At the Academy, we hold several musical recitals each year. In addition to the musical skills that our children are exercising, a benefit of recitals is the opportunity to develop proper concert etiquette. Being a musician requires practice. Being a great musician requires LOTS of practice. As adults we recognize the fact that good manners dictate that we respect the hard work and time that a performer has put in to prepare the performance we are watching. For younger students this intrinsic respect for the performer may not make as much sense.
Encouraging young people to use good manners and proper etiquette while attending musical and other performances is often easier said than done. The problem is that most people wait until just minutes before an event or performance to tell their children or students what to do and how to act. To teach a child proper manners requires a little bit more advanced planning.
Please use the following guidelines as a foundation for an ongoing discussion of proper concert etiquette with your children.
- Refrain from talking during each piece.
- Hold your applause until all selections in a set are completed. One of the current musical performance practices is for a performer to acknowledge all applause. It can be difficult for young and less experienced performers to maintain concentration, especially when there are multiple pieces for a single performer or group. Some classical pieces of music are broken down into parts called movements. In between these movements the music will stop for a few seconds. The slight pause between movements is the time for the performer to set the mental tone for the next section. Having to acknowledge applause by bowing can disrupt the performer’s concentration. Sometimes applause during a selection is appropriate. For example, if there are soloists in an ensemble such as a jazz band, the audience often claps when the soloists finish their solos. Generally, the director also acknowledges the soloists during the applause for the entire group when each number is completed.
- Turn off all cell phones. Do not use flash photography.
- Remain seated during the performance. Enter and exit your seat only between selections. If it is necessary to leave the room or return during the recital, wait quietly at the back of the room until the end of the particular selection. It is acceptable to leave with a restless or crying child. If possible however, wait until the audience is applauding before moving. Every performer should have the same respect accorded for every selection.
- Whistling, yelling, or otherwise congratulating the performers is generally not appropriate for classical music concerts.
The whole idea of showing respect for a person by using good manners and proper concert etiquette is to build a sense of common courtesy that is important both in and out of the concert hall. Since good manners are so important in all areas of life it makes sense to practice good manners in the concert hall, too.