Classical Performances

With flute world, they hold flute events around schools to educate students on selecting their new instruments, locally and nationally. There are different performance types and venues, each with different requirements.

The Formal Performance:

A famous classical guitarist once went on stage and sat down to begin his performance. Before he struck the first note, someone in the audience coughed. He stood up and informed the audience that, when they were ready to listen, he was ready to play. An exaggerated example of formality—and, perhaps, ego—to be sure, but formal performances require certain types of behavior on the part of the audience. There are some general rules that you have to follow at any classical or other formal music performance.

  • Always turn off cell phones
  • Never use any electronic device that produces light or sound
  • Do not speak during the performance

Most often, the musicians you see perform in formal settings will be accustomed to an audience that follows these rules of etiquette. Most musicians will not storm off the stage in the fashion of our offended guitarist, but they will become distracted by noise and a noisy, unappreciative crowd makes it impossible for them to perform up to their highest standards.

Formal music performances sometimes have dress requirements, as well. This is looser in some areas. For example, if you go to an opera in Europe or New York, you have to dress the part, in some cases. This means tuxes for men and gowns for ladies. If you go to an opera in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it’s fine to show up in jeans and it’s fine to tailgate before the performance. You have to know ahead of time what’s expected of you before the performance. Etiquette in performance settings is far more than a formality.

Classical musicians—and other fine arts players—invest a great deal of their lives into perfecting their renditions of very complex pieces. Following the rules of etiquette is a way that the audience shows respect for the musician and respect for what they do. Be sure that you take the time to show performers your appreciation by adhering to the conventions of the venue.

Important: In classical performances, there are traditionally long pauses between the movements of a symphony or the various parts of long form compositions. When it’s time for you to applaud, the conductor will turn to face the crowd. If the conductor doesn’t turn around, they’re still conducting and the ensemble is still playing. Stay quiet.

If you have to get up to use the restroom, do it quickly and don’t ask anyone to get out of your way. They’ll move to accommodate you if you just start walking through the aisle. Some performances do not allow people to come or go while they’re ongoing, so be sure to get refreshments, use the restroom and take care of all other needs before the first note is struck.

Informal Performances:

Informal performances are much looser in their requirements, but can be just as rich in their offerings. Be sure, however, that you do pay attention to what the musicians need from the audience. For example, if you have a friend giving an informal violin recital, make sure that you stay quiet while they’re playing and that you show some class after they’re done by giving them loud applause.

In most settings other than the most formal settings, the rules are very lax. Remember, however, that some informal performances are designed to be participatory and it’s considered poor etiquette to sit out during these elements. If you’re attending a performance by a gospel group, for instance, there may well be call-and-response passages that the audience is expected to participate in. This can be a lot of fun and, if you don’t participate, you haven’t really experienced the music at all.

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