Piano teacher, 63, sues Juilliard for age discrimination

Piano teacher, 63, sues Juilliard for age discrimination


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2017

Julie A. Jordan, who has taught piano in the evening division at Juilliard for 30 years, has been dumped in what is said to be a ‘restructuring’.

She claims that only the older teachers were fired.

Julie, 63, wants her job back plus compensation.

Read a bit more here.


  • Alexander says:

    as far as I can guess teacher is almost the only occupation where age is a benefit … of course if we speak about professionals …. that lady had been teaching at Juilliard for 30 years … looks strange

  • Dennis says:

    Pretty fit for 63!

  • Michael Brown says:

    Juilliard has a history of firing without following legal due process. I have no doubt that her allegations are true.

    • Ross says:

      Are professors tenured or just given 1 year contracts each year?

    • Dan P. says:

      In my experience – Juilliard has never felt the need to answer to anyone – although this particular case of age discrimination is in contrast to the school in the 70s, when FEW private teachers – and I don’t exaggerate – were UNDER the age of 60 and many were much older (Lhevinne, Anya Dorfman, Sacha Gorodnitzky, Ivan Galamian, Roger Sessions, Joseph and Lillian Fuchs, to name just a few). While it was a great place back then for the simple reason of being able to work and play with so many great musicians, it WAS a cold place. The trick was not taking the official nonsense seriously and standing apart from it as much as you could. But at times you just couldn’t.

      Once in line to change my academic schedule for the next year I stood behind one young Chinese student who had not passed her year-end juries (you have to audition to get back in each year). Crying, she appealed to him that if she didn’t get back in she’d have to return to China and that she and her family faced being sent to jail – this was during the Cultural Revolution. His reply was typically arrogant: “My dear, you should have thought about that while you were practicing.” My blood ran cold and she was dismissed. I have no idea what happened to her. I didn’t see her again.

      Around the same time, a state law had been passed making all academic records available for review by the student involved. This was a big deal at Juilliard because all jury comments were anonymous, and students could suffer due to faculty colleagues trying to get back at each other through their students.

      When asked to see my jury comments the dean of students claimed that I couldn’t because they had all been burned as a response to the law. However, when I made a big deal about them they later offered to read them to me if I didn’t insist on knowing who wrote them. Apparently they had a way of magically reconstituting the ashes.

      They were also high-handed in other ways as well. At graduation, the composition faculty gave me a monetary award. I decided not to participate in the ceremony (I don’t like ceremonies) and, I suppose, as retaliation, when I went to pick up the check I was told that it had been applied to a debt I had. This was extraordinary because I was a full scholarship student and owed the school no money because I wasn’t being charged anything.

      As for tenure – Juilliard to my knowledge – has never offered tenure. You teach there at THEIR pleasure until your services are no longer required. Back in the 70s at least, faculty salary was unbelievable low, the operating principal being that the association with the institution was part of one’s compensation. Many teachers in NYC teach at more than one of the city’s three major conservatories and many other colleges.

      Despite all of that, at least in the 70s, it was a great place to be a musician, actor, or dancer.

      • Steven Honigberg says:

        In 1983, Leonard Rose was incredulous when relating to students that the school’s pension was $2000 a year. I mean mad as Hell. He died a year later.

        • Nick says:

          @Steven Honigberg

          As far as I know the pension is not much better these days either. Besides, Juilliard has an “attitude”. They think that the affiliation with the “J” name brings lucrative private practice, which is simply UNTRUE! Lucrative private practice can be developed only by stringent and ruthless recruiting, and not every teacher wants or capable to do that.
          Decent people, as a rule, did not recruit (at least in the 70s and 80s) and they suffered financially.

  • Steinway Fanatic says:

    It should be mentioned that she was on the Juilliard Extension Division faculty, which provides lessons to amateurs and music lovers.

    • Nick says:

      It does not matter WHO she provided lessons for. She might be as good, or even better than some, who provide lessons at Juilliard for so called “professionals”. The issue is: a teacher, any teacher cannot and should not be fired/”let go” after 30 years of service at the age 63!! As someone mentioned here already, “teacher is almost the only occupation where age is a benefit” Juilliard is a disgrace! But Juilliard is known for having total disrespect for people and for the Music.

      • Alexander says:

        One of the features of new educational paradigm is a lifelong learning/education ( compared to the previous educational model which existed before 90th last century), so the issue of age is not on the agenda nowadays. Probably, Juilliard doesn’t know about it. So, we can speak that they are outdated establishment 😉 … and doesn’t correspond to a new educational standards 😉 … that’s all briefly , at least logical 😉
        P.S. You are right, Nick, there is another person nicknamed “Alexander” here and I read his posts on “Jeanne D’Arc”, he writes excellent, but we are ( I am here only 3 days) two different persons, so I can easily be “someone” 😉

        • Nick says:

          @ Alexander

          Sorry to quote you as “someone” – simply could not find the author, but remembered a very important and rightful thought. “For a teacher age is a benefit”. Very well put.

  • Dave says:

    She will probably win her lawsuit and get some compensation. I doubt she will get that teaching position back

    • Dan P. says:

      One should note that New York is a “right to work” state. That means that unless you belong to a union or work within a tenured system, you can easily be fired given under any pretense, no matter what the real reason might have been. Discrimination is always very hard to prove.

  • Nick says:

    I wonder, how many of Ms. Jordan’s colleagues will show up on her side!!! I can almost bet, not one!!

  • Aaron Schwartz says:

    Too many pitchforked commenters here are jumping to conclusions about the injustice of Jordan’s firing.

    We cannot assume that *just because* she was older, there were not other potential problems with her job performance. There is simply not enough information.