Sense-ational Concert Etiquette

Sense-ational Concert Etiquette

Some ideas and guidelines about behavior during a concert

by Martha Stanley, NBCT EMC-Music


When we go to concerts, we may go for many reasons, but the most important reason is to watch and listen to the performers. The performers are NOT on television. They are alive; they can see and hear the audience. They want to be able to do a great job for you. Good concert etiquette helps the audience have a good experience. What some people fail to realize is that the audience can also help the performers perform better.
With no visual or auditory distractions, performers can concentrate on giving a great performance. They are trying their best to present an enjoyable musical experience for everyone. Here are a few easy etiquette rules to remember.

  • Arrive on time. Stay till the end of the performance. Don't leave early to beat the rush.
  • Don't wander around in the auditorium, especially while the performers are performing.
  • Turn off all your noise making gadgets, like watches, phones and pagers.
  • Don't take pictures. Especially flash pictures.
  • Take your coughs outside. And noisy kids.
  • Clap enthusiastically to show your appreciation. Don't holler and hoot.


To help the performers do their best use your senses!


  • Don't talk, whisper, whistle, hum, sing, drum your fingers, click a pen, tap a pencil, chew your gum loudly, open up crackly food wrappers or snap your fingers with the music. Don’t sniff, snort, cough or clear your throat.
  • If you start and continue to sneeze, sniff or cough, please leave the auditorium quietly and quickly. This allows others to concentrate on the music, not on you. This includes taking out crying babies and little kids who are talking.
  • Turn the pages of the program or the music score (if you're following along with the performers) so that others can't hear the pages rattle.
  • Come in and be seated before the concert starts. Moving around makes an audience notice your sounds, not the music sounds.
  • Make sure your "beeping" electronic gadgets won't go off during the performance. TURN THEM OFF. This includes watches, phones, beepers and anything else that might disturb others.
  • Do I even need to mention portable radios, portable games and CD players? Leave them at home. (Using a recording device may be considered a copyright violation.  Don't do it.)
  • All performers appreciate enthusiastic applause. Loud screams, whistling, etc., belong at rock concerts, not at symphony performances.
  • Be careful that your clapping is not so loud that it hurts the ears of the people near you.



  • Don't wiggle around, comb your hair, wave your arms, bob your head around, wave your program to try to get your friends attention or rock back and forth in your seat.
  • Please don't wear hats or have "big" hair. You could block the view of five or six people!
  • If you have to use the restroom, do your best to wait. Sit calmly until the music stops and the audience claps. Then in a calm, quick manner, leave the auditorium. Do not come back in until you hear clapping again. Then enter and be seated quickly and quietly.
  • If you arrive late, wait outside the concert hall doors until you hear applause. Then enter quickly and quietly. If you don't know where your seat is, find another seat quickly. Sit there until the intermission so you won't disturb others by hunting for your correct seat. Promise yourself to be on time next time.
  • Never use cameras during a performance. The noise is annoying and the movement of the camera operator is distracting and the flash is just awful! Even the performers can get confused and make mistakes when cameras are going off at the wrong time.
  • The only person who should EVER take a picture during a performance is the person hired by the symphony, the official photographer.
  • Do not bring something else to do while you are listening, like a book, laptop, or homework. Leave your Pokemon cards and other pocket sized fun things at home. Seeing you dig them out and fiddle with them is very disconcerting to others.
  • Dressing up is optional, but a classical concert is one of the few occasions left that might be called "special" in our increasingly casual world. Consider dressing up as a sign of respect. After all, if the musicians are in tuxes and gowns, the least you can do is iron those khakis and wear something better than sneakers. Jeans and flip-flops just won't do.



          It’s hard to imagine that the sense of touch is involved in a concert, but it is. You'll notice it when:

  • the person behind you starts tapping or pushing the back of your seat in time to the music.
  • when someone a few seats down from you keeps rocking her chair around and you can feel it.
  • when the person beside you hogs both arm rests.
  • when the person next to you puts his coat or her purse in the space where your legs are supposed to fit.
  • when someone in the row behind you gets up to leave and accidentally bonks you on the head.

Be considerate. Keep your motions and your "stuff" in your own space!



Yes, even your nose gets into the picture at a concert.
Remember - if you are noticing a scent, you are not noticing the music.
(even if it's a nice scent.)

  • Some folks think that part of dressing up is to put on a lot of v-e-r-y fragrant after shave or perfume. This can make others nauseated, have allergic reactions or headaches. Use "good scents": leave them at home.
  • Some folks get so comfortable in their seats that they remove their shoes and pee-yew - - not a good idea! Keep your shoes on.
  • Some folks don't bathe enough or they have on dirty clothes and they --well, they stink. Don't be one of them.
  • Sometimes the mint or gum that folks eat during concerts has a very strong odor. Don't eat during a concert. Besides, the noise during unwrapping is extremely noticeable during a concert.



Don't do anything 
that makes people notice you 
instead of the performance.