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Concert Etiquette

A Minute with Miles

Concert etiquette. It’s really just a matter of common sense and good manners. If you think you may be at risk of a coughing or sneezing fit, sit on the end of a row, not in the middle. If you’re bringing a child to the concert and the child tends to fidget, sit in the back, not the front. Don’t take pictures or make videos if you’ve been asked not to or if you may be blocking somebody else’s view, and don’t use a flash even if you haven’t been asked not to. 

But etiquette is a two-way street, and performers need to have good manners too, and they should always respect the audience, who after all, are the only reason the performers are there to begin with. Sometimes people simply have to cough. So what? Performers should ignore it. Either that, or never perform during the winter. And if people clap between movements, that means they liked what they heard, which is a good thing. The appropriate response from the stage is an appreciative smile, not a snooty remark or a withering glance.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.