How to be a good audience member
Etiquette is a big word that means “manners.”
Just about everyone at a concert has a certain set of “manners” to follow. The musicians on stage have a certain set of rules they follow, even down to their clothing so that they all look as if they are part of one large instrument—the orchestra! They take direction from their leader, the concertmaster, so they know when to sit and stand, and when to tune their instruments.
The conductor follows certain rules so that when he/she takes the stage, all is ready for his first downbeat. All of the orchestra members on stage are expected to follow directions of the conductor. Most of the time during the concert, the conductor is giving the directions by using his baton.
Following the final notes of a piece of music, the director will usually signal the concertmaster to stand. The rest of the orchestra follows the concertmaster’s lead.
Sometimes the conductor will ask a member of the orchestra to stand alone. This is usually to give the audience the chance to thank that player for a particularly well-done solo or very exposed part. Audience thanks usually comes in the form of applause.
It is important that audience members remain quiet during the performance. Since music is mostly a listening activity, any extra sounds that are not part of the music can get in the way of the music.
Attending a Young People’s Concert
Before You Take Your Seat:
- Take care of all rest room needs.
- Leave all food, drink, and gum outside the concert hall.
- Leave all cameras and recording devices outside the hall as well. There are strict copyright guidelines about recording concerts, and even the symphony pays an annual licensing fee to be able to perform the copyrighted music.
- Turn off all cell phones, pages, watch sounds, alarms, or anything that might make a noise. The only sounds that should be heard are the ones that appear in the musical score (and the audience reaction after the music).
Once You Take Your Seat:
- Think about things you learned at school before the concert.
- Show appreciation by applauding when the concertmaster enters to tune the orchestra, and applaud again when the conductor enters the stage.
- Watch the conductor carefully to see the cues he gives the orchestra to get them to play the music they have rehearsed.
- Remain seated and quiet while the musicians are playing. Be sure to sit without fidgeting so you don’t distract your neighbors or the performers on stage. Sometimes the conductor may ask you to participate by clapping along or singing along. Take your cue on this from the conductor, just as the orchestra members do.
- Show appreciation by applauding at the end of compositions. If you really like a particular musical selection, it is also acceptable to stand as you clap. This shows the orchestra that you thought their performance was very well done.