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Audience members are typically expected to act a certain way during performances, and this concert etiquette can vary, depending on what type of concert it is. Classical music concert goers, for example, are typically expected to be relatively quiet during a performance, and applause should be held until after a song is completely finished. Rock concert goers, on the other hand, can typically get a little louder and more rambunctious. Some concert etiquette still applies to these types of concerts, though.
Concerts should be a fun and enjoyable situation for everyone in attendance, including the musicians. No matter what type of concert one is attending, he is still be expected to adhere to the rules of concert etiquette. Some concerts may be a more strict than others.
Classical music concerts are often events when concert etiquette is considered to be very important. One should generally arrive a few minutes before the show starts, so he can be in his seat at the beginning of the first musical number. If he is delayed and arrives late, it may be considered rude to walk in and take his seat in the middle of a musical performance. Instead, he should wait for one song to end before taking his seat, so he does not disturb other audience members while the music is being played.
Many classical music concerts are directed by a composer, and when he walks onto the stage, it is usually considered appropriate for the audience members to applaud. During a musical performance of this kind, concert etiquette generally states that audience members should remain quiet. It is usually recommended that they do not talk and turn their cell phones off, for example. They should then applaud only when they are sure that the musical number is completely finished. This is often signaled by the composer, who lowers his arms when each song is done.
Concert etiquette for other types of concerts, like jazz concerts, are usually a little more relaxed. Audience members are usually not chastised for making a small amount of noise, as long as it is not excessive or bothering other audience members. For instance, they may talk quietly during a performance.
Rock and heavy metal concert etiquette is typically very relaxed, but audience members are still expected to show some manners and generally good decorum during a performance. For instance, audience members are not usually discouraged from talking, or even whistling and cheering, at these types of concerts. People should make sure that their noise levels are not excessive or annoying other audience members, though.
Also, rock concerts are often very crowded, particularly in the areas surrounding the stage. In large groups of people like this, it is not unusual to bump into others occasionally, but one should still pay attention to his surroundings. Stepping on someone's foot or bumping into them repeatedly can not only cause an injury, but it may cause a fight as well.
One thing that bothers me at rock or country concerts is the number of people who stand during the entire show. I either have to stand up myself or just catch a few glimpses of the performer on stage. If there's a giant TV screen, I might be able to see what's actually going on. I wish people would respect the people behind them and sit down between songs or pick their moments a little better. I might stand up during a big hit song, but I don't want to be on my feet all night.
I will say that some rules of etiquette can be difficult for first time concertgoers to follow. If the orchestra is playing a traditional sonata, for example, there are usually three or four separate movements. There will be a period of silence between each movement, but it is considered impolite to applaud during those pauses. It's not unusual to hear a smattering of applause after a particularly rousing movement. I've been to dozens of classical performance myself and I still fight the urge to clap after every movement.
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