- Arrival at the concert hall
It is very important to arrive to the concert hall about 10-15 minutes early. You do not want to distract the orchestra or the audience by coming into the auditorium late.
- The orchestra is warming up
The stage is empty. One by one, the musicians enter the stage, take their seats and begin warming up on their instruments. You will hear many different sounds being played at the same time.
- Find your seat and read the program book
Now is the perfect time for you to find your seat quietly. You do not want to interrupt the players as they are warming up. The lights are still on in the auditorium so you have plenty of light to read your program book. There is information about the musicians, conductor, the orchestra and pieces of music that they will be performing.
- The concertmaster
The lights in the auditorium will begin to dim. All but one of the musicians will be on the stage and in their seats. The musicians will get quiet as the concertmaster enters the stage. The audience claps as the concertmaster enters and takes a bow. The concertmaster looks at the oboe player and nods for the oboe to play an A. This is a “tuning note” for the orchestra to prepare for their performance. First, the woodwind and brass players listen to this note and then they play their instruments and match that pitch. They adjust their instruments until they are all in tune. Then, the oboe plays another A for the strings to tune. Each of the strings on the stringed instruments has to be tuned. When all of the instruments are all finished tuning, the concert master takes his/her seat (the first chair in the first violin section) and the orchestra sits quietly.
- The conductor enters
The conductor enters the stage. The audience claps as the conductor enters the stage and acknowledges the audience. The orchestra will then rise and acknowledge the applause of the audience.
- The music is about to begin
Sometimes the conductor or an announcer will introduce the orchestra and the first piece that is about to be performed. Then the condustor will face the orchestra and raise his/her arms. The music begins and you hear many beautiful sounds, melodies, harmonies and rhythms. Try not to wiggle and distract others around you. Making noises, talking and moving around will distract the audience around you and will distract the musicians on the stage. The orchestra practiced many hours to make the beautiful music that you hear. Show them your respect by listening.
- Look around
Look around the stage and see how many of the instruments you can identify. Use the Orchestra Seating Chart to help. Look for instruments that are playing solos. Watch the strings move their bows in unison. Look at how the conductor uses his/her arms to tell the musicians when to start and stop, how slow and fast and how loud and soft to play.
- It is time to clap
You will know it is time to clap when the conductor’s arms drop and the he/she turns and faces the audience. Some songs have more than one movement (like chapters in a book). You should wait until all of the movements are complete and the conductor turns to face the audience before clapping.
- The last song is complete
The audience is clapping. The concert has concluded. The conductor leaves the stage. The applause continues because the audience really enjoyed the concert. The conductor returns to the stage to acknowledge the applause, and the orchestra rises with smiles to acknowledge the applause of the audience.
- The lights come back on
Now that the lights have come back on, the audience is free to leave the auditorium. Be sure to take your program book with you to share with your friends, family and teachers. Talk to others about what you saw and heard at the orchestra. If you have any questions, ask your parents, teachers or us. Tell us what you thought of the concert. Send us your pictures and letters!