Sharpen Your Pencils, Kids. It’s Time For A Quiz On Concert Etiquette!


Today’s music lesson involves concert etiquette. I have just attended my daughter’s Spring Choral Concert and I was appalled by the behavior of…..

…the parents!



Embarrassed, even.

I arrived about 10 minutes early. I silenced my cell phone. I read through the program. I scouted out my daughter. A group of high school students sat in front of me. They pulled out their cell phones and started sharing text messages and pictures with each other.

I anticipated a problem once the performance began so I found another seat.

I sat behind an audience member who is a principal at another school. His daughter was performing that evening. But not in the first group. So he proceeded to have a conversation with his guest the entire 4 songs. All four.

I moved again.

My last seat was in the back. Just as my daughter’s group started their first song a mother and daughter stood behind me. (I was seated in the last row) They proceeded to discuss who was wearing what, who was sitting with whom,  in not so very hushed tones. During the song. All during the song. I kept turning around, trying to get their attention so that I could ask them to take their conversation outside.

My neck is sore this morning.

The following quiz is suggested by The National Association for Music Education to hand out to concert goers as a polite reminder. I’ve adjusted the quiz so that all of the correct answers are all the same letter. See if you can guess know the correct answers. My extraneous additions (things that I actually witnessed last night) are in italics.

1. You should enter the auditorium: a) quietly b) as loudly as possible c) walking backwards shakin’ your groove thang!

2. It is always a good idea to arrive: a) a little bit early b) just as the performance is beginning c) only in time to catch your child’s performance and then dash out as soon as they finish

3. If you must arrive late, it is best to enter: a) between musical selections b) whenever you arrive c) during your child’s performance, making sure they see you by waving as you walk in

4. During the concert, it is a good idea to: a) sit quietly and listen – what a novel idea! b) discuss the performance c) eat dinner

5. For mobile phone usage during a performance it is best to: a) turn the phone off, or better yet, leave it in the car b) answer your phone quickly and speak quietly c)  leave the room to use the phone (hello, most important doctor, dressed in scrubs, talkin’ to your colleague!)

6. Applause should be given when: a) the performance is completed and the conductor faces the audience b) your child has completed his or her part c) any time something is done well like at a Bon Jovi concert.

7. After the performance is over: a) sit and wait until all the children have cleared the stage b) you should leave your seat and rush up to the stage to find your child c) exclaim loudly how tired you are and bored. I actually witnessed this. From a dad. Pathetic.

8. On the way home it’s a good idea to: a) offer your praise b) critique the performance c) offer your sympathy

How’d you score? I honestly thought all of correct answers to these questions were common sense. Or at least something everyone learns in grammar school.

Apparently, I’m wrong.



Filed under Be-Causes, Lessons Learned, Music

9 responses to “Sharpen Your Pencils, Kids. It’s Time For A Quiz On Concert Etiquette!

  1. Excellent, excellent! Yes, run up and get your kid and leave. Who CARES what the other children are doing!

    This made me wince to picture the concert. I feel your pain. If I get aggravated at the texters and talkers in movies, who knows what I’d do to the rude parents if my grandchildren were performing?!!!

  2. unabridgedgirl

    Ew. That is terrible. It is bad enough when a group of teens are the ones making a concert an unpleasant experience, but when adults act that way? So pathetic.

  3. Gabe had his talent show the other night and I too was appalled at everyone’s lack of respect for the performers. I sat next to a drunk Dad who would not.shut.up!!!

  4. I scored well 🙂 You should have sat next to me!
    I am always at amazed at adult behavior at children’s school programs and worse, children’s sporting events (ugh).

  5. Are you kidding me? I’m new to the parenting thing and haven’t had any performances or sporting events yet, and cannot believe that people behave this way. I’m sorry…are you kidding? Arrive late? Be loud? Say you’re bored? wtf? I’m so angry for the kids.
    Teachers need to hand out a list of rules before the event, I guess. Great. They get to be the bad guys again…

  6. Heather

    I am a teacher…we have a symphony performance coming to our school this week and I am taking it upon myself to provide the staff with a list of DO’s (you know we teachers can’t be negative and have a list of DON’TS) of concert etiquette. Hopefully this performance will be better than the last. Interestingly enough in my research, I found a list of DON’Ts for parents and it was suggested to be printed on the reverse side of the program. I am thinking about that for my April 20th choir concert. The list was presented with a humourous touch. It isn’t common sense any more quite frankly. Sad but true.

    • Sandy

      I am a choir/elementary band teacher and my last concert was completely out of control with bad parent behavior, that even the students said something after the concert! If you could email me a list that you have that would be very helpful!

  7. Nancye

    As an elementary music educator, I witness these behaviors first-hand at almost every performance. I work so hard to teach the students appropriate behavior, but I never thought I would have to work even harder to teach the PARENTS how to act. The problem is that in our society today, music is just background noise — an accompaniment to our daily lives that we are used to ignoring or working around. Attending live formal performances is not the norm in our culture today, and so our parents (and their children) don’t have a clue about just LISTENING, without doing something else at the same time.

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