Letter to the Editor: Distractions ruin performances
Do you recall the last time you went to a concert? It could have been a choir concert, a band concert, or a piano performance. During the performance, did you notice other people whispering, getting up to leave, or participating in some kind of distracting behavior during the performance? Were you participating in some kind of disrupting behavior?
As a musician, and on behalf of the many other musicians, I would like to acquaint you with some suggestions and reasons for appropriate behavior.
Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser with the National Association for Music Education said that "with the evolution of technology such as cell phones, hand held computers, etc., it shifts the way the audience reacts to the performance. These distractions can "contaminate" the concert and as a result, program coordinators, performers, and even audience members become frustrated."
These distractions are becoming more prevalent and consequently the MENC came up with a list of behavioral suggestions that one is recommended to follow. Some of these suggestions are to refrain from talking, turn off all cell phones and pagers, applaud at appropriate times, and only leave in between performances. Now these are suggestions rather than rules that have been made to allow everyone to have a pleasurable experience. There are times where these suggestions will not coincide with your present situation.
You may have a screaming child or you may be waiting for an urgent phone call, and in such cases you will need to leave in the middle of a performance. However, all that is asked of you, as an audience member, is to be considerate of the performers and other audience members.
There seems to be an unwritten rule for behaviors at different types of functions. For example, at a basketball game you would see others yelling and cheering for their team. This type of behavior is generally expected and has been known to actually help the athletes perform better. On the other hand, at a concert, you would observe a more calm and quiet atmosphere.
Elizabeth Lasko, also with MENC, said the main reason for this different atmosphere is that "the value of the concert rests upon people being able to hear the performance. If there is talking, cheering, or moving about, the music can't be heard." One goal of a musician is to entertain and allow the audience to have a memorable experience.
This can only be done with the cooperation of audience members. So, the next time you attend a function, try to remember these four suggestions so that you, the performers, and all others around you can have an unforgettable experience.