Concert Manners

8 Things to Keep in Mind When Watching a Classical Concert

Classical music in Montreal flourishes courtesy of the Schulich School of Music's free concerts.

The Schulich School of Music

Going to a classical concert is very exciting indeed, but for a first-timer, it can be quite confusing. The ambiance at a classical concert is very different than, let's say, a rock concert. The attire is more formal, the audience is expected to stay quiet during the performance and sudden outbursts of appreciation are generally frowned upon. However, watching a classical concert can be a very enjoyable and memorable experience if you keep these simple tips in mind:

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Dress Appropriately

What you wear depends on the type of concert you are going to. Since we're talking about classical concerts, it's best to wear something that's in between; not too casual and yet not too formal. For example, wear something that you would to a job interview or a business meeting. It's also advisable not to wear hats as this will obstruct the view of the person behind you.

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Mind Your Time

Make sure that you arrive before the concert starts. This will give you enough time to find your assigned seat. Also, stay in your seat until the end of the performance. Standing up, wandering about or leaving the concert hall before the end of a performance is disrespectful.

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Stay Quiet

This is the most important rule in concert etiquette. As best you can, avoid talking, whispering, whistling, singing along or humming to the music while the concert is ongoing so as not to distract other people. Listening attentively to the music and paying attention to the performers on stage will help you appreciate the concert more.

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Stay Still

Of course nobody expects you to sit perfectly still; however, stretching while you're seated, tapping your feet, cracking your knuckles or chewing gum are inappropriate. These actions also distract other viewers and the musicians themselves. Try your best to stay put while the concert is ongoing.

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Alarm Off

If possible, leave items like cell phones and wristwatches with alarms at home. If you really need to bring these things with you, make sure to turn it off or set it to vibrate/silent mode before the concert starts.

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Flashes Off

Flash photography is usually not allowed during concerts. The reason behind this is the flash from your camera can distract the musicians. Other items like camcorders and camera phones are usually not allowed and may pose copyright violations. When in doubt, ask organizers first before you use these gadgets.

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Hold Your Applause

It is a common practice when watching classical concerts to hold your applause until the end of a music piece. However, this might get confusing if you're unfamiliar with the piece being performed. Your safest bet is to clap when most of the audience starts clapping.

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Take Advantage of Intermissions

Concerts usually have intermissions; this is the time when it's OK to leave your seat. If you need to, you can go to the restroom, get a drink or a snack, or call someone on your cellphone during intermissions.