Music abuse noted by researchers
By Sabrina Carinci
Verbal, emotional and even physical abuse may be affecting how some students in university and at other levels of education are learning, a new study says.
The study, conducted by University of Toronto music professor Lee Bartel and assistant music professor Linda Cameron, suggests verbal, emotional and physical abuse can drive students of any age, from young learners to the university level, away from their love of music.
The study started about two years ago when Bartel and Cameron began compiling stories, both good and bad, of students' personal experiences with their music teachers, Cameron said. Some of the stories explained instances of name-calling, mocking, hitting and even sexual abuse. Over 60 stories were collected and put together in a small booklet called 'What Really Matters in Music.'
"The goal of the study is to stop the cycle of the negative conditions of learning music, which not only affects how you feel about music but also the way you understand its contents," Cameron said.
Gerald Neufeld, a music professor at Western, was quite surprised when he heard about the Toronto study. He said personality clashes are often cause for tension or negativity from students to teachers, not vice versa.
Aside from the positive reinforcement he stresses in his classes, Neufeld believes students in music education often become very close and connect on both emotional and spiritual levels. "The students are often very giving and supportive of each other," he said.
Neufeld said music is an emotional subject and many students can be ego-sensitive, which is why positive reinforcement is so important.
Scott Barons, a second-year music student and member of the Faculty of Music Students' Council, said although he does not know of any verbal or emotional abuse taking place in classrooms at Western, the possibility of it happening seems possible. "It takes a lot of patience to be a conductor. He hears something in his head and it's hard if it isn't what's being played [by the students]."
Cameron believes there is a general model for discipline which all educators should abide by. A teacher should never hit or put a student down. "I just want students to love music," she said.