There is nothing to compare to the live concert experience, both for the performer and for the audience. Ideally, performers present a well-prepared, inspired and excellent musical experience for the audience. Part of a musician’s performance is their non-musical presentation. If the performer does not understand the proper stage behavior, it can detract from an otherwise good performance. The following are a few suggestions to performers and audience members about concert etiquette.
Wear comfortable and flattering outfits that are simple, yet elegant. Avoid outfits that attract more attention than your performance. Make sure your outfit is not restrictive when holding and playing your instrument. Check to see that no undergarments ‘peek’ out when you play. For more information about appropriate concert and recital attire, click here.
When an audience acknowledges a performance with applause, the performer should show appreciation with a bow. If a performer does not bow, it could be seen as rude behavior toward the audience.
When performing a work with the composer present, be gracious and acknowledge the composer before taking your own bow.
When performing a concerto with a large ensemble, at the conclusion of the work, turn and shake hands with the conductor, followed by the concert master (principal violinist), acknowledge the composer (if in attendance), and then take a bow.
Do your practicing and warming up at home. Avoid long practice sessions backstage if you can be heard in the hall. Audience members do not want to hear you practice, they want to hear you perform.
Greet the audience members with warmth and appreciation. These people took the time and effort to attend your concert. Be gracious and speak to those who wish a few words with you. This is not a time to analyze your performance nor dismiss their congratulations for you. Accept their compliments with a simple “thank-you” or “I’m glad you enjoyed it.” Thank them for coming.
Audience members should recognize that performers are trying their best to present an enjoyable musical experience for everyone. To do this, performers must focus on many details. The performer’s intense concentration can be interrupted by little things that may seem trivial to audience members. The following suggestions can help audience members show respect to performers, the other audience members and help performers do their best.
Leave early and allow enough time for parking and traffic. If you do arrive late, wait by the doors until the first piece (not just a movement) is finished, then discreetly take the nearest seat available.
Talking should not be tolerated. It is not only distracting to the performer, but to every person in the audience. It is just plain rude to talk (even whispering can be heard) during a musical performance.
ALL electronic devices -- cell phones, computers, iPods, etc. -- should be turned off and put away during performances. Not only are the sounds they make disruptive, but the glow from screens, which can be seen by audience members and performers, is very distracting.
Avoid rustling your program, tapping your foot, bouncing your legs, etc. Pagers and cell phones should be turned off. Watches set to beep on the hour should also be turned off. These high-pitched beeps are distracting to everyone.
It is hard to avoid a spontaneous cough, but random coughing should be held if possible. Be prepared with some type of cough drops or candies. Avoid cellophane wrappers. Many come with a soft wax paper wrapping that will be much less noisy.
Refrain from taking any photographs during a performance. Oftentimes, the taking of pictures during a performance is also illegal. The click of a camera and especially the flash are very distracting. Pictures should be taken after the performance.
Children need exposure to good music and live performances, but young children may not be able to sit still long enough for a concert. Some children, like pagers, may ‘go off’ unexpectedly. This is a difficult thing to ignore and is disruptive to performers and the audience. Take advantage of special children’s concerts and more casual concert settings (concerts in the park, Young Audience concerts in the schools, etc.) to prepare them for future concert attendance.
Applause is always appreciated by performers, but there are appropriate moments to applaud. In a multi-movement work, applaud after all movements are completed. This allows the continuity of the piece to flow from one movement to the next.
By following basic edicts of respect and consideration, performers and the audience will have a more pleasurable and meaningful experience as they perform and attend live concerts.
The information on concert etiquette (except the material on electronic devices) was written by Laurel Ann Maurer and is reproduced here, with permission, from http://members.aol.com/utaharts/lam/concertetiquette.htm. Ms. Maurer’s home page can be found at http://www.laurelannmaurer.com/.