Channel 4 news have broken the silence surrounding the scandal of sexual abuse at the UK's most prestigious music schools. One lady's words in this latest report are impossible to forget.
She taught at one of these colleges, where sexual contact with pupils was - allegedly - rife. She said it was not just tolerated, it was normal. She was asked by the journalist whether she had considered blowing the whistle on it all. She had thought about doing so, but she had counted the cost in the knowledge that they would close ranks. In other words, she would have lost her job.
We may be shocked, with hindsight, that she did not speak out. But would we really do any different?
The fornication and sexual abuse rampant in our culture is a result of spiritual licentiousness in the Church. The Apostle Paul says that when we change the truth of God into a lie and worship and serve the creature more than the Creator, these corruptions and degeneracies will follow (Romans 1. 24-27). When the Church worships idols, the world goes back to Sodom.
The Problem with Music Teaching
I was only 13 when my clarinet teacher was sent away. Two other girls had accused him of inappropriate contact. He was out of a job quicker than you can say "gross misconduct". I was mystified and upset. Performance teaching is hands on and I had not taken offence at the necessary physical contact, or judged it as remotely "inappropriate".
The teacher was employed by the high school. They had a policy to deal with such allegations as most schools do - guilty, by default. Schools don't take risks and teachers know that a false allegation can ruin a good career.
The news coming out of Chethams and the Royal Northern College of Music is getting worse by the day. These are not trivial allegations of sexual harrassment. These are appalling cases of sexual abuse, ending in the conviction of the Brewers this week.
What are we to think? How can it be that these bastions of musical education ignored their pupils' complaints? Why did they not function in the same manner as other schools? Why were the police not brought in? Why did nobody listen? Why did the pupils themselves not complain more loudly and work together to bring the perpetrators to justice?
Classical music is different. It is the humanist's religion and god. One listens to Classical music as a place of purity, unsullied by modern life, with all its marvellously liberal and enlightened doubts about life, the universe and everything. No one wants this paradise ruined by reality.
The revelations coming from places like Chethams have been - on a cultural level, rather than on a personal level - fostered by this idolisation of Classical music. If Classical music is transcendent and sublime, if listening to Classical music puts us in touch with the numinal sphere and allows us to be spiritual outside of Christianity, then those who produce the remarkable sounds of Classical music are priests. And those who lead Classical musicians are high priests. These high priests can make or break a young priest's career. These performers, who strive out of fear of failure and the whispered necessity to reach their full potential, are plagued by insecurity. A music teacher can tell them what they themselves do not know - that they are talented or that they are not. And the more time the pupil has already invested in learning music, the greater the need is to succeed and make good on so many hours of work.
The music teacher therefore has an unhealthy and unnecessarily strong power over a pupil - mentally and emotionally. The avenue for abuse is open on both fronts because one has mysterious control over the other. This does not happen in Maths teaching. The Maths teacher cannot tell a 10 year old pupil that they have incredible potential to grow up to integrate. But in music ... it becomes almost life and death. It should not be so. This is not normal. It is not a natural or essential aspect of music.
Destroying the young
The problem seems to be that no one cares. Of course the courts will run their course, when the police persuade possible victims to give evidence once more. And a few more musicians might get 6 years and be out in 4. The legal side will be maintained. But when it comes down to the moral sphere, no one will actually care. No one has cared. The Church will not insist on morality amongst musicians - that would be a break with tradition. And if the Church does not, why should anyone else? Some people will just wish it had stayed swept under the carpet, because - at the end of the day - Fred is an awfully nice chap and a jolly good musician. His talent is too big for him to be subjected to this humiliation. He's a musician. He can do what he wants. Can gods really be controlled? If they need a few young people to "help" them, is it the greater good that these kids are abused and we all get good music?
The cost is too high. We need a Christian understanding of music and a Christian teaching of music. Only then will we stop making our children prey - both physically (prey for the perverted music teacher) and mentally (as much older musicians exploit their authority to control the soul).
The truth of God is not something to be kept in a box, on a shelf, in a locked room - safe from harm. It is something we are called proclaim, defend and preserve. It doesn't need our "protection" but loyalty requires we should uphold it at all costs.
The Protestants of the Reformation gave their lives for the truth. Sometimes Christians can be very glib about this, as though they had nothing to lose anyway.
Most of us are not called to martyrdom, but we might be called to lose our jobs. We might be called to lose respect. The accolades of our career, which have propped up so many musical talents, might drift away.
Too many Christian musicians have made an idol of their respect, the praise of their talent, the fact that even non-Christians can adore and admire them. They say that this is witnessing, building bridges and sharing the Gospel. In fact it is keeping the head down and hoping to get away with it, salving their consciences by a little preaching on the side.
If we are truly disgusted by the revelations in our music schools, then we should repent of our own sins and pray the Lord has mercy on this nation.