music schools – simply accepted this low-grade but continual molestation from teachers as par for the course. I must also say that each of my teachers was an outstanding musician. They taught me a lot, and their groping did no lasting harm. In that respect I was lucky.’ (Richard Morrison, ‘Music teaching’s dark past is in danger of destroying its future., BBC Music Magazine, April 2013, p. 25).
The interview in The Times (behind a paywall), contains the following passage:
In the eye of the storm has been Claire Moreland, the head teacher since 1999. On legal advice she has said nothing to the press since the crisis began. She broke her silence to talk to The Times. Looking pale, and with her voice often tremulous, she nevertheless defended vigorously the school’s actions over the past year.
When did she first know something was wrong? “I learnt about the possible police investigation of Mike Brewer in late 2011 and I was asked to keep that in confidence,” she replied. “The police came back to see me in 2012 and said they would be carrying out an investigation. As you know the Crown Court case started just over a year ago.” And when did it occur to her that this would be a much larger problem than just one isolated case? “It became increasingly apparent – given the context of the other cases of historic abuse recently come to public attention, the timing and outcome of the Brewer case, and the tragic suicide. We knew that this was bigger when we heard from the police that they were launching a much wider investigation.” (Richard Morrison, ‘Does Chetham’s have a future?’, The Times, 12/2/14).
But this does not appear to concur with a report published two weeks ago in The Independent:
In letters obtained by The Independent, a former Chetham’s pupil wrote to Mrs Moreland and said her “cries for help were met with disbelief”.
Mrs Moreland, who was not head teacher at the time the assaults were said to have occurred, replied in 2002. She said: “Legislation over the last two decades and an increasing awareness of issues surrounding teachers and students means that all schools these days are well-equipped to deal with any allegations.”
In 2002, Professor Gregson replied to another complainant, saying: “I do believe there is a more balanced view which, whilst not condoning [the teacher’s] past, does treat it in a more forgiving manner.”
In a reply to another woman, Mrs Moreland said in 2002: “We have excellent pastoral care systems at Chetham’s and naturally do our utmost to ensure that all the children in our care are extremely wel looked after at all times.”
Operation Kiso is currently looking at sex abuse allegations dating to as recently as 2006, however.
The investigation began after Michael Brewer, the former director of music at Chetham’s, was jailed for six years last March for indecently assaulting a pupil. His victim, Frances Andrade, killed herself after giving evidence against him at his trial, having been accused of lying during cross-examination.
Mrs Andrade had written to Professor Gregson in 2002 regarding sexual abuse claims. Professor Gregson accused her of writing an “emotive letter” that was “potentially libellous”. Mrs Moreland has insisted the sexual abuse allegations are “historic” and that child protection policies at Chetham’s have changed. (Paul Gallagher, ‘Elite music school Chetham’s loses pupils in backlash at allegations of historic sexual abuse’, The Independent, 28/1/14).
Nowhere in the Moreland interview is there any sign of concern for what former pupils might have suffered; the only concern seems to be to rejuvenate the reputation of the school. This attitude should be seen for what it is.
New stories and convictions of abuse in musical education, and the film of the Institute of Ideas debatePosted: January 11, 2014
In the last few weeks a series of new stories have come out relating to abuse in musical education. One of those was about the pianist and composer Ian Lake, who taught at Watford School of Music and the Royal College of Music (RCM), had received a little-reported conviction of a sexual offence (of which details remain hazy) in 1995, but was revealed to be a serial abuser; I wrote about the Lake story here. One of the victims spoke of how she went to the then-principal of the RCM, Michael Gough Matthews (who was Principal from 1985 to 1993, and who died last year), and whilst she was given a change of teacher, nothing else happened, so Lake was free to do the same to others. This type of process has been described by multiple victims at different institutions (including, for example, victims of Ryszard Bakst at the Royal Northern College of Music). Matthews’ successor as Principal, Dame Janet Ritterman, who was Principal at the RCM at the time when Lake was convicted (and is now Chancellor of Middlesex University), has been contacted for comment about what was known about Lake, but has declined to respond. One victim was very keen to make clear how safe and relieved she felt after speaking to the journalist Paul Gallagher, and has posted to that effect under another name as a comment under my blog post on Lake.
An article in today’s Independent names another late teacher at the RCM, Hervey Alan, as having attempted a sexual assault on a student; again, when she complained, she received a change of teacher, but no further action was taken. Furthermore, the victim (who was also a student of Lake’s on the piano) underwent a second attempted assault from a college porter, about which nothing was done after she complained. This woman has also detailed the ways in which not being prepared to respond to sexual advances in the professional world could hinder one’s career, a story which is all too familiar, and needs to be considered seriously alongside all the other dimensions to this issue. I have argued for a while that the granting of unchecked power to prominent musicians, administrators, and fixers almost invites the corruption of such power, and more, rather than less, state intervention is needed to ensure that proper employment practices are observed in a freelance world. Many musicians would hate this, for sure, and claim it represented an unwarranted intrusion by government into a field which should be driven by ‘purely musical’ concerns, but in my view the latter serve as a smokescreen for cynical and callous power games.
Several other stories have come to light recently. Robin Zebaida, pianist and examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM, responsible for the ‘grade’ exams that many young musicians take) since 1998, was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year old girl at the same time as he was seducing her mother; Zebaida received a two-year conditional discharge, was made to sign the sex offenders register for two years, and pay a £15 victim surcharge. The trial heard of romantic evenings with plentiful alcohol with Zebaida kissing the mother whilst groping the daughter; Zebaida would also claim he touched the daughter lightly on account of back problems she suffered following a car crash which had killed her father and brother. (see reports here, here and here; and also ‘Pianist guilty of sex assault on teenager’, The Daily Telegraph, 3/12/13 – not available online). I am not aware of the ABRSM having made any comment.
In November, Philip Evans, music teacher at the private King Edward’s School, Edgbaston, Birmingham (which dates from 1552 and was set up by Edward VI), pleaded guilty to seven sexual assaults, ten charges of making indecent photographs of children, and six counts of voyeurism; more than 400 000 indecent images were found on his computer (Press Association, ‘Teacher Admits Sexual Assault, 28/11/13). The trial found that Evans, who had also acted as an RAF ‘leader’ in the school’s Combined Cadet Force, had abused teenage boys whilst pretending to measure them for their school uniforms, and installed high tech equipment in changing rooms and showers to film pupils. Evans was sentenced in December to three years and eight months imprisonment (see reports here, here – and here).
A further case was overshadowed by the Michael Brewer trial last year; that of music teacher at various East London schools and choirmaster Michael Crombie. Crombie had first gone on trial in November 2010, then aged 73, on 28 charges of indecent assault upon nine girls aged under 16 and child pornography offences from between 1992 and 2002. The court heard that Crombie had forced young girls to strip and duck their heads in a fish tank, then he would video them. He told one girl aged between 10 and 12 that this technique, ‘bubbling’, would help improve her recorder playing. The court saw a video of a young girl with her wrists and legs bound with his tie, trying to break free and gasping for air before being pushed back into the water. Crombie would also take girls on his lap and molest them under the pretext of helping them with breathing exercises. The court heard that victims were unable to complain because of Crombie’s eminence (he was also a Rotary Club member). He was found guilty of 26 of the charges and jailed for seven years, as well as being ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for life, and banned from unsupervised contact with children (see here, and here; also ‘Teacher ‘filmed pupils in his bath’’, Metro, 18/11/10, Fiona Hamilton, ‘Music teacher abused girls during lessons’, The Times, 27/11/10, Mike Sullivan, ‘Perv Sir’s ‘drown’ sessions’, The Sun, 27/11/10, not available online).
In December 2012, Crombie admitted 47 further counts of indecent assaults upon children between 1964 and 1993, and two counts of sexual activity with a child; these included 16 cases which took place at Beal Grammar School and Wanstead High School when Crombie was a teacher there; most of the others occurred when he worked as a private music tutor between 1991 and 2002. 30 new victims, aged between 11 and 17 at the time of the offences, had come forward, after one had been outraged by Crombie’s asking her to act as a character reference during his previous trial in 2010. She described how he would regularly kiss her, ask her to turn up to lessons naked, and imagine how she would feel if he were to rape her, leading to her running out screaming. Another said he told her whilst groping and kissing ‘if you sing the notes right this wouldn’t be happening’. Crombie had had a sexual fling with a 14-year old girl to who he was teaching bassoon at Beal Grammar School, her parents ultimately trusting him to babysit her at home. He would persuade her to perform sex acts upon him in the school’s music room cupboard and also while he was driving. In January 2013, Crombie received a seven-year jail sentence, his earlier sentence having been reduced to five on appeal, so that he had been due for release in May 2013. The judge sharply criticised the school authorities for allowing Crombie to carry on unchallenged for 30 years, noting that complaints had been made to the school on a number of occasion, but no adequate action had been taken (see here, here, and here; also Press Association, ‘Ex-Music Teacher admits Sex Attacks’, 21/12/12; Press Association, ‘Judge criticises School Authorities’, 25/1/13).
An independent inquiry was launched by the Local Safeguarding Childen’s Board at Redbridge, considering which safeguarding systems and processes were in place during the period of Crombie’s serial abuse; this does not appear to have been completed yet (‘Independent inquiry launched into Redbridge music teacher’s abuse of young girls since the 1960s’, Ilford Recorder, 31/1/13).
Following the first conviction, Norman Lebrecht wrote:
And then ask why it always has to be music teachers, and why so often in Britain. Is it because music, like sport, has tactile teaching elements that attract perverts? Or does music grant a license to perverts to act out their fantasies?
I have no statistics to hand, but it’s Don Giovanni to a string quartet that there are ten times as many music teachers who are caught molesting pupils as chemistry or geography beaks. Now why is that? Does music, in some obscure way, attract sadists and corrupters?
Now Greater Manchester Police have made clear that they are considering extradition proceedings against former Chetham’s teacher Chris Ling, about whom multiple accusations of child abuse were made public in February 2013 (see the reports in The Guardian here,here, here, and here. An earlier investigation in 1990, after Ling had left the UK for the US, was dropped, then reopened in 2013, as part of Operation Kiso. Ling had indicated that he might return to the UK for questioning, but never came back. Three other current or former Chetham’s teachers – violin teachers Wen Zhou Li and Malcolm Layfield and conducting teacher Nicholas Smith – and one from the RNCM – double bassist Duncan McTier (now a professor at the Royal Academy of Music) – have all been arrested and the Crown Prosecution Service are currently considering whether to bring charges or rape and/or sexual assault against them
(here, here, and here. Also, The Independent named leading early music director Philip Pickett as the former Guildhall School tutor who has been arrested on multiple counts of rape and sexual assault.
Lucy Powell, Labour MP for Manchester Central, whose constituency includes both Chetham’s and the RNCM, and also Shadow Spokesperson for Childcare, has made clear her support either for a special inquiry into abuse in musical education as part of Operation Yewtree, or a separate public inquiry. Various other MPs have expressed their support, not least former Children’s Minister, Conservative MP Tim Loughton, who tweeted on January 6th ‘Calls for single overarching enquiry into historic child abuse post Savile louder than ever-I’ve asked the PM twice now, will try again’ (@timloughton).
There are so many more cases past and present of which I have been made aware, and cannot share for reasons of confidentiality; and only a small minority take the related issues of widespread bullying, psychological and emotional abuse in both music education and the music profession seriously (see my previous post inviting people to come forward and talk about this subject). If more people knew the extent of this, they would see the necessity of pushing, and not stopping pushing, for action. Hopefully some of the recent revelations may impress on more the seriousness. I have very good reason to believe that these issues are far from merely historic, and that in various institutions abuse may be continuing to this day, and even that some abusers may be using distant foreign trips connected to musical education for this purpose.
One place where a majority of the participants certainly thought otherwise was the Institute of Ideas debate at the Barbican Centre in October 2013, about which I earlier blogged here. The full debate can now be viewed online here – I invite people to watch it and see the rather contemptuous way in which the issues is treated in particular by panellists Heather Piper, Frank Furedi and chair Clare Fox. With the exception primarily of the important contribution by Professor of Education and Music Psychology Susan Hallam, most of the contributions from the panel and indeed from the floor (with the exception of rather angry responses by myself and another former Chetham’s pupil) seem most concerned about any disruption or change to the situation for music teachers, how it would be so terrible for there to be limits on physical contact, how the important thing is about how music ‘touches the soul’, and so on. I felt quite sick after this debate, and the way it was cynically engineered so as to trivialise the whole issue. The rot at the heart of the classical music world needs to be addressed properly as a matter of urgency, however much some will sneer, minimise or dismiss the issue, shy away from things or protect others in the interests of furthering their own career.
It is nearly ten months since the conviction of Michael and Kay Brewer on charges of sexual assault whilst Michael Brewer was Director of Music at Chetham’s School of Music, during a tragic trial in the course of which the victim, Frances Andrade, took her own life. Since this conviction, there have been a flood of allegations relating to widespread sexual, physical and emotional abuse at all of the five specialist music schools in the UK (as for example with the cases of Marcel Gazelle and Robert Waddington), and all the major music colleges as well, as well as further allegations pointing to a widespread culture of collusion, complicity and cover-up of these practices within these institutions. Police investigations have proceeded, and to date there have been a number of arrests of individuals connected to Chetham’s, the Royal Northern College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, some of which may result in criminal charges. However, police have made it clear that it is not possible for them to investigate cases where the perpetrator is now dead, where the victim was over 16 and the events in question took place before the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, or in other cases (especially concerning serious psychological and emotional abuse) where there is no direct criminality involved. Furthermore, it is beyond the scope of a police investigation to look deeper into questions of institutional responsibility for this phenomenon, or the wider culture and values of musical education which may have played a part in allowing these alleged events to happen. Beyond this, in the close-knit world of classical music, where it is practically impossible for victims to remain anonymous even if not named in the press, there has grown since February an atmosphere of fear, intimidation and ostracisation from some quarters (including other musicians and some alumni communities), by individuals disdaining anything which might blacken the names of various ‘great musicians’ or taint the name of institutions, such as can act as a deterrent towards those who might have thought of coming forward. Such a deterrent also has to be set alongside knowledge of the terrible plight of Andrade, which remains in many people’s minds. Some of the institutions are clearly treating this primarily as an issue of their own reputations, with Chetham’s having been revealed to be employing a crisis management firm; some correspondence from former pupils, parents or other interested parties has been brushed off in a breezy manner. Furthermore, resistance to genuinely addressing the problem is growing as part of a wider backlash, as can be found in some comments posted under the regular updates on the subject on the blog of Norman Lebrecht (Slipped Disc), and also in recent debates conducted in the Times Educational Supplement (see my separate post here and also some comments on the ensuing debate here)
Only a full public inquiry into sexual and other abuse in musical education is likely to get to the bottom of this alleged widespread corrosive abuse and ensure both that those who have suffered are heard in safety, and proper recommendations are made to ensure this could never happen again. In February such a petition was set up and garnered over 1000 signatories over just a week, including a huge number of former students at UK specialist music schools and colleges. This was re-opened in May and further signatures added. It has been sent to head teachers, directors of music and college principals, and also to government ministers responsible for education and their shadow counterparts. Whilst to date no indication of an inquiry has yet been received, together with another person I have been having meetings at Parliament, and know that there is a planned meeting of sympathetic MPs from all parties in mid-December, with a view towards lobbying further. Various people have already written to their MPs urging them to support this, and a small caucus of such MPs is being formed. I would strongly urge all people sympathetic to this cause (whether or not they are musicians or have personal experiences) to write to their own MP as soon as possible. A copy of the petition as a PDF is given at the top of this message, and below I reproduce in edited form some text from an earlier blog post indicating how to set about this task. All support is needed now as soon as possible. Please do let others know about this as well.
If you receive a sympathetic reply from your MP, I would be most grateful if you could let me know, then I can forward their name to other interested MPs.
I would like to urge everyone who has signed the petition (and anyone else) to write to their local MP, and preferably as soon as possible. The more MPs are made aware of it by constituents, the stronger the political pressure for an inquiry will be in Parliament. If you are not aware of who is your local MP, go to http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ and enter your postcode – you should be provided with full contact details for him/her. A basic template for the type of letter you might use which is printed below – naturally feel free to modify it or replace it with something else of your own. I would recommend including a short bit about yourself, in particular stressing any connection you might have to Chetham’s or any other musical institution. I have included a clause for those who might be prepared to meet with their local MP – several people have already made appointments for this. If anyone plans to do this and wants some further briefing, please do contact me. It is also naturally paramount to attach a copy of the petition, which is attached at the top of this post.
Thank you to everyone who has supported this campaign, and above all to those victims who have been brave enough to come forward. The following links feature some important broadcast features from earlier in the year:
The following article from today, by the pioneering Guardian journalist Helen Pidd, is especially important – http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/mar/26/chethams-music-school-sexual-abuse-inquiry
The full remarks of the judge prior to sentencing can be found here – warning, these are extremely graphic and could act as a trigger to some – http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/r-brewer-sentencing-remarks.pdf
I am particularly relieved that he chose to draw attention to the ways in which so many prominent people were prepared to back Brewer, in full knowledge of his crimes, because of some misguided ideas that his artistry mitigated against this.
Dear (Member of Parliament),
I am writing as a concerned constituent to ask you to support a petition calling for an independent inquiry into sexual and other abuse in specialist music education.
This petition has been signed by over 1000 people, the majority of them musicians, and includes over 300 former pupils from Chetham’s School of Music, one of the country’s leading specialist music schools.
The petition is attached as a PDF, and it can also be viewed online, with signatories and comments, at https://ianpace.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/re-opened-until-may-31st-2013-petition-for-an-inquiry-into-sexual-and-other-abuse-at-specialist-music-schools/ .
The call for this petition has come in the wake of the recent conviction of Michael Brewer and his wife, Hilary Kay Brewer, on charges of sexual assault against Frances Andrade whilst she was a student at the school. Michael Brewer was Director of Music at Chetham’s when the offences took place. Frances tragically took her life during the course of the trial, and a wide range of further allegations have, as a result of the court case, surfaced since the verdict.
One of the initiators of the petition, Ian Pace (firstname.lastname@example.org ), who has hosted it on his blog, has been contacted by a great many people with many other allegations to suggest that abuse was a widespread phenomenon, at least in former times, and that such abuse spread well beyond Chetham’s to other specialist music institutions throughout the country – many former victims are now finally feeling empowered, sometimes decades after the events in question, to go forward to the police.
On this basis, the signatories are calling for an inquiry into the many aspects of musical education and the workings of these institutions. It is hoped that an inquiry would set out to comprehend why and how such abusive behaviour could apparently so easily occur, and would seek to make certain that current and future procedures are robust enough to ensure that this may be prevented in the future, whilst safeguarding the best aspects of such education and protecting teachers as well.
The safeguarding of all children in education must be a priority to all, but the specialist nature of music education demands a vigorous approach to their safeguarding. The bonds between a music student and their teacher are, by their very nature, intense; the level of study is demanding and the commitment to the subject by both parties means that the relationship between student and teacher is a unique one.
I very much hope that you will see fit to give your own support to such an inquiry, which would, I believe, serve to strengthen the musical education in our country, for both current and future generations.
If you would like further information, [I would be more than happy to meet with you, or] you can contact the petition organiser, Ian Pace, at email@example.com