Want to know the biggest reason people give for not attending a classical music concert? They don't understand the etiquette and are afraid they will make a mistake and embarrass themselves. This is terrifying news to orchestras all over the world who are desperately trying to capture new audience members. After you read this post you will know everything you need to know to confidently attend any classical concert of your choosing.
#1 What should I wear?
This one depends on what kind of concert you're going to. If you're going to see an orchestra or an opera at a concert hall, you'll want to dress nicely. Business attire should be the minimum. If the concert is outdoors than business casual will do just fine. Either way, its always safe to stay away from sneakers, t-shirts and jeans.
#2 When should I clap?
Knowing when to clap is usually the most confusing to understand. You should clap whenever the concert master (violinist who tunes the orchestra), conductor, or soloist enter the stage. During the concert you should only clap after complete works. A symphony or concerto will usually have three to four movements and there will be a brief pause between each one. This is where there is some gray area, traditionally you shouldn't clap during these pauses but in recent years this rule has been somewhat relaxed. A good rule of thumb, never be the first person to clap.
#3 When can I use my phone?
The best thing you can do is to turn off your cellphone completely during the performance and just enjoy the concert. If you need to be able to check your phone, make sure its completely silenced and you should even turn the vibrator off. Here are some things you should definitely not do: take a phone call, text, or tweet throughout the performance. In a dark hall, other concert goers may find your bright screen distracting. Some classical concerts now have tweet seats to allow tweeting during a performance, but unless you have one of these seats its best to keep the tweeting to a minimum.
#4 Can I take pictures?
For this one there's not always a simple answer. Traditionally, concert hall performances don't allow picture taking, but outdoor concerts usually do. Make sure to listen to the pre-concert announcement. Most of the time they will tell you picture taking is prohibited, but this rule is becoming more relaxed because of social media. If picture taking is allowed, then make sure all sounds/flash on your camera or phone are turned off. Also make sure to never leave your seat or stand up during the performance to get a better shot.
#5 Should I bring my children?
For this one you'll have to use your own discretion. Exposing your child to the arts is always a great thing, however bringing a child younger than five or six may not be the best idea. If you decide to bring a young child, be prepared in case he or she becomes upset and you need to remove the child from the hall. Try getting seats near an aisle, that way you can make a quick exit to a quieter area, such as a lobby or bathroom. If you bring something for your child to play with during the concert, make sure its something quiet and won't distract surrounding audience members. Before going to the concert, it might be a good idea to sit your child down and have them watch a video clip (if available) of the performance they are going to see on YouTube. This will give them a chance to understand what they are going to, allows them to ask any questions, and gives you an opportunity to discuss what kind of behavior is expected of them.
That's all of my suggestions, if you think I missed anything, please leave your suggestions in the comments or feel free to contact us!