Music school chief calls for immediate action on sexual abusemain
Peter Tregear, head of the School of Music at the Australian National University in Canberra, has called for collective action by music colleges to address past incidents of sexual abuse and prevent their recurrence. Read the full article here, on an academic chat-site.
Ultimately, root and branch cultural change is what is required, not just a new, and enforceable, “code of conduct”. This will require strong, principled, leadership, not just strong legislation. It will also need to recognise that abusive behaviours in music schools come in many forms; these can be pedagogical, financial, and psychological in nature, as well as sexual.
As I have argued elsewhere, one broad (but I think powerful) cultural change we could institute right now is to recalibrate what we mean by “musical excellence”, as both a pedagogical goal and a standard of behaviour. What’s the point of being a great musician if it comes at the cost of a life well lived, or supports a society not worth living in?
Peter is right. Sadly, it’s in England where the worst abuses continue to be exposed that heads are being dug deeper into the ground. Many of the music schools – including those like Chetham’s which have introduced commendable preventive measures – are in denial about the past, still protecting those who protected the abusers.