Music surrounds us almost all the time- it’s on the radio, in movies, and playing over the speakers at restaurants and malls. If you’re reading this blog, you probably even play an instrument yourself. You may be well accustomed to performing in front of a live audience, but how often do you experience live music as a member of the audience? The difference between enjoying music in the privacy of your own home and experiencing it live are about as different as night and day. If you’re heading to your first classical concert or orchestral performance, here are some tips and advice that’ll help you make the most of it.
When choosing a concert or live performance to attend, choose something you think you’ll enjoy the most. After all, if you prefer horror movies why would you purchase tickets to a romantic comedy? The same logic can (and should!) be applied to live music. Whether it’s heading to a live performance of the Star Wars score or something a little more traditional in nature, if your first instinct is that you’ll enjoy it you probably will. Don’t worry about impressing your band or orchestra teacher by heading to a fancy opera or searching through your parents records to find something they’ll enjoy. This is your night out and your first experience with a live performance, so make it something to remember. Bachtrack is a good place to get started. Search through their list, and find the classical music concert that speaks to you.
More Expensive Isn’t Always Better
Contrary to popular belief, the more expensive seats at the opera aren’t always the best seats in the house. Concert halls are designed with acoustics in mind, so the sound should be good wherever you sit. Whether you sit behind the orchestra in the choir seats or in the very last row, you’re sure to enjoy your time at your very first classical concert. If you’re concerned about the price, there are a few things you can do to save money. In some cases, certain venues or symphonies offer student discounts and deals, so keep an eye out of tickets that are reduced in price. If you know of a friend or family member who has season tickets, ask them if you could take advantage of their seats when not in use. Chances are, they’d be more than happy to share the gift of music with you.
Do Your Research
Once you’ve settled on a performance and secured your tickets, head online and do some research. Wikipedia is a good place to start. If you’re heading to a classical performance, read the composer’s bio, and learn everything you can about how the music was received at the time. If you chose an opera or a play, become familiar with the plot. In many cases, operas are written in foreign languages. If you have a general understanding of the plot before heading to the performance, you won’t feel pressured to keep up with the translation. Instead, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Next, listen to some of the music in advance. YouTube and Spotify should have copies available to stream; if they don’t, head to your local library or speak with your music teacher for additional guidance. He or she may even have a copy of the music they’ll let you borrow.
Get There Early
Half of the fun of a classical concert is the atmosphere. Try to arrive about an hour early, take the time to find your seats, and soak up your surroundings. Head to the bar for a Shirley Temple or Arnold Palmer and be sure to spring the extra bucks on a program. Not only will a program be packed with articles and interesting information about the performers, but it’ll serve as a keepsake of your very first classical concert. Of course, you can skip the program altogether and let the performance wash over you. Another fun thing to do while you wait is people watch. Some audience members dress up more than others for classical performances, and checking out their outfits can be entertaining.
Although there aren’t many “rules” at a classical concert or opera, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, listen and enjoy. Try not to talk during the performance and, if you do, make sure to keep it at a whisper. There’s a tradition to avoid clapping between movements of a symphony and concerto, although that rule gets broken from time to time. If you aren’t sure when to applaud, follow the lead of those around you. At the very end of the concert, some audience members may get on their feet for a standing ovation. If you’ve enjoyed your time at the concert, stand up and join them. Finally, as you head out the doors, it may be time to start thinking about what your next concert will be. There should be some suggestions in the concert program, so why not look into those and start planning!
Prefer to be the one performing? Learn How to Handle Making Mistakes During a Performance and How to Start a Band.
Photo via Johan, CC