École Handsworth Secondary
North Vancouver School District
Audience Etiquette

How to be a well-mannered audience member

The key to audience etiquette is to know what is considered good manners for the type of performance you are attending. What is appropriate in one context doesn't always readily translate to another.

If you go the theatre to watch a play, talking through it will upset members of the audience around you and perhaps even the cast on stage. The same applies to a musical presentation in a concert hall.

However if you go to a large outdoor political rally or rock concert you'll be free to comment to your heart's content.

So what is generally accepted audience etiquette for listening to musicians?

Arrive early. The starting time is generally the signal for the MC speaker to begin, not for you to be finding your seat.

Turn all electronic gadgetry off. Remember that you are here to hear. Save texting and social media for before or after the concert. Or if you must have your cell phone on, set it to vibrate and make sure you're seated on the end of a row near an exit.

Consideration is the key.  Remember the sound of someone chewing gum, eating or slurping on a water bottle can be disruptive to others. You may not think you're being distracting but if those around you experience your behavior as such, you are. If you need cough drops or tissues have them ready rather than having to rummage through your bag for them.

Keep private whispered conversations to a minimum. Please do not talk, sing along, hum, or yell, or keep a beat with a body part during a performance.

If you're a habitual rattler of programs, keys, or coins put them out of your own way to avoid temptation.

Remaining alert and actively listening. Slouching, yawning and falling asleep does little for the performer’s confidence and the audience around you hate it if you snore!

It is very, very important that you stay in your own seat and remain quietly seated throughout the concert for two reasons:

It is disrespectful to the performers who are working hard to perform good music.

It is disrespectful to other audience members to interfere in their enjoyment of the music in any way.

Stay to the end of the concert. Never enter or leave a concert hall or auditorium while a concert in progress unless it is an absolute emergency. If you arrive late or need to leave early, make every attempt to wait until intermission or a break in the program. It is considered to be very rude to leave a concert that is in progress except in cases of dire need or emergency.

Show appreciation for the effort the musicians have gone to practice, rehearse, and deliver the performance.  Clap when it's appropriate. A musician needs your response. Your laughter, eye contact, and clapping all let them know they’re doing a good job. Clap at the end of Concert or Strings arrangements but not between sections if a multipart arrangement, however clapping after solos during a Jazz performance is encouraged.
However if you feel they’re not performing well, it is not considered good manners to make that public knowledge. Audience etiquette follows the 'do unto others as you would have done unto you' rule.