Concert Etiquette: The Performer

A previous post written addressed how the audience should behave during a concert. This one will dive into how the performer or musician should behave when they show respect for the audience.

1. Arrive On Time!

There is a saying that was ingrained into me by music teachers, “early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” As a musician, you want to arrive early enough so that you’re dressed, warmed up, set up, and ready to go with at least ten minutes to spare. That way you can take a moment to breathe and start the performance on time. We don’t want to keep the audience waiting.

2. Dress Appropriately

Unless you perform in a rock band, you almost never would dress in something like jeans and a t-shirt. You want to dress professionally. If you are a solo performer, you are the limelight and have more flexibility for a dress code. This could be a colored dress or suit, or exposing your arms and legs. Just make sure that your skirt is not so short that the people in the front row can not see up it. If you’re in an ensemble, particularly a classical ensemble, everyone usually wears black. You also want to make sure that your legs are fully covered, as well as your shoulders. This creates uniformity within the group.

3. Address the Audience

When people applaud, they are essentially thanking your for performing for them or acknowledging how much they enjoyed your performance. So, you should acknowledge back. Some people wave to their audience, some people open their arms to address the audiences importance. But the one gesture that works for any group, and pretty much the only accepted move for classical performers is the bow. We’re not talking about the head bob or the awkward bow where you’re still keeping eye contact with the audience. We are talking about the bow where you take a second to bend almost perpendicular to stare at the floor, then come back up. This not only addresses the audience, but tends to put everyone at ease. One side note, is if the audience is not clapping, don’t bother bowing, it just makes things uncomfortable.

4. Acknowledge the Accompanist

If there is someone performing with you, whether it’s another ensemble member or someone backing you up on your solo performance. This could be a simple hand gesture towards them and then bowing together. They likely worked just as hard as you did, so give them some recognition.

5. Enjoy the Show

I still get nervous when I perform, but if you are dreading your performance, the audience will feel that, which in turn makes you more nervous and starts causing unnecessary mistakes. You likely worked hard on your music, so go out there and have fun making music. Before your last piece, be sure to thank the audience for their time and then end with a big finale.

To summarize a performers etiquettecy, they should be professional, be timely, acknowledge everyone there, and have fun. If you liked these tips, feel free to give a like and leave your comments below.

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