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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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
 

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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).
 

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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.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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...

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.
 
G

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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

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).
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
Oh how I'd like to get there with composing.
 

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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.
 

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Uh, try to separate communism from the Soviet Union, please. Kind of a basic concept.
I don't like your tone, but what I was talking about is how it played out in practice, not about the theory. I have come across people, who are true believers, or apologists for the Soviet regime, or other regimes of the sort. But fact is that with the Russian invasion of Hungary in 1956, many people in Communist parties in the West tore up their membership cards. They became disgusted of the ideology as a whole. In the UK, I understand that the Communist party there basically folded due to 1956. It was the crushing of freedom, so too where other things like the putting down of the Prague Spring in 1968.

So that's what I'm saying. This student in that tutorial obviously did not know about these things, or maybe did not care. The lecturer taking the tutorial did not correct him, if my memory is correct. In fact, I think he kind of legitimised the view that exteme leftist ideology is somehow better than extreme right ideology. But of course, I shut up, I was only a first year student. Later I got more vocal, but as I said, other students where too intimidated to back me up, even though in private they supported me. But that's worth nothing, isn't it, if people are off record? & that's how bullies operate. They get support from 'the silent majority.'

Don't worry, I've learnt my lessons. Still am, from both extremes of ideology, both online and in real life. 'Put up or shut up' is what they're saying. So basically, say anything, as long as you agree with 'us.' That's an Orwellian definition of freedom if there ever was one (hint: its not real freedom, its phony).
 

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How what played out in practice? It isn't like the Soviets actually implemented anything close to communism, as defined by Marx at least. Nobody has bothered, actually, yet he and his theory are constantly lampooned as somehow inherently evil. I'd argue myself that what communism is predicated on is far more friendly than what fascism is. I wouldn't exactly call it extreme leftist ideology in all cases, either. Also, I think you're a tad paranoid and perhaps have a minor persecution complex. I realise there ARE issues concerning personal ideology and interpretation within universities. For example, my fiancee's philosophy tutor told a student in her class that he would fail them if they ever tried to argue against absolute morality in one of their papers. However, I do think you're making a bit much of it, Sid. Your posts often have a flair for drama.
 

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To go back to original topic...

There is an interesting phenomenon that has gone on in music schools for decades, and it's the phenomenon of "I'm always right." That is, the teachers become totalitarian and dogmatic in their views to the point that they won't let their students make any other musical decisions without them. If you don't do exactly what your professor says, you will be disapproved, arbitrarily judged, and possibly driven insane with frustration and despair that you'll never please them. I know I've had that situation. But the bright side is, I finally found a compromise in my current situation, with a professor who said I can start making my own decisions now as long as I take his ideas into account. For the longest time, it felt like bullying because it was meant to break me down rather than build me up, to impose certain ideas on me that I couldn't approve of, or wasn't satisfied with the reasoning for. But as I said, my situation has resolved well, which has made me happy. We are on excellent terms, me and my professor, as of now.
 

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To go back to original topic...

There is an interesting phenomenon that has gone on in music schools for decades, and it's the phenomenon of "I'm always right." That is, the teachers become totalitarian and dogmatic in their views to the point that they won't let their students make any other musical decisions without them. If you don't do exactly what your professor says, you will be disapproved, arbitrarily judged, amd possibly driven insane with frustration and despair that you'll never please them. I know I've had that situation. But the bright side is, I finally found a compromise in my current situation, with a professor who said I can start making my own decisions now as long as I take his ideas into account. For the longest time, it felt like bullying because it was meant to break me down rather than build me up, to impose certain ideas on me that I couldn't approve of, or wasn't satisfied with the reasoning for. But as I said, my situation has resolved well, which has made me happy. We are on excellent terms, me and my professor, as of now.
It's just the same everywhere else in higher education. I find it funny to note that the organizations that are typically made up of smarter people, tend to be full of douches.
 

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How what played out in practice? It isn't like the Soviets actually implemented anything close to communism, as defined by Marx at least...
Well they did not try to implement Marx directly, it was more Lenin's reformulations of Marxism for the Russian context that was applied in the USSR. It had to be adapted to Russian conditions. Marx was thinking of WEstern Europe, which was different from Russia in mid 19th century (eg. much more industrialised). Same with China, Mao rejigged Marxist theory to apply it there.

But this shows there are many versions of Communism, sometimes at odds with eachother. The Spanish Civil War was basically lost because the forces of the left where too divided amongst themselves (conflict between more democratic leaning leftists and more authoritarian leaning/Stalinist leftists). So they lost their battle against Franco's more united rightist forces.

...
Nobody has bothered, actually, yet he and his theory are constantly lampooned as somehow inherently evil...
There was positive and negative to come out of Marxism. I mean workers united, formed trade unions in the late 19th century (incl. here in Australia, and we where never 'Communist'). So that led to the Labor movement, and so on. It lead to rights for workers, pensions, better working conditions, and so on. So I don't paint it all as bad. But I basically believe what Ghandi said. Any ideology can be twisted for bad ends. & yet people like him showed the common human things, not the divisive things. & that's the way to go, away from extremism of any sort.
 
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