Abuse in UK music schools: More than 1,000 musicians call for inquiry

- 26 February 2013

A petition calling for an inquiry into the historic and current culture at UK music schools and conservatoires has closed with more than 1,000 signatories and will be sent to the secretaries of state at the departments of education, culture and the Home Office, their opposition shadows, and all heads of British specialist music schools and conservatoires.

Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester
Photo: David Dixon

The petition’s primary organiser, Ian Pace, has called for specialist music education institutions to support an independent inquiry ‘if only for the sake of taking some responsibility for so many ruined lives’.

Speaking to CM, he said that ‘if the schools are so confident that things are fine now, then I think they should want to cooperate fully with this sort of inquiry’.

Asked whether it was possible to be sure that a culture of abuse ‒ of the sort which saw Michael Brewer, former head of music at Chetham’s school of music, convicted earlier this month ‒ had been eradicated from today’s music schools, he said he was prepared to believe it had been.

However, he said: ‘They should not have anything to hide and so can be transparent about things now ‒ and it would strengthen all of them to address what went wrong in the past.

‘Any of these institutions will take credit for whoever has gone on to do great things. I think that if they do that, they also have some responsibility for other people whose lives have gone very badly wrong in ways that may be related to the school.’

Pace said that such an inquiry ‘should have the power to call senior and not-so senior staff’.

‘If so much was going on, in lots of schools ‒ and lots of the accounts at least allege that there were processes of cover-up and collusion at the schools ‒ then this needs to be addressed. This is important not least in order to be sure that this is not something endemic in the way that such institutions work.’

Few of the petition’s signatories, listed here, signal close ties to the senior management of UK music schools and none of the institutions has given its official support to calls for an inquiry.

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