5 Tips for Music Etiquette Success

by Alison Evans

Date Posted: September 11, 2018

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Photo by Ivan Zhukevi

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the music world, especially for those newer to the game. In this whirlwind, sometimes we forget the simplest things, especially concerning etiquette. Here is a list of things to remember while preparing for an upcoming gig:

1. Be On-Time! 

The phrase “better late than never!” doesn’t apply in these situations. Excluding circumstances such as a flat tire, broken down car, bridge collapse, or something along those lines, being late is inexcusable. All it takes is one time or one person to remember that one time you were late, which could end up costing you gigs in the future. Be sure to double, triple, even quadruple check the dates and times that you need to be present – then make sure you get there early enough to allow for any unforeseen circumstances. If you do find yourself stuck in traffic because Godzilla decided to visit town, make sure you tell whomever you need to that you will be late. 

2. Dress for Success

While you’re double checking the schedule for the gig, don’t forget to confirm the dress code as well. It would be embarrassing to show up in business casual while everyone else is in concert black. That being said, once you know the dress code – follow it! If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution and always dress more conservatively than stated. A lot of performances nowadays are livestreamed online, meaning you should consider potential camera angles from all around you. Most dress codes require black socks and black shoes – a friend once recommended keeping a pair of black socks in your case (space permitting) for that one day you forget to pack some! As for perfumes and colognes, it’s better if you opt out just in case someone is allergic to them.

3. Warm-Up

Everybody has their superstitious warm-up routine that gets them in the mindset for the gig; don’t push your routine on the rest of the group. What I mean is, don’t be obnoxious with your warm-up. Nobody wants to hear what solos you have memorized or are currently working on. Especially don’t play the music that you’re about to play in the concert – it might make the audience think that you still don’t know your part…minutes beforehand. Stay quiet during your warm-up so that the rest of the group can also warm-up and get ready. 

4. It's Showtime!

When you’re onstage it’s easy to get lost in the music, but don’t get so lost that you forget that you’re up in front of an audience! It’s a given that you shouldn’t talk during a performance, unless an extreme circumstance calls for it. This goes for singing along with the music, mouthing your measures of rest, and even yawning! With the ability to livestream concerts, you wouldn’t want to steal the show by yawning into the camera, or be caught making an unprofessional face during your tacet movement.

Make sure that the things you don’t need for your gig are stowed away offstage in your case, bag, or left in your car. This means your keys, phone (which should be turned OFF), pencils, etc. that could potentially fall out of your pocket and cause a disturbance in the performance. 

5. Attitude

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “your reputation precedes you.” This is especially true in the music world where a lot of your gigs are based on connections, relationships, and recommendations. After a gig, try to keep your opinions to yourself as you never know who might be listening. If you didn’t think that something went well during the performance; say a solo, or there was a conducting error, keep it to yourself until you’re out of the concert hall and even then, make sure you’re not around anyone who might overhear you and take offense. Don’t forget to thank those involved in getting you this gig; send an email or even a handwritten card to show your appreciation. 

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