The following information is from MENC’s Teacher Success Kit, loaded with information to help music teachers succeed in the classroom.
Music teachers should assume responsibility for “teaching” concert etiquette to their students. Here is information you can share with your students.
Concerts in the Gymnasium
Some schools do not have an auditorium in which to present concerts. Often the gymnasium serves as the concert hall. When you are in this situation, it is a good idea before the concert begins to remind the audience of the differences in behavior for an athletic event in the gymnasium and a concert in the gymnasium.
▪ Remain seated and quiet when the performance is in progress.
▪ If it is necessary to leave the gymnasium before the concert is over, please do so between numbers.
▪ Clapping is the appropriate way to show appreciation for the performance rather than whistling or cheering.
▪ Parents should keep small children seated with them on the bleachers and not allow them to run up and down the bleachers during the concert.
You Are Part of the Concert
The audience members, as well as the musicians, are participants in every concert. When you participate in listening to the music, you will be taking an important part by sharing this experience with others in the audience and with the musicians on stage. Formal concerts are much different from rock concerts or sporting events, and require you to know some specific concert manners. In order to make a concert enjoyable for everyone, here are some tips to remember:
▪ Enter the auditorium quietly. Once you have been seated, be alert to activity on the stage as the musicians take their place for the concert. At an orchestra concert, the concertmaster begins by tuning the orchestra. The audience must be quiet while the orchestra tunes.
▪ When the conductor enters, it is customary to applaud politely. Whistling, yelling, or screaming is not appropriate at any time before, during, or after a concert.
▪ Never stand or move around while music is being performed. It distracts listeners around you, as well as the performers. If you must leave for any reason, wait until a piece is finished, and the audience is applauding. Also, return to your seat only between numbers.
▪ It is impolite to talk, or even whisper, while the music is being performed. Listeners and performers are also distracted by sounds from programs, candy wrappers, jewelry and other objects. Remain still, and be thoughtful of others by talking or making sounds only between numbers.
▪ It is impolite to wear hats or caps during a concert.
▪ It is impolite to eat or drink refreshments during a concert.
▪ Always say “excuse me,” if you must pass in front of someone while going to or from your seat.
▪ If you must cough or sneeze while the music is being performed, always try to muffle the sound with a tissue or handkerchief. Wait until the piece is finished if possible.
▪ Watch the conductor when the music stops to decide whether or not to applaud. Some musical works have several parts or movements and the audience is expected to applaud only after all movements have been performed.
▪ When leaving an auditorium, always return your seat cushion to the upright position to make it easy for others to pass through the rows.
If you always remember these simple rules, and use your own good manners, you can feel confident attending a concert anywhere.
Printing a Reminder in Your Concert Programs
Music teachers in the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland include the following in their printed programs:
Thank you for joining us this evening. As the audience, you are an important part of tonight’s concert. The audience’s responsibility at formal concerts is to honor the efforts of the performers by providing a listening atmosphere in which their performance can be appreciated by all. To that end, we ask your cooperation:
While the performance is in progress, remain seated and quiet. (If it becomes necessary to leave the auditorium, please do so between musical selections.)
If very young children become restless and disrupt others’ ability to listen, please take them from the auditorium until they are quiet.
Please do not hum or clap along with the performers, unless specifically invited to do so.
Show your appreciation for the performance by clapping after each selection. Whistling and cheering are not appropriate at a formal concert.