Read this: A victim of abuse at UK music school appeals for others to come forward

Read this: A victim of abuse at UK music school appeals for others to come forward


norman lebrecht

November 24, 2013

A reader has asked us to post the following appeal:


The tragic story of Frances Andrade and the revelations over the past year of sexual abuse at some of our most prestigious schools of music have stirred up painful memories for me dating from forty years ago.


frances andrade



In the 1970s, I studied piano at the Watford School of Music  and was sexually abused over a four-year period by one of the teachers there. The abuse ended when my parents received a letter in the middle of term, stating that the man was no longer able to teach at Watford School of Music and I was then taught by someone else.

However, my abuser continued to teach at the Royal College of Music until 1995 when, I have since learned, he was convicted of a sexual offence. He died in 2004 and his obituary appeared in several daily newspapers.

The experience affected me deeply and stunted my emotional and sexual development. I became withdrawn, anxious and angry. For many years I was unable to form healthy, intimate relationships and bouts of deep depression have been a regular feature of my life.

As a result of intensive psychotherapy, I have been able to appreciate for the first time the seriousness of the damage I suffered but also to realise that I was not, as I used to think, to blame for what happened to me all those years ago. I know I am not my abuser’s only victim and if one of you is reading this, or if any of what I have written resonates with your own experience or knowledge of sexual abuse at either the Watford School of Music or the Royal College of Music in the period before 1995 it would be good to hear from you.

I thank Norman Lebrecht for allowing me to tell my story on his blog. I do so not merely as an attempt to reach some closure on this painful episode, but hopefully to encourage other victims to tell their stories too.






  • John Millner says:

    This person is very brave.

    I do hope that all of the victims of sexual abuse and rape at music institutions, whether the abuse occurred in specialist music schools, county music services, private lessons, colleges, orchestras or regional music centres, will come forward to tell their stories and seek justice. Michael Brewer and the very many other abusers in these places were able to continue for so long because their victims believed that they were somehow responsible for their own abuse.

    Frances Andrade showed extraordinary courage in returning to these issues again and again, for example, by campaigning against the disgraceful appointment of Malcolm Layfield to the post of Head of Strings at RNCM in 2002. What would be a more fitting memorial for her than to see these people finally brought to account for their appalling behaviour?

  • Mary says:

    Thank you for sharing your story here. Much of it is very similar to my own experience (but at different Music Schools). It has taken me so long to realise that I was not to blame for what happened, and I still struggle with horrible memories and images which leak into my life, even though it is more than 20 years ago.

    I think it helps other victims to know that they are not alone, so I really appreciate what you have written.

    Sending you many good wishes xxx

  • Frank Chalmers says:

    Norman may I reproduce this on my FB site.? It is a very important statement, and may give strength to others……who read my Chethams FB site.

  • Frank Chalmers says:

    I commend the bravery of this person to let others know about a deeply personal and hurtful experience ….for her this is the stage she is at…..but if reader are not yet at this brave stage, do not venture until you are ready and have sufficient support …..remember in court, all it takes is enough offences to be proved to convict, it does not need a landslide….too much pressure has already claimed a life…..let us have no more fatalities, please.

  • Janey says:

    What wonderful bravery and strength. I thank this individual for coming forward.

  • Alexander says:

    Further to Frank Chalmers’s comment, I think it worth mentioning that as far as I can tell we do not know whether Al is male (e.g. Alan) or female (e.g. Alison). While the majority cases that have so far come to light do involve female victims, we should not overlook the fact that there will also have been boys who have been abused in this way in these institutions, and they are more likely to come forward with this information if we make it plain to them that we know that they are out there.

    As for the original posting, I have no personal involvement in the case, and never attended either of the institutions mentioned, but I do know about whom Al is writing. Speaking from a certain amount of personal experience, I imagine that victims of these sorts of offences very probably feel a certain amount of regret should a perpetrator die before he has been brought to justice. In this case he was at least brought to justice for one of his crimes, but Al may or may not regret that he or she was unable to add his or her voice to the evidence against him. Perhaps this consideration will offer particular encouragement to victims where the perpetrator is still alive and can still be brought to justice.

    All that I am able to say to Al is that you have my deepest sympathy for this. I know only too well the emotional consequences of suffering long-term sexual abuse. I am pleased that psychotherapy seems to have helped you, and I hope that this campaign for further information about this particular abuser will prove fruitful, and will help you and other victims.

    I have myself provided the police with information which I very much hope will in due course lead to yet another perpetrator of these kinds of offences (committed in a not wholly dissimilar setting) being convicted and punished. I would just like to reassure anyone who is thinking about doing this that it really does help, and that all of the officers and civilian staff with whom I have had to deal in the course of this process, from Station Reception Officer through to Detective Inspector, have been outstanding.

  • Martin Roscoe says:

    I applaud and and concur with all those who have posted here. Let us hope that many more will find the courage to come forward (anonymously if they wish) . This behaviour has ruined the lives of so many young people for decades …and been covered up and condoned by the very people who should have condemned it and rooted it out. Shame on them all…many are still in post…astonishing as it may appear.

  • annie says:

    There are more and more of these stories coming out many years after the ‘ awful’ events. So know that you are not alone and that unfortunately this sort of thing happened a lot more than was talked about, and I suspect still goes on everywhere and not only in music colleges. People must be brave enough to speak out and not stay in the wings often with feelings of shame. Courage to all.

  • Julie says:

    Well done Al. You definitely aren’t on your own. There are many others who will not be able to hold their abuser accountable for one reason or another. I think your action is a very positive one considering limited options and hopefully you will spur others to find ways of healing, prevailing and moving forwards. Abuse can still be challenged head on even when the abuser is long gone or too elusive to call to account.