Angry tweets and Facebook posts abound amongst my friends who attend classical concerts. Hardly a month goes by in which I don’t read somebody’s rant against a rude person talking or texting during the performance.
You might have read a few rants yourself. The next time you do, please don’t think your classically-incline friend is snobby. She was simply taught the rules of classical concert etiquette that many people obviously miss out on.
The rules of concert etiquette make the music hall experience more enjoyable for everybody. If you violate them, your classical friends will want to rip their hair out—or worse, your hair. So let’s protect ourselves from premature baldness by respecting these simple guidelines.
The rules can be summarized in one word: respect. It’s important to be courteous to the performers and to your fellow audience members. If everybody obeys these simple rules, then we can all go home feeling respected and happy:
Rules of Concert Etiquette
1) Turn off your cell phone, or any other noise or light-making device.
2) No flash photography. There may be copyright issues involved with picture-taking, but the real hazard is distracting the performers and annoying others around you.
3) Clap at the end of sets, not between movements. The program will clarify where sets begin and end. If in doubt, don’t clap.
4) Don’t talk during the performance—or at least not audibly to others around you.
5) Keep noise-making in general to a minimum. Don’t fidget with jingly jewelry and accessories. Don’t be that person rustling noisy candy wrappers. Laughing may be appropriate, but try not to let it get out of hand.
6) Dressing up is preferred. You don’t have to spend lots of money on concert-going attire, but wearing something nicer than the movie theater shows some respect for the higher arts. Business casual, Sunday best or semi-formal are all appropriate choices.
7) Serious concert halls are not always child-friendly. If your child is able to sit quietly, by all means, bring him or her to the concert hall. However, some venues discourage children under certain ages (like 6, 8 or even 12 years of age) from attending simply because they can be distracting to others. Use your judgment on this one.
These rules take no time at all to master. All they require is an attitude of respect for the performers, the audience members, and the art being presented. If you can abide by these rules, the concert experience will be a sweet memory for all involved.