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Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

RAM sacks lecturer over controversial student advice

12:51, 7th November 2017

The Royal Academy of Music (RAM) has dismissed Dr Francesca Carpos after students complained about her controversial advice on how to build a successful career as a professional musician.

The advice, which was sent to students last week, suggested that violinists are commonly known as ‘gypos’ (a derogatory term for gypsies) and advised players to choose someone ‘almost as good’ as their deputy ‘so you are considered better’.

It also warned players to ‘Be discreet: what’s on tour stays on tour’ and advised them to ‘Play your part, do your thing, head down, don’t complain and keep quiet’.

Responding to student complaints, Dr Carpos later sent a second email in which she suggested her remarks had been ‘taken out of context’ and were based on scientific research conducted by a PhD student.

However, RAM began disciplinary proceedings against Dr Carpos, who began working at the conservatoire in August, and dismissed her from her post.

A number of students expressed their outrage on social media, and one student listed their grievances in a letter to staff.

This stated that Dr Carpos’s ‘unacceptable’ advice encouraged the development of ‘a toxic educational and working environment in which musicians are complicit in the harassment of and discrimination against colleagues’, and noted that it could ‘actively discourage musicians from speaking up about injustices by creating a climate of fear around reporting’.

RAM later issued a statement in which it stressed that the advice was ‘unauthorised’ and did not represent the views of the institution.

Describing the contents of Dr Carpos’s communications as ‘unacceptable’, the statement continued: ‘The Academy has a progressive professional development environment, but acknowledges that there is still much work to be done across the sector. While students and staff already collaborate within the existing Equality and Diversity Committee, suggestions from students in the wake of this incident have prompted us to set up two student-led groups to advise on equality and diversity, and professional development provision.

‘We anticipate that these steps will allow us to shape professional practice within our field rather than just respond to the outdated inequalities which we know still exist. The President of the Student Union and the Senior Management Team will be working, together, closely to monitor progress in this area in the coming weeks and months.’

According to the Telegraph, Carpos is considering suing the conservatoire.

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