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How to Practice Concert-Hall Etiquette

Make the most of a classical, live-music experience by following a few guidelines.


  • Step 1: Be quiet during the performance. Avoid whispering, humming, turning around in your seat, tapping your feet, fidgeting, or rummaging through personal belongings. Remain seated while the concert is in progress unless there is an emergency.
  • Step 2: Applaud only at appropriate times, such as at the end of a full piece of music. Check the program notes to help you follow the orchestra's progress.
  • Step 3: Use the facilities or get refreshments at intermission. Food and beverages are not usually allowed outside the designated lounge areas, so enjoy them before you go back inside the auditorium. Showing courtesy helps your fellow audience members enjoy the show, and lets the performers know you appreciate their talents.
  • FACT: The Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was designed by Frank Gehry and took 16 years to complete.
  • TIP: Sucking on a lozenge is acceptable--especially if you have a cough--but make sure you unwrap it and pop it in your mouth before the performance begins.
  • Step 4: Don't eat, drink, or chew gum.
  • Step 5: Arrive no later than 20 minutes before the start of the performance to allow time to find your seat, use the facilities, and settle in. Doors generally open one hour prior to the concert, but check with the concert promoter for specific times.
  • TIP: If you're late, you'll be seated during the first convenient break in the program.
  • Step 6: Turn off electronic devices--like cell phones, pagers, and watches--or switch them to silent mode. Check with the concert hall to see if cameras or recording equipment are allowed.
  • Step 7: Dress appropriately, in elegant, semi-formal, or business attire. Formal attire is sometimes required for special events, such as opening night, so find out in advance. Don't wear jewelry that makes jangling or tinkling sounds.

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