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What is Audience Etiquette?

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When you go to a concert, it’s probably not a surprise that you should turn your phone to Silent mode, sit quietly, and focus your attention toward the performers. This is great to remember, but there is actually a lot more to audience etiquette.

First and foremost, try to arrive at the concert on time, if not a little earlier. This can prevent overcrowding in the venue or interruptions during the performance. If you are late, wait until the applause before entering the auditorium.

Additionally, please refrain from talking, or even whispering, throughout the performances. It may be tempting to comment on a piece that you know or point out to your seat partner someone you recognize on stage. However, it is very disruptive, especially to those nearby, to try to block out talking while trying to focus on the performance.

With the age of technology, many people want to capture every moment of the concert, taking videos and photos. When taking photos, not only should the device’s flash be turned off, but the brightness of your screen should also be lowered. iPads, especially, should be on the lowest brightness level possible as the largeness of the device can block the view for those around and behind you.

Furthermore, symphonic works often consist of multiple movements, and one should not applaud until the end of all the movements. Now you may wonder, how does one know when just a movement is over, or the complete piece? The answer all lies in the conductor’s hands. If the conductor’s hands are still up, meaning not by their sides, this piece is still not over. Remember, even if there is a long period of silence (which is quite normal in multi-movement pieces), or you see performers turning pages, do not clap! There is more to come. Once the conductor has put down their hands and the baton, you can start to clap.

Finally, try not to fall asleep. While this may seem obvious, sometimes it’s just hard to stay awake after a long day, listening to beautiful melodies. If you know you’re a snorer, put in extra effort to keep awake; trust me, you won’t regret it.

Audience etiquette is worth paying attention to, no matter if you are a frequent concert-goer or have only been to one concert. Following these simple norms will enhance the experience for you and those around you, too. Keep in mind that norms for other concert events such as pop concerts can be different, such as taking out your flashlights and waving them up in the air, cheering while performers are performing, or eating/drinking in the venue.

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