As a reporter who frequently covers the University Center for the Arts and a classical musician of over a decade, I have conducted and attended my fair share of performances.
Whenever I am watching a performance at the UCA, I can always tell when an essay deadline for a entry level music class is approaching because the concert hall is filled with Colorado State students armed with notebooks and pens.
The sight is usually encouraging,I know many students have never been exposed to classical music or formal recitals. However, excitement quickly fades to annoyance when I see the behavior many students exhibit while at the concert.
Whether it is due to a lack of knowledge about proper etiquette at a classical performance or students simply not caring, here are some tips for how to be a good audience member at a UCA performance:
1. Be quiet.
Even if you are sitting in a back corner, your whispers will carry, and it is not only distracting to the people around you but it is irritating to the community members who actually paid for their tickets. If your conversation is that important either go into the hall, or take the elementary school route and pass notes. Besides, you should be listening and analyzing the performance to begin with. It is an assignment, after all.
2. Turn off your phone.
At least silence it and stick it in your backpack or something. You would think the combination of the signs posted everywhere and common decency would make this an easy issue, but I was appalled to see the number of people using their phones during concerts, particularly in the upper level of the Organ Recital Hall where they do not think anyone can see them. They were not even using their devices to text their family members about an medical emergency. They were browsing Instagram or scrolling through Facebook. I promise the Snapchat from your crush can wait. Not only is it extremely rude to the people around you, but the light is distracting to the musicians onstage. Yes, they can see you. Yes, even if you are in the balcony. Do not be that person. Turn it off.
3. Stay the whole time.
I cannot stress this enough. It is heartbreaking to see big groups of students leaving three-fourths the way through the concert, and I know that not all of you have scheduled Skype calls with your moms at that particular moment. First off, your assignment requires that you stay for the whole performance, so at least do it to honor your Academic Integrity Code. More importantly, there is nothing more insulting to a musician than huge chunks of the audience leaving during the middle of their performance. They have practiced for hours upon hours, and weeks upon weeks just for one night on stage performing for you. You are their reason to be there. UCA concerts are an hour and a half at the very longest. It is not difficult. Have some respect.
Classical performances are a unique experience that many people never have the chance to encounter. You might never attend something like it again, so appreciate the music performed for you. Just use common sense. Sit quietly, take notes and pay attention. Who knows? You might learn something.