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Article on harassment in music conservatories


jbgilm
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Interesting article.

I hadn't really thought about it before,but music teaching would be a difficult area to police.The teaching rooms would be fine, just put up video cameras and advertise the fact that they are in constant operation.As to the more difficult themes of blocked opportunities etc, I don't know.I guess it's no different to what happens in the corporate world, though I don't know how you stop it.

xania

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Interesting article. Times sure have changed though. 20 years ago, during my conservatory days, nearly every male teacher could have been charged with sexual harassment by someone.

A couple of incidents:

I was on tour and a teacher was with us. He leered and flirted with me all day. When we got to the hotel he asked for my room number and if he could come up later. I said, sure and gave him a room-number on a non-existent floor. I told everyone and laughed about it the whole rest of the trip.

I played a piece for my teacher which was to be played on my upcoming jury. When I was done he came over and kissed my forehead and told me the piece was lovely and beautiful and all the notes were there, but "you played like a sweet little girl in Sunday School choir - it's just a little too virginal, if you know what I mean". He then told me details of the previous night he had spent with the woman he was dating (not a student) and the charged sexual/romantic atmosphere of their evening, "and I thought of you - I thought 'one day (fatcat) will be able to play like that'". I couldn't wait until the lesson was over - to go back and laugh with my friends about horny old Mr. XXX and how he advised me to get laid before my jury. This teacher was adored by me and all of his students. I guess I could have had him fired if that happened today.

I'm not saying that sexual harassment isn't real or serious, just that some incidents can be taken care of without resorting to lawsuits. But yes, other times a lawsuit is what it takes.

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It sounds as though you handled yourself brilliantly.

I, too have had similar experiences, but in the medical field. It does take maturity and a good sense of humour to extricate yourself from these situations at times!

It shouldn't happen, but it always has and sadly probably will.

I'd back a wiley female to to beat a mere male at his own game anytime. smile.gif

xania

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  • 1 month later...

The article seems a bit sensationalized... but I imagine there's more than a kernel of truth in it. Usually, the girls who can't handle the "weird" teachers avoid them at all costs. Everyone who bothers to do their research knows who touches and feels... which teachers are the "dirty old men"

Often times, the weird, horny, eccentric ones are the best. I'm not trying in minimize sexual harassment, but perhaps if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

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I'm sorry, but "if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen" is NOT AN ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE under any of the circumstances shared here. Sexual harrassment by a person in a position of power IS abusive and not everyone deals with it in a humorous or clever way. It can cause lasting, deep damage, emotional and physical. Flirtatious advances, asking for a student's room number, inappropriate touching, etc. etc., are NOT necessary for developing a student's talents. Everyone has the right to feel safe. I hope that you or someone you care about does not have to go through that kind of pressure. Please don't make it even harder for the victims by making them sound like the ones with the problem.

Here's another way to think about your comment, Lymond: Would you tell someone who has been abused by a priest that they should just leave that church if they can't "take the heat?"

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"Everyone has the right to feel safe."

A wonderful concept, but not true. Life is not safe.

I agree that sexual harrassment is abominable at worse, and annoying at best. But...it's probably going to be with us as long as there are humans. Young people should be educated as to how to deal with it, and overt perpetrators should lose their jobs. Somewhere in the middle is human nature. We should do everything we can to stop it (sexual harrassment), but we all have a right to happiness, good health, and good fortune, too - right ? Bzzzzt.

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I agree that there will always be people in positions of power who will try to harrass others. And I agree that "life is not safe", but I DO think that it is reasonable for a student to expect that her/his teacher will not make inappropriate advances that have to be fended off (and that is what I meant when I said that "everyone has the right to feel safe").

To say that "if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen" is to put the burden on the victim, not the perpetrator, and that is the statement that prompted me to reply. That's the kind of attitude that supports a culture of harrassment.

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I was worried about a response such as yours Samira, when I made the post. I agree for the most part with everything that you say.

Unfortunately, I think I came off wrong.

An important part of my post was that I think the story has been sensationalized. Here's an example of how I think the system should work.

Teacher A when explaining bowing, rubs your arms, and back with his hands. This makes some girls uncomfortable (and some guys)

Student A says to student B, "My friends have had lessons with Teacher A, and from what they say about him, I know that I'd feel really uncomfortable in his studio... I know he's a genius who has a great many successes, but from my research and talking to his students, I know that his studio isn't the environment that I need."

Student B says: "I took a private lesson with Teacher A, and I know what you mean, but I think that I can handle it. He is really touchy, and he does have the dirty glint in his eye, but it was such an amazing lesson."

I've seen this conversation take place. I'm not saying it's OK for a teacher to ask for a student's phone number and to punish her in jury if she doesn't give it up. That is wrong. I don't even think he should ask for the phone number. I just know that some very fine teachers have the reputations of being "dirty old men," and it would be a great loss to the music world if they were all fired and sued. It's not too hard to find out a teacher's reputation... if you know you'll hate it there, DON'T GO.

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