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Concert policies: Talking by audience during concerts


Evidently this is a pretty common problem! I got lots of responses.
The original post in listed below followed by a summary of the responses

Original post:

Last Thursday something happened during our concert that I've never had
to deal with before. Someone (or several someones) sitting in about the
third or fourth row was whispering during the entire concert, pausing
only to applaud. I didn't notice it too much during the first part of
the program because I was standing closer to the choir. During
intermission the choir was talking about it and how distracting it was.
I moved farther from the choir in the second half and then I could hear
it, even while the choir was singing. Some in the choir were glaring at
talkers and I even gave them "the look" during one piece. That helped
some, but I really had trouble focusing for a couple of pieces. I think
they were students, non-majors, probably there as part of a concert
requirement for Music Appreciation.

Have any of you ever had to deal with this? Is there a protocol for
such a thing? After the concert I thought that I should have said
something like "I would like to remind everyone that our concerts are
recorded and that any talking, or even whispering, during the
performance comes through on the recording."

Let me know what you thing the best way to handle this is? I'll post a


While some mentioned that automatic weapons might come into play, most
responses fell into the following categories:

1) Some sort of announcement from the stage like I mentioned above.
(We have a recorded message that plays at the beginning of each concert
that covers things like cell phones, etc. We will be modifying it next
year to include talking or any other noise that might be disturbing to
audience or performers.)

2) A line or two about audience etiquette printed in the program. One
person suggested such guidelines be posted in the foyer of the hall.

3) Stopping in the middle of the piece, addressing the issue,
restarting the piece, and continuing. Some suggested directly
addressing the offenders. Using the word "rude" was mentioned
frequently. Waiting and staring until the problem stopped was also
mentioned by several.

4) Ushers that would be charged with upholding the "law."

5) Several were very adamant that the recording factor shouldn't be
brought up - that it was bad behavior and should be addressed as such.
The performers and the (listening) audience both deserve that much

I guess the bottom line is: Our work as educators extends to the
audience as well as the singers.

Stephen M. Hopkins
Director of Choral Activities
Hayes School of Music
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608
email: hopkinssm(a)

on July 7, 2007 10:00pm

I think,the best thing is to kill it before the music starts,
in other words wait until the silience is total.
These people will very clearly understand what you are trying to say
to them.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 14, 2008 10:00pm
Last night we were at a concert in a 500 people auditorium.
There were two couples across from us who as they drank more alcohol they talked louder and louder. My sweet heart and I did not pay to hear these a...go on and on. The rudeness and disrespect of the artists bugged me...and I really didn't think I should have to filter their crap out of my hearing. So... I simple got up and went over the the fake blond and told her that it was disrepectful of the artists and would they stop talking so loud. The woman and the group (not listening to anything I said) said over and over in a fake way and drunk SORRY SORRY... as loudly and obnoxiously as they were before. My final words to the end of my polite informing of her was simply SHUT UP!
I have been a performer and I can say that that rudeness is distracting.
The group... quieted down a little, overcompensating by screaming at the performers...and then acted like asses...when the show was over..toward me. But really...they were talking through beautiful songs!
Its simple if you want to have assinine loud convervations go outside...
the people around you don't give a rats ass about how cool you think you are and did not come to a performance to listen to your garbage.
This issue really bugs me...