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It's all kicking off at Chethams

(19 Posts)
FastLoris Sun 10-Feb-13 23:23:02

Can't say I'm surprised. I went to a music college in the 1980s and all the same stuff was rife. While I wasn't there as a teenager, I had friends who were and everyone knew all about the widespread abuse (though for some reason, we never called it that).

Unconventional artistic types and over the hill middle aged musicians as teachers. Hormone-filled teenagers subjected to insane amounts of stress and competition. Intense 1:1 mentoring relationships. Private lessons with closed doors . . .

Go figure.

LouWolf Thu 14-Feb-13 13:53:36

It's tragic what happened in the 1980s and absolutely right that those who did wrong are brought to justice. But the school is such a different place today. It's an open, happy, nurturing school. Yes, there's pressure - but there's dialogue and openness between students, staff and parents. My teenage daughter is in her fourth year at the school and like most of her year group, is thriving - musically, academically and emotionally.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 15-Feb-13 12:01:03


I have sent you a pm, you must be so proud of your dd. grin

Emandlu Fri 15-Feb-13 12:04:20

Is there any current parent who would be willing to chat to me about this? My dd is currently going through the audition process and I am obviously having huge doubts right now.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 15-Feb-13 17:30:22


I believe that every one of the cases dates back to the 80s/90's but obviously only know what is reported.
We too are hoping to go through audition process with dd, but a couple of years off yet.
All I can say is that things have changed as Fastloris says they were all aware of what was going on and now we know its abuse, they didn't know back then.
I do hope those that are responsible pay the price, it is just so dreadful to think that a victim took their own life. Poor love may she RIP.

It doesn't seem as though the abuse accusations stop at Chets, I have just read a report suggesting the rncm have staff that will be questioned as well.

lastSplash Fri 15-Feb-13 18:34:26

I think it is too easy to think this is all from the dim distant past, and such abuse would be effectively prevented these days.

I posted this on the other thread about Frances Andrade, but the Guardian have published a string of correspondence dating up until late 2002 showing what I believe is a criminal disregard for student safety and an unwillingness to deal with credible evidence of sexual abuse at the RNCM.

Malcolm Layfield, who stopped teaching at Chetham's in 1997 only resigned within the last couple of days from his even more senior position as head of strings at the RNCM.

The Head of RNCM at the relevant time (Edward Gregson 1996–2008) who was ultimately responsible for safeguarding students, did not to me show lack of knowledge of abuse - just a sheer indifference to it and cared only about maintaining RNCM's reputation and his chosen head of strings, at any cost.

To give me confidence that music schools have moved on from the days when people like Brewer and Layfield could abuse with impunity, a complete overhaul of the child protection policies and procedures by music schools would be a start.

lastSplash Fri 15-Feb-13 18:35:16

Apologies for the long rant previous post.

My DS goes to a completely unconnected saturday music school in another part of the country and I was really troubled at the tone of their letter re revisiting their CP policy a couple of weeks ago (presumably triggered by Frances Andrade's death although they don't mention this). It equates protecting staff with child protection, references "malicious and erroneous allegations" and generally does not acknowledge the particular vulnerability to child abuse in music educational establishments.

consordino Fri 15-Feb-13 18:46:12

Just to add a little reassurance to people, I went through music college (in London) during the late 80's - early 90's, and saw no evidence of abuse or mis conduct. It can be a great experience. I v nearly went to Chets to board in the 80's and have been cross all these years with my parents because they said I couldn't go. Now I'm wondering if they knew / suspected what was going on. hmm

SingSongMummy Fri 15-Feb-13 18:53:52

LastSplash - I was at RNCM under Gregson and when a head of department was investigated for, and found guilty by tribunal of sexual harassment of many pupils, he was removed from his post but allowed to continue to teach at the college. I and many others were horrified, so I've not been at all surprised by his lack of action as regards Layfield!

morethanpotatoprints Fri 15-Feb-13 19:08:54


I too have read the same report(s).

I think the rncm stance that they knew that one of them I think Layfield had relationships with some over the age of consent.

This is disgusting, even if over the age. Teacher and student relationship should never go there. Hell I was taught this as a PC tutor/lecturer. You don't do it even if legal it is still unacceptable. So maybe a few were over 16 or 18, its bloody disgusting.

OMG I was looking at both of these schools for my dd. The rncm was her favourite but to put her in the trust of an organisation that makes a statement like that.

lastSplash Fri 15-Feb-13 19:09:25

I don't know how that is even legal SingSongMummy.

I really hope the recent scandal brings about some change.

circular Tue 19-Feb-13 21:09:05

Lastsplash - Also received similar letter around 2 weeks ago from Saturday music school that DD1 attends. Again, mentions CP policy changes, inviting parents to read but document not attached.
Found tone quite disturbing too - almost more protective of teachers being accused than of the students.

lastSplash Tue 19-Feb-13 21:19:11

I bet its the same one - I had to email them to say the CP policy was not attached, thinking that would prompt them to send it round to all the parents, but nope they didn't.

circular Tue 19-Feb-13 21:43:57

Could be, but there was some indication that policy changes were for quite a few music schools in the area. so maybe several sent out similar.
I never replied, so have not seen the policy.

tern Wed 20-Feb-13 10:30:49

If you want to see the current scandal produce real positive change at Chethams, and other music schools in the uK, please sign Ian Pace's petition. The fact so many ex-students of Chets and other schools and conservatoires - as well as some very famous names in classical music - have been happy to put their names to it suggests there is a serious problem with the culture of these places which needs looking at.

tern Wed 20-Feb-13 10:44:00

The other place to look at for some frankly scary discussion of the issues is Norman Lebrecht's blog - there are multiple blog entries, all with comments about Chets, Menuhin School, Purcell and St Mary's Music School. Eg:

ChetsMum Tue 05-Mar-13 08:14:31

yes - I would be willing to to tell you about chets... my dd is in her 4th year there and loving it.

partita Tue 16-Apr-13 21:31:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 13-May-13 14:03:02

I've been shocked by the number of stories growing out of this along the lines of "oh, isn't it terrible, now we can't touch pupils at all, how will we teach them?"

Perhaps not having sex with them would be a good start.

This extraordinary capacity for self-pity reminds me a lot of the Catholic Church's reaction to similar scandals.

As circular says, whilst the head of a music school is more protective of teachers than pupils, things are still badly wrong.

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