7 rules of etiquette during a classical music concert

If you want your kids to have a habit of going to classical music concerts – start by going with them. As simple as that. But what if you’re not exactly familiar with specific convention and etiquette of classical concerts? What if you’re not so sure what it’s all about?

Basic rules of classical concerts etiquette

  1. Outfit matters

Your outfit should match the type of concert you’re going to. If it’s classical music, choose elegant clothes. That doesn’t necessarily mean a tuxedo and an evening gown, but an elegant jacket for a man, a shirt for a boy or a cocktail dress for a lady would be a good choice. If you like feeling smart from time to time, a concert would be a good occasion to look like a million bucks. But if you don’t feel comfortable wearing this style of clothing, just think that it could be worse – musicians on stage have to perform in tailcoats and long black dresses!

In my opinion outfit does matter. It’s not only a matter of how we’re supposed to act in certain circumstances. Formal, elegant style gives also a special meaning and some magical vibe to those unusual moments we spend in a philharmonic hall. Classical music concert is something very different from our ordinary life and so we should cherish it! Imagine a stay-at-home mom who suddenly gets rid of her everyday outfit and puts on a wonderful dress and she could tell from awestruck expressions on her loved ones’ faces that she looks nothing less than knock-out gorgeous. I would definitely go for it! 🙂

  1. Be a few minutes early

Arrive early and give yourself a few additional minutes before the concert. Time will pass quickly when you look for seats, buy the program, leave your coat in the cloakroom or go to the toilet. If you arrive late, you may not get in at all – so don’t risk it!


  1. Use a very smart feature in your phone…

…and turn it off. And I don’t mean put it on Silent or Vibrate mode! Turn the phone off completely – let yourself get away from the outside world just for those two hours or so. It really does change how you perceive music! Not mentioning how embarrassing it would be if your far from subtle ringtone went off during some sweet part of a symphony… Just imagine those angry looks!

I hope it is not that neccesary to bring up, but I have to mention it, just in case: if you decide not to turn your phone off, do not take pictures or record anything during the concert. It’s not very considerate, it disturbs other viewers and musicians. If you want a selfie with a soloist, I guess you’re very welcome to take it during the break.

How to behave during a classical music concert

  1. Don’t talk

Seriously. From the moment you hear the first beats to the point when the conductor finally lowers the baton (that’s the thin stick in his hand) you’re not supposed to talk, whisper, whistle, sing along, murmur or do anything of that kind. Just listen and enjoy the music.

  1. Don’t squirm in your seat

Don’t turn around, don’t tap your foot (no matter how catchy the music would be!), don’t stretch, don’t chew a gum, don’t look for anything in your purse, don’t play with any zippers, don’t do make-up (I’ve seen that!). Don’t get up from your seat during the whole music part. Philharmonic concerts usually consist of two parts, so soon enough you’ll have a break to stretch a little or go to the toilet. Moving around and squirming is considered quite ill-mannered and most importantly – it disturbs other viewers and musicians!


  1. Wait a bit with applause

Save all your admiration for the end of the piece. And I mean ‘piece’, not only its part. During classical music concerts you’ll often hear symphonies, solo concerts, suites – all those pieces consist of shorter parts. You’re not supposed to applause the musicians in between those parts – wait until the whole piece is over.

If you don’t want to be mistaken:

– at home before the concert learn a bit about the pieces you’re going to hear

– before the concert buy a program and read it – that’s why it’s good to arrive a few minutes earlier

– wait until the conductor gives a clear sign that the piece is over (usually by lowering arms and the baton or just turning around to the audience).

  1. Be smart

Use moments of applause to hide a cough, wipe your nose or find your glasses in the purse!

It’s not that complicated, isn’t it? It may seem a bit prim but there’s much charm in this atmosphere so different from our everyday chaos. If you have any further questions about classical concerts, just let me know in the comments!