Concert Etiquette: The Audience

Concert etiquette is basically the protocol that you follow for that style of music. For example, rock concert customs are completely different than an orchestra concert. I feel that most people have a sense of how to behave at a casual concert, therefore, we will focus on a more formal or classical setting.

1. Sit back and enjoy the show

Classical concerts that you see in the U.S. are ones where the audience sits to watch. This could be anything from a symphony to a child’s school concert. However, say you need to use the restroom. What you do is wait until a piece is over, leave your seat and the hall as swiftly and quietly as possible; make sure the doors close quietly behind you. Before entering, wait outside the hall doors until you hear the end of a piece or beginning of applause through the doors. Then you would enter the same way as you left. This is particularly important for recital halls or gyms, for it is much easier to hear exterior noise than for a larger concert hall when doors are opened. What’s even worse is at the school setting when younger siblings are given a ball or something to play with at the back of the gym. The objective is to be settled before the concert and intently listen and watch the performance until the end.

2. Avoid noise and other distractions

Despite what I said in the previous paragraph, if there is a young child in the audience being disruptive, for example a crying baby, leave the hall as soon as possible. It is only courteous to the performers and other audience members. Please turn your cell phones off; you never know when your phone will ring, and camera flashes can be really distracting. In recent years, I have noticed people talking or texting to each other in the middle of a performance. Not only are these things off-putting to other audience members, but it is completely disrespectful to the performers. Even at rock concerts, you’d probably hear screaming, but the audience has their full attention on the band. If you’d rather socialize or play, why even be there. Also, screaming and shouting is not appropriate for a classical or formal concert.

So really, there are just two things for audience members to remember at a classical style concert. One, avoid too much movement, and two, be as noiseless as possible. The performers worked hard for their concert, it is only courteous that the audience respects that effort.

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