Live performances are supposed to be enjoyable experiences for both performers and the audience. However, an inappropriate conduct especially from the audience can be demoralizing for performers (and the teacher in charge). For this reason, certain behaviors (etiquette) are expected in live concerts. It is, therefore, crucial for students to not only learn etiquette or the appropriate way to conduct themselves at a live performance, but also understand why it is important. It is important to expose students to the atmosphere of a live performances will allow them experience different music styles and gain a better understanding of etiquette in live performance. The experience on the audience in professional concerts may even vary with the genre of music. The question remains whether students have the necessary knowledge on the appropriate conduct at live concerts. Learning about these things at the beginning band phase can be key components that significantly shape the demeanor of music students.
Various literatures have explored the issue of concert etiquette. According to Blanchard and Acree (2009), the conduct of concert goers is usually informed by the culture of the venue and the music they hear. Students are not exempt. This implies that concert behavior is somewhat a cultural issue. For example, live performances of rock music would have different attitudes and style from classical music and young concert attenders of rock may feel a bit restricted and somewhat bored in a classical music environment. These are the things that make different music genres unique (Blanchard and Acree, 2009). However, it is still possible to teach music students and audiences about etiquette from any level just as it applies to classrooms. Mark, & Gary (2007) find that music education has changed over the years and in the same way, various genres of music have evolved from different cultures even in the present-day movements such as pop culture. This means that the views of the society are also overarching factors. According to Rajan (2016), teaching concert etiquette needs to be part of music curriculum and be integrated in lesson planning because it models positive behaviors.
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Essentially, music is critical in the formation of individual and group identity (conformity), representing status and social values . In Brophy’s (2010) view, etiquette is based on behavior and music educators need to watch out of two behaviors when assessing student learning. The first behavior is overt. Overt behavior is that which can be observed such as moving, sitting position, clapping (to show appreciation), among others. These behaviors are easy to assess and it provides an opportunity for students to learn and understand the right behavior for different types of performances ( Brophy, 2010 ). According to Nicolucci (2010) , while teaching the audience, it is important to remind them that etiquette is about respecting the effort of the performers. According to ( Brophy, 2010 ), it is also important to make the experiences real for the music students by exposing them to live performances, which makes the whole process authentic. In this regard, educators may take advantage of music groups performing in schools or music trips where the students engage with performers. In fact, Rajan (2016) points out that practicing audience response with in-school music productions is advisable before exposing students to professional performances. The reason for this is that school-based performances are somewhat informal and it is where students can learn to support, respect, and encourage their peers in a friendly setting. Nicolucci (2010) argue that live music concerts are the public form of assessment of music learning and teaching.
Students have different experiences attending live music concerts. According to Nicolucci (2010), the audience’s experience is in the moment and it is in this moment that they form impressions and generalization, which can affect behavior. In the same way, there are certain key areas that audiences look for in a performance and in any case the performance falls short of the expectations, audiences have the right to feel uninterested and impatient hence certain inappropriate behavior. However, performers also have certain expectations of the audience. As Mark, & Gary (2007) note that music education has changed considerable over the years, Rajan (2016) also observe that the rules of etiquette are slowly shifting from the basic clapping and listening to being engaged (appropriate responses, feedback and discussions). Some performance genres demand active audience response while others require passive response. Ringing phones, texting (or being occupied in any other way by phones) and excessive perfume among other issues are the common unbecoming behaviors in young concert attenders in the contemporary era. Other attenders shout, boo/heckle down performers, and start leaving before the performance ends, or make unnecessary noise. In fact, live performances are not new to students as music concerts usually take place in various settings where they may pick inappropriate behaviors from the crowds, which also are clueless about etiquette. This is why educators need to come up with effective strategies when teaching etiquette in the classroom (Blanchard and Acree, 2009).
In the assessment of student learning in music and etiquette, asking for a critique of a live performance may be an effective way for teachers to gauge student engagement, attitude towards the performers, listening, and attentiveness through the process. This is why exposure to different types of music is important. For example, clapping for a jazz band in the course of the song may be appropriate while doing so in a soloist or choir may not because the audience may miss the words in the song. Yet, teaching music students may be also an effective way of informing other people such as parents because the student’s model etiquette learned from school (Brophy, 2010 ). In school performances, having students (who are not participating in the performance) sit in the audience may be a good way to model good behavior to the others. As Brophy (2010) notes, teaching etiquette is promoting the appreciation of music as an art and live performances are the best places to exercise this conduct. According to Rajan (2016), music educators are also changing considerably from the conventional instruction to modelling behavior by being good members of the audience when attending live performance. The most important thing Rajan (2016) notes is the aspect of exposing students to age-appropriate live concerts where they can experience, respond, and appreciate the performance.
Music education is somewhat dynamic (Mark, & Gary (2007). Students nowadays are more and more exposed to live music performances whether informal or professional, but it seems they are not adequately informed on the appropriate conduct in such settings. According to Rajan (2016), studies have perhaps focused more on the experience of the performer when analyzing performance with aspects such as preparation, presentation, body language, and rehearsing being referred to when the performance turns out in a particular way. However, performers also have their expectations regarding the audience. For music students, it is critical to learn about etiquette from both perspectives. While concert behavior may be determined by culture, music genre, and the social values attached to the same, students of any level can be taught on the fundamental etiquette in live performances. Therefore, teachers have an even bigger responsibility in not only teaching etiquette, but also providing opportunities for authentic experiences and modelling good behavior.
Blanchard, B & Acree, C. (2009). M aking Music and Having a Blast! A Guide for All Music Students. Indiana University Press. Indianapolis
Mark, M.L. & Gary, C.L. (2007). A history of American music education. 3rd edition , p436-461
Nicolucci, S. (2010). Cultivating audiences taming, teaching, transforming. Music Educators Journal, 97(1), 37-43
Rajan, R.S. (2016). Front row seats: preparing young audiences for live performances. Music Educators Journal, 103(1), 49-54
Timothy S. Brophy (2010). The Practice of Assessment in Music Education: Frameworks, Models, and Designs . Chicago: GIA Publications