Dean of the Oberlin Conservatory on Improving Music School Culture in the #MeToo Era | Arts & Culture

Following recent allegations of sexual misconduct in classical music contexts near and far, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music is taking specific action to change the culture.

The conservatory’s actions are part of Oberlin College’s focus on the issue.

Last summer, two professors at the Oberlin Conservatory resigned following accusations of inappropriate behavior with students. Shortly after the resignations, Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar said in a statement to staff and students that institutions must be “prepared to respond to reports of sexual misconduct and to prevent such misconduct.” as far as possible”.

In addition to mandatory training for staff, the school held conversations around the issues.

“Having small groups of teachers able to have these conversations within the conservatory in particular has been very helpful,” said Andrea Kalyn, Dean of the Oberlin Conservatory. “The rule is very simple, isn’t it, do not have relations with the students. But the nuance is how you make sure that the culture is very clear and that there is security in this professional separation.

These conversations included discussions of the teacher-student relationship in music education, office spaces, traveling teachers, and nightly rehearsals.

Conservatory faculty also voted in September to remove obstructions from studio windows. While some music schools have solid doors to contain sound in rooms, Oberlin added windows during a renovation. However, these windows were often covered to eliminate distractions, conceal instruments or establish privacy, Kayln said.

“We’re in a climate where … privacy can be abused,” Kalyn said.

The change is intended to keep students and faculty safe as well as make a statement of awareness and transparency, she said.

Additionally, “making sure we don’t excuse bad behavior for the sake of the art” and being “hyper aware of how we send subtle messages” are important to improving the world of classical music. as a whole, Kayln said.

Martha K. Merrill