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Thread: Bullying and Victimisation in Classical Music Institutions...

  1. #1
    Clarissa
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    Default Bullying and Victimisation in Classical Music Institutions...

    Hi,

    I'm new here, and although I will be posting about other topics of interest, as a professional musician, I am particularly interested in the issue of bullying and victimisation of students by staff that goes on in music schools and colleges in the UK (and elsewhere).

    The problem is that it is very hard to get anyone to talk about these problems; victims are often fully aware that their careers can be compromised by scandal, and some are even threatened to keep quiet on that basis!

    If you know about these issues - I'd be very interested to get the ball rolling with a discussion.

    You can also read my blog, where I am finally writing about what happened to me.

    Thanks for reading - will be interesting to see what others think...

    Clarissa
    http://musiccollegesurvivor.wordpress.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    It does go on, I have not experienced it in relation to music (which I have not studied at uni) but with other things. I mean there have been scandals here of lecturers at uni taking advantage of their position which leads to sexual harrassment and other things.

    Also, when at uni, if you didn't tow the ideological line of your lecturer, you could basically expect ******* marks. If you spoke out, ditto. I talk from experience, and its bitter experience. Problem is, other students are ***** scared and when I spoke up, they would not publicly back me up. Similar to this forum in some ways, but I don't want to go on about that.

    I've also read musicians memoirs, including reflections of their time in uni, and these things do come up. In terms of females, often males in power positions will use them for sex and that kind of thing.

    Classical music is not more 'sanctified' than other fields like rock, hip hop, techno or whatever. But as your opening post suggests, there are big taboos around classical music, a kind of aura of it almost being like a thing untouched by the worse aspects of human nature. But that's basically la-la land, if people believe that (or don't want to face the truth, or don't know it), well, I don't see that as realistic.

    Thanks for posting your blog which I will check out. I wanted to raise similar issues here in relation to books I've been reading, but with the current climate of the forum (a few bullies imposing their order on the rest of us) as in uni, I'm not willing to stick my neck out here when others will not back me up. Great democracy of ideas, ain't it? (not).
    Last edited by Sid James; Oct-15-2012 at 02:57.
    Contrasts and Connections in Music

    "There will be a moment or two of confusion, but if we all keep our heads, everything will be fine" - Cary Grant.

  3. #3
    Senior Member cwarchc's Avatar
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    Clarissa,
    I haven't experienced what you described.
    I have read your blog. Thanks for sharing that with us.
    You need to rise above it, I know it's easy to say - but more difficult to practice
    Good luck with your future, you appear to be a balanced person.

    Welcome to TC. On the whole, it's a great place.

    Sid has been here a lot longer than I have and is more qualified to comment.
    But here's a quote from Plato for you

    Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy.
    Lenfer and Clarissa like this.
    “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

  4. #4
    Clarissa
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    HI there,

    Thanks for replying to my post on the forum and for reading my blog.

    Unfortunately, as you will realise when you read more, this situation ruined a very crucial part of my professional start in the music industry, so as you say, it is VERY difficult to "rise above" it all. But I don't think it is actually a case of rising above it; it's a case of me needing to write about it in order to express what I've suppressed for many years. I'd also like to think that when it gets on a roll, it will encourage more people to speak out and join the dots between what goes on at drama schools, stage schools, music schools and arts colleges all over the place. Then it won't be so shocking that Jimmy Savile got away with abusing young men and women for many years - he is precisely the sort of person that wheedles their way into institutions like the BBC, schools, hospitals etc. This form of abuse, and any other abuse that involves victimisation and bullying is always perpetrated by people who need to feel in a position of power because inside they are usually totally fractured in some way...

    Quote Originally Posted by cwarchc View Post
    Clarissa,
    I haven't experienced what you described.
    I have read your blog. Thanks for sharing that with us.
    You need to rise above it, I know it's easy to say - but more difficult to practice
    Good luck with your future, you appear to be a balanced person.

    Welcome to TC. On the whole, it's a great place.

    Sid has been here a lot longer than I have and is more qualified to comment.
    But here's a quote from Plato for you

    Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy.

  5. #5
    Clarissa
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    Agreed with this - the sexual exploitation of students is an age old problem that is always a risk when you have young impressionable and (nowdays) quite worldly people mixing with figures of authority and professional panache...

    But it is part of a wider problem of the power games that go on in educational institutions which are totally and utterly inappropriate. I for one think that it should be in the contract of all teachers that they won't have relationships with students under any circumstances, and that if they do, it should be a case of resignation or the sack... Just too much margin for a conflict of interest...

    Clarissa

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    It does go on, I have not experienced it in relation to music (which I have not studied at uni) but with other things. I mean there have been scandals here of lecturers at uni taking advantage of their position which leads to sexual harrassment and other things.

    Also, when at uni, if you didn't tow the ideological line of your lecturer, you could basically expect ******* marks. If you spoke out, ditto. I talk from experience, and its bitter experience. Problem is, other students are ***** scared and when I spoke up, they would not publicly back me up. Similar to this forum in some ways, but I don't want to go on about that.

    I've also read musicians memoirs, including reflections of their time in uni, and these things do come up. In terms of females, often males in power positions will use them for sex and that kind of thing.

    Classical music is not more 'sanctified' than other fields like rock, hip hop, techno or whatever. But as your opening post suggests, there are big taboos around classical music, a kind of aura of it almost being like a thing untouched by the worse aspects of human nature. But that's basically la-la land, if people believe that (or don't want to face the truth, or don't know it), well, I don't see that as realistic.

    Thanks for posting your blog which I will check out. I wanted to raise similar issues here in relation to books I've been reading, but with the current climate of the forum (a few bullies imposing their order on the rest of us) as in uni, I'm not willing to stick my neck out here when others will not back me up. Great democracy of ideas, ain't it? (not).

  6. #6
    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
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    I can't really say that I've experienced any of this for myself but I know that the best way to not have to ever care about what any of these 'superiors' have to say is to play at a level so high and great that you don't need them nor care at all what they think or what they can do. (long run-on, I know) There is no greater feeling than to be so good at what you do that not even the mightiest person against you can bring a single bit of harm to you. To be truly free of any crap out there; sad to see there is so much of it in music, especially classical.
    clavichorder likes this.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for this blog.
    I'm studying in a conservatory - a regional conservatory, we're only a few dozens of serious students - and I have never had to deal with this kind of things. There are some little wars between teachers, but I haven't heard of student bullying.
    I hope that if I'm able to study with the teacher I want next year, I won't experience the kind of thing you describe in your blog...
    There are places I wouldn't want to study in (and wouldn't be accepted anyway), without even having been there. Competition alone can make some schools bad places to learn... If on the top of that you add bullying (couldn't be bullying a result of an overly competitive athmosphere ?), it must be unbearable.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    A Life Unexamined by my idol and mentor Richard Gill.
    Last edited by ComposerOfAvantGarde; Oct-16-2012 at 11:20.
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    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

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    I like Richard Gill. I played under his direction 20 years ago in a performance of Haydn's Creation and I can remember it to this day.
    GG

  10. #10
    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraemeG View Post
    I like Richard Gill. I played under his direction 20 years ago in a performance of Haydn's Creation and I can remember it to this day.
    GG
    I'm going to see him for a composition workshop with some other composers and a group of musicians in November. So excited!
    Cnote11 and Ramako like this.
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

  11. #11
    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    ^^CoAg, I loved Richard Gill's blog, and he said it so well, his last few sentences struck me as relevant to all aspects of life (and I'm a person who does NOT put up with bullies, online or in real life). They are not the norm, they are actually an aberration from the norm (apt how he mentions Hitler). The people in history who actually did good risked their lives for justice and peace. People like Mandela, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi and so on. That 's the flip side of what Gill is saying.

    Same in music, its the collaborative musicians who get people's respect. The reason is simple - they give respect so they get it back. People like Simon Rattle and Claudio Abbado have been doing this for ages. Others from the past who worked like this where Ernest Ansermet, and Australia's Charles Mackerras. The dictatorial ways of "that little Hungarian Nazi" as one London player kind of jokingly reminisced about Georg Solti are no longer acceptable. I think Charles Dutoit was actually sacked for bullying in recent years.

    This is widening the topic of this thread, but there's nowhere else I can put them. Again, the current climate of this forum is not conducive to making threads on this topic if a bunch of bullies come on it to intimidate.

    & notice how Gill does not use fancy weasel words to get his point across. This is the type of writing I like, direct and to the point.

    This quote by Mr. Gill says it all, and it does not just apply to music:

    Thus, dear friends in music, why do we need bullies in our lives?

    We don't. We need to stand up to them and tell them that their behaviour is
    completely unacceptable.

    We need to be united against the pretenders and the fakers who only care
    about themselves and not about music.
    Last edited by Sid James; Oct-17-2012 at 01:26.

  12. #12
    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kv466 View Post
    I can't really say that I've experienced any of this for myself but I know that the best way to not have to ever care about what any of these 'superiors' have to say is to play at a level so high and great that you don't need them nor care at all what they think or what they can do. (long run-on, I know) There is no greater feeling than to be so good at what you do that not even the mightiest person against you can bring a single bit of harm to you. To be truly free of any crap out there; sad to see there is so much of it in music, especially classical.
    Oh how I'd like to get there with composing.
    Last edited by clavichorder; Oct-17-2012 at 01:32.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    ^^Its the same in any field unfortunately, clavi. I mean I remember a history tutorial at uni, one of the students was saying that Communism was better than Fascism. I mean probably as the better evil of the two, not better in the normal sense of the word. But this did not match my experience, far from it. I was thinking 'what's this guy saying, its total b---s----.' But of course most uni lecturers and academic staff are left wing, so they would gloss over that. Well back then they would, but now with the opening up in recent years of Soviet archives we know more about what happened there. & it was, if anything, worse than we thought. So much was covered up. But even given these facts, some 'true believers' never admit the failings of their ideology.

    I mean online you have people that still actually believe in the ideology that Boulez was spinning back in the post war years. It was harmful for music as a whole, it put many people out in the cold. But since he's certain hard core modernists poster boy, he gets off the hook. Thats similar to the "passionately entrenched" views you speak of. & funny how some of these people preach to others about things like flexibility, but are they themselves 100 per cent flexible or fully without bias? I would think not. Nobody is.
    clavichorder likes this.

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    Senior Member Cnote11's Avatar
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    Uh, try to separate communism from the Soviet Union, please. Kind of a basic concept.

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    Senior Member Cnote11's Avatar
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    .................................................. .....
    Last edited by Cnote11; Oct-17-2012 at 02:22. Reason: nevermind

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