City Desk

How to Be a Good Audience Member

On Friday I went to see Vladimir Ashkenazy conduct the National Symphony Orchestra through Sibelius’ Symphony No.1, Oceanides, and Symphony No. 7. The music was beautiful, and Ashkenazy was adorable. To top the night off, a woman sat behind me and taught me a lot about how to behave at the symphony. Here’s what I learned:

Know What You’re Seeing. When you first sit down and ask your husband, “Now what are we seeing tonight?” it makes you sound like a snob. This isn’t an Edith Wharton novel. You don’t need to go to the symphony just to be seen. Go because you like music.
Don’t Call People Stupid. When people clap at inappropriate moments, don’t cry out, “Stupid people! What stupid people! Stupid! Stupid!”
Plan Ahead. Need your glasses? Need a tissue? Need another tissue? Decide you don’t need your glasses? It’s really best just to dump your purse out on your lap before the performance begins. Don’t zip, unzip, zip, unzip, zip your purse. It’s really just a waste of time.
Request an Aisle Seat. This way you don’t have to loudly declare at intermission, “These seats are horrible! I will never sit here again! Really, with how often we come it’s ridiculous they don’t give us aisle seats! Ridiculous!” Bonus: You can put your feet in the aisle so you don’t kick the seat in front of you every couple minutes.
Use Lotion. If you keep your skin moist, you don’t have to spend long periods of time scratching your knuckles.
Don’t Take Your Boredom Out on the Program. It’s there to help you. Don’t rip through the pages like there’s money hidden in them. Be gentle. Some say it’s even possible to turn a page soundlessly.

Thank you, fellow audience member. You have taught me well.

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