It amazes and puzzles me how freelance musicianship is talked down in two articles from this month’s neue musikzeitung. In his title page column, editor Theo Geißler reports from the recent conference of Verband deutscher Musikschulen in Berlin, denigrating a group of protesters from DTKV Saxonia who had complained about their working conditions. Geißler basically blames them to suffer from self-chosen misery—an unworldly and rather impudent claim. In another article, the VdM administration issues a statement in objection to an initiative of TKV Baden-Württemberg which had denounced competitive distortion and unequal treatment of employees and freelance music educators. It is hard to understand how one can disagree with the legitimate demand for a balanced rate of public funding for both groups.
These positions construe an artificial antagonism between music education taking place in public responsibility and in private institutions, disregarding the fact that the two parties for the most part operate with near-to-identical teaching staff, offering the same services with the same qualifications. We need to think these two sectors as one functional unit and not as competitors. In Berlin’s municipal music schools, still more than 80% of instrumental and vocal teachers are unwillingly working as entrepreneurs. It is just insane to bash this considerably large group of colleagues as »mercantilists« striving for profit—an offensive and entirely inappropriate description of people working hardly above the subsistence level. I feel ashamed that courageous initatives, carried out in favour of the majority of musicians and music educators, are denied any support by those who are supposed to be their allies. Once more, VdM and the federal parent organisation of Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband form an unproductive opposition against their freelance colleagues, and it is hard to imagine how professional lobby work could succeed in the face of these ongoing quarrels.