With summer fast approaching many studios are preparing for end-of-school-year recitals. An important aspect of a successful piano recital is the observance of proper recital etiquette. Below are the top ten rules that audience members should observe when attending a recital.
(1) Arrive on time, or a little early. When audience members arrive on time it provides the best opportunity for the performance to begin on time. Arriving a few minutes early will also allow for time to get a program and to get seated. In fact, those who arrive early usually get the best pick on seating.
(2) Limit perfumes or colognes. While perfumes, colognes and scented body lotions do smell good, in a recital/concert setting it is NOT considered appropriate to wear strong smelling scents. Many people have allergies to perfumes. So, out of respect to the other members in the audience it is considered proper etiquette to limit, or refrain from, applying scented items on your body or clothing.
(3) Sit QUIETLY and listen to the performances. The role of the audience is to provide appropriate support and encouragement to the performer, and to receive enjoyment from the performance. As such, it is expected that audience members follow some basic rules:
* No talking, loud whispering, or humming along during a performance. Additionally, noisy candy or cough drop wrappers should be avoided! This can be very distracting to the performer and can (especially in young students) cause problems in the performance. It is also quite distracting for audience members.
* Remain seated during the performance (no wiggling or walking about), and only leave between pieces if absolutely necessary.
* No gum. Smacking and chewing noises can distract other audience members. And, gum dropped in a recital venue can create a “sticky” mess. It is best to use (quiet) breath mints instead.
* No whistling, yelling, or other loud methods of congratulations should be done, especially prior to the performance. If a performer is focused and ready to play, but becomes distracted with the “cat-calling” and “whooping” it can really throw off his performance. While boisterous congratulations are meant to show support for the performer, it may actually cause unintended problems instead. The best way to show appreciation for the performance is with thunderous applause, and an occasional “bravo” at the end of an especially great performance.
(4) Go to the bathroom BEFOREHAND. If it becomes absolutely necessary to leave the hall during the recital it should be done quietly and between pieces rather than in the middle of a piece.
(5) No flash photography. If pictures or video are allowed in the recital it is best to stand in the back and be as unobtrusive or noisy as possible. And, cameras should have the flash turned off. Random and/or unexpected flashing of cameras (along with the clicking noises) can really distract a performer.
(6) Turn off your cell phone or other electronic devices. It’s obvious enough that phone ringing and beeping is very distracting to the performer and the audience alike. It is necessary to save the texting and talking for after the recital is over.
(7) Attend the entire recital. Leaving early is not considered proper etiquette. All of the performers have worked hard to prepare for the event and all deserve equal respect and courtesy (i.e. a full recital hall).
(8) Clap appropriately. In addition to providing applause in congratulations it is also important to remember to only clap at appropriate times. For example, a multi-movement piece should only receive clapping when all of the movements have been played. Also, in piano recitals it is NOT considered appropriate to clap after an especially brilliant passage has been played. Instead, applause is reserved for after the performance is over (or when the performer first enters the stage).
(9) Dress appropriately. Unless otherwise indicated in the invitation the general rule on recital attire is for it to be clean, not have holes or tears, and be more dressy than a tank top or casual t-shirt or other other overly casual clothing (like short jean skirts or shorts). A good practice is to dress as if going to church or on an interview.
(10) Most important of all is to enjoy the music. Creating an environment which allows all audience members to listen to the performances unhindered will result in an enjoyable and valuable experience for all involved. After all music is fun! It should be enjoyed.
There are many benefits to learning, teaching and applying proper recital etiquette. Recital etiquette is an important social skill that audience members should know and practice.
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Cindy Lee Smith