Proposed Guidelines to protect both Music Teachers and Students – a starting point for discussionPosted: February 21, 2015 Filed under: Abuse, Academia, Music - General, Musical Education, Specialist Music Schools | Tags: damian thompson, Guildhall School, music education, Philip Pickett, telegraph, the conversation 16 Comments
Yesterday saw the horrendous news of the conviction of and 11-year jail sentence for Philip Pickett on charges of rape and sexual assault of students while he was teaching at the Guildhall School. Here is the original list of charges against Pickett from last year; I do not wish to say much more specific to this case, not least because of the possibility of further trials; suffice to say that I believe a good deal more will be made public about both actions and the complicity of others.
If anything good is to come from this case, I hope it may help to put pressure for a proper international debate about the nature of music education and the possibilities for abuse and exploitation therein. I blogged in some detail about this last December, in response to an excellent article by Damian Thompson in the Spectator. Yesterday I published an article on the film Whiplash in terms of its representation of bullying and abuse in teaching, on The Conversation , and a wider article in The Telegraph about abuse and elite music teaching, in particular raising the controversial question of whether self-regulation is ever likely, and whether that a system which places enormous powers of patronage in a few people’s hands needs a greater degree of external accountability (which would mean political/governmental intervention). Naturally, I would expect there to be and would welcome a range of different opinions on these subjects, but feel strongly that the debate needs to be had amongst music educators worldwide, and more widely in the profession.
With this in mind, I wanted to post here a set of draft guidelines for instrumental and vocal teachers and students at a tertiary level (generally 18 or over) in terms of their dealings with one another, as a starting point for discussion. I drafted these around 18 months ago (which included other guidelines on such things as when it is/is not appropriate to cancel a lesson, not so relevant here), and whilst they have not yet been taken up, I hope very much at some point they or something like them will be.
I would welcome all thoughts on the below, including new suggestions, disagreements, and so on. I accept some will disagree with my views on physical touching (I suggest this is OK so long as one asks permission) and whether student-teacher relationships or sexual encounters are ever permissible (I argue that where they happen, or one or other party demonstrates agency with the intention of inducing such a thing, then both parties should act like adults and report things, their formal teacher-student relationship brought to an end without other negative consequences, then they are free to continue like any other two adults). But I think we should be talking about these things, in order to arrive at a humane system which protects both students and teachers.
Guidelines for Teachers
• In general, treat your student with respect as a human being, independently of your reflections on the quality and extent of their achievements as a performer. This should be borne in mind at all times.
• Remember that you are there to help the student, rather than their being there in order to enhance your own reputation.
• It is your choice how you wish your student to address you, whether by first name or title and surname. It is advised to clarify this to the student at the beginning of a lesson.
• Where there are serious problems concerning a student and their progress, you should try and discuss these with the relevant member of staff as soon as possible.
• It is accepted that teachers will naturally need to voice criticisms of a student’s playing or singing, sometimes severe criticisms. This should always be framed in such a way as to make clear that the criticisms relate solely to the student’s achievements (or lack of) specifically in terms of their work as a performer, not to their wider qualities as a person. Criticisms should be balanced with encouragement in the form of positive steps forward in order to improve.
• Use language which makes the above clear: for example, instead of saying ‘You are a very poor player’, say ‘You really do need to do considerable work in order to improve’, followed by suggestions of what form that work might take, or (if necessary) ‘It will be very difficult in the time available to you here to attain the level necessary in order to gain a high mark in your recital’. Similarly, avoid other generalities such as ‘You have no technique’ or ‘You are profoundly unmusical’, in favour of the likes of ‘I have to tell you that a good deal of work is necessary if you wish to achieve a higher technical level’, or in the second case, focusing on specific things the student needs to consider in order to be able to produce a more musically satisfying performance.
• You should always avoid any type of deliberately demeaning or belittling language of a personal nature towards a student, especially that designed to undermine their confidence. This can include undue and harsh sarcasm, deliberate aloofness and coldness, ignoring a student, negative comparisons with others, insensitive jokes, setting unrealistic demands, malicious rumour-mongering, threats, sexual or racial harassment, or anything which might be construed as ‘bitchy’. It is no justification for this to argue that such talk and attitudes are commonplace in the professional musical world.
• A student’s personal life is their own business, and discussions of this should generally only be undertaken when personal issues have a direct impact upon their performing. If a singer or other musician’s lifestyle – in terms of problems to do with sleep, maintaining good health, and so on – is impinging upon their singing, then it is legitimate to raise this issue. If a student raises the issue of difficulties arising from family, health or relationship issues, and wishes to talk about it, this is fine, but you should not feel under any obligation in this respect. In general, such matters are better discussed with the appropriate member of staff, who has pastoral responsibility, and who can communicate directly with you about them.
• When teaching a student, avoid befriending them on social media. [Personally I believe this is a principle worth observing for undergraduates, but which can be more flexible with postgraduates.]
• If you wish to make physical contact with a student in order to demonstrate some matter relating to performing, you must first ask their permission to do so. This can be done at the beginning of a series of lessons in order to facilitate so doing in general (but this must then be made clear to the student), or separately on individual occasion. If the student is unhappy with such physical contact and declines, this must be respected, and physical contact must then be avoided.
• Under absolutely no circumstances should there be any touching which can be construed as being of a sexual or unduly intimate nature.
• However, it is accepted that much music – especially for singers – relates to matters of an intimate and sometimes sexual nature, and it is legitimate to discuss this in lessons. But please always respect boundaries here, and be clear that you are talking about the music or the role, not directly about the student.
• Whilst in general conservatoire students are aged 18 or over and are technically adults, remember that they are still in a very early stage of adulthood, likely to be dealing with many pressures due to being away from home for the first time, having to negotiate possible loneliness, homesickness, coping with a degree of independence likely to be unprecedented for them, and of course a demanding course. It is best to work with the assumption that they are thus likely to be at a vulnerable stage in life, and should be treated with corresponding sensitivity.
Guidelines for Students
• You should always treat your teacher with respect and courtesy, be punctual for lessons, and acknowledge the help they are able to give you.
• Your teacher can choose how they wish you to address them, whether by first name, title and surname, or otherwise, and you should respect this. It is advised that this is clarified in the first lesson.
• Whilst you are certainly encouraged to solicit your teacher’s advice concerning the extent of your progress, or on future study, avoid asking such questions as ‘Do you think I can make it as a performer?’ or other such things which might put your teacher in a difficult position.
• If asking your teacher what they imagine would be your likely mark for a recital, on the basis of how you are performing at the time of asking the question, bear in mind that their answer will be an approximation, and is in no sense binding.
• Avoid flirtatious or overly ‘forward’ behaviour towards your teacher such as might place him or her in an awkward situation.
• Teachers may wish to make physical contact in order to demonstrate some matters relating to performance. They are required to ask your permission before so doing, either at the beginning of a series of lessons in order to establish that this is generally acceptable, or on individual occasions. If you do not wish this, you are entirely within your rights to refuse. Such physical contact should never be of a sexual or unduly intimate nature, nor should you respond to it in such a fashion.
• Never use any abusive or offensive language towards your teacher.
• When there are personal matters – for example relating to family, health or relationships – which might affect your performing, you are advised first to speak to your personal tutor, who can discuss these sensitively with your teacher.
• Your teacher often has a life and career outside of their work at your institution. Avoid gossiping about them, even amongst other students, including with respect to the nature of their other activities, as this can have the potential to be hurtful and demeaning. Any form of rumour-mongering, sexual or racial harassment, aggressive behaviour or threats towards your teacher will be treated with the utmost seriousness.
• Your teacher is not your friend on social media, and you should not request that they befriend you on there. [Personally I believe this is a principle worth observing for undergraduates, but which can be more flexible with postgraduates.]
• If you wish to record lessons for other reasons (so as to have a more permanent record for your own study purposes), you must ask your teacher first, and must also respect their wishes if they decline this request. (But see also Guidelines for both Teachers and Students below)
Guidelines for both Teachers and Students
• In the event of any serious worries about the nature of the relationship between teacher and student as made manifest verbally in lessons, either the teacher or student can request that the lessons be recorded. In this situation, the appropriate individual should be informed of this.
• In the event of any type of romantic or sexual liaison between a tutor and student – which can include any form of agency on either part with the intention of inducing such a thing, whether or not this is fulfilled – it is an essential requirement that both teacher and student report this to an appropriate individual. As a general rule it will be considered that in such a situation the relationship has assumed a degree of intimacy which is no longer compatible with a normal teaching relationship, and the student will be assigned to a different teacher, but without further consequences for either party.
Philip Pickett arrested on 15 charges, and interview with Clare Moreland in The TimesPosted: February 14, 2014 Filed under: Abuse, Chetham's, Higher Education, Music - General, Musical Education, Public Schools, Specialist Music Schools | Tags: chetham's, clare moreland, Guildhall School, music school abuse, Philip Pickett 8 Comments
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Filed under: Abuse, Chetham's, Higher Education, Music - General, Musical Education, Specialist Music Schools | Tags: ABRSM, chris ling, Clare Fox, Duncan McTier, Frank Furedi, Guildhall School, Heather Piper, Hervey Alan, ian lake, Institute of Ideas, Janet Rittermann, King Edward's School, lucy powell, Malcolm Layfield, Michael Crombie, music school abuse, Nichoals Smith, Operation Yewtree, paul gallagher, Philip Evans, Philip Pickett, Robin Zebaida, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Susan Hallam, tim loughton, Wen Zhou Li 9 Comments
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.