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Concert Etiquette

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Folkie 19 Nov 08 - 08:23 AM
Manitas_at_home 19 Nov 08 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,maple_leaf_boy 19 Nov 08 - 10:14 AM
Murray MacLeod 19 Nov 08 - 10:33 AM
The Villan 19 Nov 08 - 10:37 AM
BillE 19 Nov 08 - 10:38 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 19 Nov 08 - 10:39 AM
Sleepy Rosie 19 Nov 08 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,Betsy at Work 19 Nov 08 - 11:03 AM
Marje 19 Nov 08 - 11:41 AM
Nigel Parsons 19 Nov 08 - 11:55 AM
Spleen Cringe 19 Nov 08 - 12:10 PM
George Papavgeris 19 Nov 08 - 12:20 PM
Spleen Cringe 19 Nov 08 - 01:31 PM
bubblyrat 19 Nov 08 - 01:36 PM
The Villan 19 Nov 08 - 03:51 PM
Don Firth 19 Nov 08 - 04:33 PM
Deckman 19 Nov 08 - 06:21 PM
Richard Bridge 19 Nov 08 - 07:06 PM
Barry Finn 20 Nov 08 - 01:01 AM
Spleen Cringe 20 Nov 08 - 04:02 AM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Nov 08 - 09:11 AM
Richard Bridge 20 Nov 08 - 09:22 AM
Folkiedave 20 Nov 08 - 09:39 AM
Leadfingers 20 Nov 08 - 10:29 AM
Bill D 20 Nov 08 - 10:59 AM
Tyke 20 Nov 08 - 07:31 PM
ChillToad 06 Aug 09 - 01:24 PM
SharonA 06 Aug 09 - 02:28 PM
Elmore 06 Aug 09 - 03:20 PM
John P 06 Aug 09 - 03:50 PM
Maryrrf 06 Aug 09 - 04:03 PM
Taconicus 06 Aug 09 - 04:08 PM
Richard Bridge 06 Aug 09 - 04:22 PM
GUEST,mg 06 Aug 09 - 04:53 PM
Don Firth 06 Aug 09 - 07:37 PM
Joe Nicholson 06 Aug 09 - 07:39 PM
Deckman 07 Aug 09 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,Neovo 07 Aug 09 - 08:26 AM
GUEST,Russ 07 Aug 09 - 08:31 AM
Phil Edwards 07 Aug 09 - 08:44 AM
foggers 07 Aug 09 - 08:58 AM
Folkiedave 07 Aug 09 - 11:25 AM
John P 07 Aug 09 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,mg 07 Aug 09 - 05:35 PM
Waddon Pete 07 Aug 09 - 05:45 PM
John P 07 Aug 09 - 06:10 PM
Maryrrf 07 Aug 09 - 08:47 PM
harpmolly 07 Aug 09 - 11:44 PM
Deckman 07 Aug 09 - 11:56 PM
Maryrrf 08 Aug 09 - 03:44 PM
Leadfingers 08 Aug 09 - 04:06 PM
harpmolly 08 Aug 09 - 04:24 PM
Don Firth 08 Aug 09 - 04:54 PM
harpmolly 08 Aug 09 - 05:01 PM
mg 08 Aug 09 - 05:02 PM
Leadfingers 08 Aug 09 - 05:12 PM
Don Firth 08 Aug 09 - 05:14 PM
Amergin 08 Aug 09 - 06:20 PM
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Valmai Goodyear 11 Aug 09 - 11:19 AM
Will Fly 11 Aug 09 - 11:57 AM
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Subject: Concert Etiquette
From: Folkie
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 08:23 AM

I went to a concert in a village hall yesterday evening to see the Mellstock Band. There was a group of about 10 of us who regularly go to folk events sitting together and we were joining in at appropriate times but the rest of the audience did not join in. After a while, the lady sitting next to me said "Please would you NOT sing". I said "I'm very sorry". She said "I paid to listen to the band not to listen to YOU sing". I felt rather upset because I had only been singing quietly, not with gusto as I would at Whittlebury. I kept quiet during the rest of the concert. Was that the right thing to do or should I have continued singing regardless?


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 08:28 AM

If you had carried on it would have caused a bigger argument. My take on concerts is that you only join in when invited.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: GUEST,maple_leaf_boy
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 10:14 AM

I would have moved to a different seat, if it was possible.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 10:33 AM

the only "appropriate time" to join in is when the performer specifically invites invites participation.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: The Villan
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 10:37 AM

Agree with MM

Its not a singaround and people have paid good money to listen to the performer. If the performer asks you to join in with the choruses, then fair play.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: BillE
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 10:38 AM

This is such a sad reflection on modern concert audiences. Been there and got the T-shirt several times. A couple of years ago the Waterson (Family / Carthy - can't remember what configuration) came to the Early Music Centre in York. Come chorus song time Norma says "Please join in". Some 8 - 10 of us - old buddies from the Lowther Hotel Folk Club 30 years ago - did just that. You could cut the sneering stares from the very silent majority with a knife! Encouraged by Norma's arm waving we carried on.

As recently as last Sunday at a Kate Rusby concert in York the audience were invited to join in many of the songs / choruses. Very few did so.

Although folk music is a participative thing, there is sometimes a wrong time to join in audibly. But if we start to say never join in, and widen the distance between singer and audience, then IMHO we have lost it. Kate and Norma instinctively seem to recognise this. But perhaps they are singers first, performers second.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 10:39 AM

You were right to take the line of least resistance and not cause a confrontation - but the woman was rude to continue complaining at you after you'd already apologised. She's obviously not a folkie, so I suppose the commonplace practice of the audience joining in is unfamiliar to her.

It might have been an idea to move to another seat IF a decent one was available (which would send a message as well) but in saying Sorry and then keeping quiet you did the best thing under the circumstances. Anything else could have marred the concert because it would risk becoming aggressive. It takes all kinds, I suppose. Maybe she'll discover that she likes this sort of music well enough to want to join in herself...


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 10:40 AM

Locals paying for their tickets for a show at the *village hall*, may well not be familiar with accepted norms at a *folk club*.
The lady who complained would no doubt be similarly annoyed by someone next to her speaking along with the words to the local Am-Dram production of "The Importance of Being Earnest" or singing along to the local Operatic Societies production of "My Fair Lady", or similar stuff. Panto excepted of course. I think when in doubt concerning what it's aproppriate or not to do in any social or group circumstance, taking note of the unspoken consensus of behaviour, has got to be the most useful guideline. When in Rome and all that.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: GUEST,Betsy at Work
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 11:03 AM

Sleeping Rosie - I can't fault your comments.
I love chorus singing - they ( choruses ) brought me to and kept me going to Folk clubs - but as you so eloquently said, "When in Rome ... "
What a pity I do like a good chorus.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Marje
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 11:41 AM

This has raised an interesting point - perhaps any concert performers reading this will take note, and ask the audience to join in if that's what they want. I suppose otherwise people have to be prepared not to join in, which is, I agree, a bit of a shame, but it's the way things are going. There was a time when even at huge concerts, groups like The Spinners would actively encourage or even demand audience participation.

I don't think you'd get that reaction at a festival, would you? I saw the Young Coppers at Dartmoor Festival and people were joining in then - the group didn't suggest it, but then they said how much they enjoyed it when it happened. I caught the eye of the girl singer, Lucy, at one point and she looked genuinely moved to see us all singing along. I think they hadn't expected that people so far from their home ground would know the songs so well.

But nowadays concerts (away from festivals) attract a whole cohort of people who wouldn't dream of going to a club or a festival, and are not familiar with the idea of joining in. Whatever their reasons, I suppose they have a right to ask to listen to the performer without a surround-sound singalong taking place, but I feel that's their loss.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 11:55 AM

And a Les Barker 'Concert' wouldn't be the same if people didn't join in (or even Barrack!)


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 12:10 PM

Quote: "But nowadays concerts (away from festivals) attract a whole cohort of people who wouldn't dream of going to a club or a festival, and are not familiar with the idea of joining in"...

Or conversely, specifically go to concerts rather than clubs because they are listeners not participators and are actually consciously trying to avoid the joiners inners!

Look, you lot (the folk club folkies) have got your extensive network of venues where you set the rules. There are many of us who like folk music who don't tend to go to folk clubs because its not our scene, or who go to folk clubs for one sort of experience and concerts for another.

What I know is that if I pay a tenner or more to see an artist, I don't want someone sat next to me belting it out: I didn't come to hear them or pay to hear them! Wanting to get what I paid for does not mean I'm missing out on something - or should I say it doesn't mean I'm missing out on something I want.

What I suspect the problem is is that some folk club folkies think they have special privileges and sole ownership of folk music in all contexts. This means they think their rules of etiquette should apply to non folk club venues, and the rest of us, who haven't paid our dues at the local folk club for 40 years should shut up and put up.

I therefore salute the opening poster for not doing this. Just as I wouldn't take my hammer and chisel to a sculpture exhibition and try to "improve" the exhibits... Conversely, I may take them along to a sculpture workshop or club...


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 12:20 PM

Good points there Spleen Cringe. You sometimes can see such attitudes (of "ownership" of folk music) in the occasional post in some thread or other. We would all do well to be respectful of other's wishes, needs and interests if we want to attract them to (or not repel them from) the music we love.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 01:31 PM

Thank you George. And thank you for some wonderful songs.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: bubblyrat
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 01:36 PM

Yes,it's fine if the performers have ASKED for it,but otherwise not really.In my experience,most artists will say something like "please feel free to join in on this one if you like", or " I /we could do with some help in the chorus " , or whatever.What I hate is when a bunch of prats get up and start "dancing" in front of the stage and block one's view.-----And why oh why do some people have to yell and shriek and whoop at the end of each number ??It's supposed to be a concert,not a f----king Comanche war-dance!Gives me the shits..


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: The Villan
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 03:51 PM

>>shriek and whoop at the end of each number ??It's supposed to be a concert,not a f----king Comanche war-dance!Gives me the shits.. <<
Better than doing it during the song.

Basically, if you go to a concert event at a Village Hall, the organisers should treat it like a theatre. You won't get on the rural arts scheme unless you don't act like a theatre.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 04:33 PM

I am of the opinion that, folk concert or not, audience members should not join in unless the performer specifically asks them to.

One thing that really gets me grinding my teeth is when a particular song has a strong beat and some audience members feel impelled to start rhythmically clapping.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Deckman
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 06:21 PM

I'm going to jump in here, right after friend Don, with a comment. I agree with others that the audience, in public concert, should NOT join in on the singing unless the performers invite them to do so. Performers put hours and hours of practice and planning into their performances. Sometimes songs change over the years ... new aspects arrive ... and audiences' chorus singing can spoil that.

Leave it to the performers to entertain you ... NOT the other way around. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 07:06 PM

Roman Catholicism or Weslyanism?

In this context I'm a Weslyan.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Barry Finn
Date: 20 Nov 08 - 01:01 AM

A well seasonded performer I know hates in when he hears the crowd at a concert joing in, me I'm tickled to death when they join in, we nearly twist arms for them to sing along & are as pleased as can be when they do

But I can't dispute that if you're not asked then don't join in

Barry


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 20 Nov 08 - 04:02 AM

"In this context I'm a Wesleyan."

What? Grim little chapels and no booze?


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Nov 08 - 09:11 AM

I agree that the audience should join in when asked.

Here are other forms of behavior that I object to:

People clapping for short solos at the ballet. Bad for the orchestra. Besides, those who start dancing next deserve our attention.

People clapping for solos at ragtime concerts. Somebody doing a section alone is just not that big a deal. Besides, it masks the next person's entrance.

People who want everybody to know how knowledgeable they are, so they start applauding one nanosecond after the last note of a piece, before the musician has let it come to an end.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Nov 08 - 09:22 AM

No, no priests interposed between me and my interpretation of the scriptures.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Folkiedave
Date: 20 Nov 08 - 09:39 AM

And on the latest Lau Live record - applauding as Hiba starts.....


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 Nov 08 - 10:29 AM

Personally , I would never dream of joining in a Chorus with Coote Boyes and Simpson ,as their harmonies dont need anything I can do !!
But an 'Ordinary' chorus DOES need participation !


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Nov 08 - 10:59 AM

I seem to remember Jean Redpath saying something like:

"If ye don't wish to sing, I can't force ye...and if y've a mind TO sing, I canna stop ye...so do as ye please."


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Tyke
Date: 20 Nov 08 - 07:31 PM

I read it in a Newspaper were at a George Formby Convention the Audience were searched to stop them from smuggling Ukuleles in to the concerts.

Oh yes they did!


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: ChillToad
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 01:24 PM

As a concert goer I only join in when invited.
As a singer at the 'Irish session' in our local pub, usually unaccompanied, I think its down to me. Sometimes the joining in puts me off: as the beer goes down around me so does the tempo, and I'm trying to move on to the next verse while the audience is still on the last line of the chorus. Still, everyone seems to have a good time and in that context its fine. I go elsewhere for a more 'respectful' audience.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: SharonA
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 02:28 PM

Two days ago, I presided over a board meeting of our local folk song society, discussing this very subject. It has become quite an issue at our showcase concerts and circle presentations. Until three or four years ago, the society's policy was "no singing by the audience unless requested by the performer", whether the "performer" was "on stage" at the front of the room or sitting and taking his turn to sing in a circle format. This prohibition included humming, even under one's breath. All singing was to be done during the jam-session period of the society's meetings, which occurs after the formal presentation (showcase/circle) period.

Some society members couldn't keep themselves from singing or humming; others (mainly newcomers) didn't understand the policy since singing is allowed at meetings of other local clubs; still others were offended at the idea of being silenced. So the society took the if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em view, and changed its policy to "singing along is allowed unless the performer requests you NOT to sing".

Well, THAT doesn't seem to be working out too well, either. Increasingly, performers are drowned out by the audience, and the audience often sings a familiar song the way they think it should go, which is not necessarily the way that the performer is interpreting it. One board member in particular is incensed about the situation, and at the board meeting she made some points with which the rest of us had to agree: that singing along too exuberantly is unfair and rude to the performer who has selected (and perhaps just learned) a song to present at the meeting; that it's unfair and rude to the listener who wants to hear the performer's take on a given song; that some performers may consider it too rude to tell the audience not to sing along (due to peer pressure and all that). So the decision has been made to revert to our old policy of "no singing along unless requested".

Ah, but how to enforce the new/renewed rule? How to put folks back down on the farm now that they've seen (or sung) Parree? According to the board, the onus is now on me, as current President of the society, to:
-- Write up an article for the newsletter detailing the board's policy revision and the reasons for it (without sounding dictatorial);
-- Write a short reminder of this decision, to be placed in the newsletter before every meeting;
-- Open each meeting with a reminder not to sing along (along with the reminders to turn off cell phones, to leave and enter the room quietly, to refrain from chatting during a song, etc.);
-- Re-announce the no-sing reminder when latecomers wander in;
-- Interrupt the meeting's program if singalongs occur unbidden, and say "naughty members, you mustn't do that" (but not in the middle of a song) without alienating the "offenders" or causing them to drop out of the society in a huff.

*groan* Can't wait to see how THIS is going to go over with the membership.

It was suggested at the board meeting that I fashion a sign that I could hold up if singing occurs; the sign would say "Shhh!" I sincerely hope it won't come to that.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Elmore
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 03:20 PM

As a long time member of the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston, I don't recall this ever being a problem. Pete Seeger did a concert for us and recorded it as an example of how people should sing along.When I moved to New Hampshire I was amazed to find that artists like Bill Staines, John Mccutcheon and Tom Paxton had to beg the audience to sing. At Old Songs this year, some poor, tone deaf woman told me I had a beautiful voice. Either she or I had had too many beers. I would never knowingly sing loud enough to bother anybody.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: John P
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 03:50 PM

As a performer, I'm always put off when people start singing along uninvited. Or clapping!! If I'm playing a concert, I want to present the music in my own way. Some songs are better with audience participation and some aren't.

As an audience member, I REALLY don't want to hear anyone singing except the person I came to hear, again, unless the performer asks the audience to join in. I've always thought that uninvited singing is the height of insensitive egotism. If you want a participatory experience, go where that is offered, or make your own.

It may be worse at rock concerts than at folk concerts. I remember seeing Jethro Tull a few years back and trying to hear Ian Anderson, who has one of my favorite voices. I had to ask, multiple times, for the donkey seated behind me to stop braying along.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Maryrrf
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:03 PM

Hmm Sharon, I must say I don't envy your position.

I would tend to agree with the "Only sing along if invited group." Especially if the audience drowns out the performer in some cases - that's a problem. I've also seen instances such as you describe where the performer is trying to do a version other than the usual one and is consistently thrown off by the audience who's singing it like its "supposed to be" sung, as a matter of fact that's happened to me. I tend to only join in on choruses if invited and if they really are singable - like sea shanty type choruses. Otherwise I prefer to just listen closely to the singer's take on the song, without joining in. I find it excruciating when the performer insists repeatedly that the audience join in, to the point of treating them like kindergarteners. As in "Let's try that again, I couldnt' hear you...".   A simple invitation to join in should be enough, and if the audience doesn't want to then so be it. In the case of your club it sounds like you have some very enthusiastic singers!

In your case you'll have to be extremely diplomatic to avoid upsetting either group - the joiners in and the non joiners. Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Taconicus
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:08 PM

There are different levels of sensitivity and courtesy. I stopped going to rock concerts for several years after an incident in 1972 at an outdoor concert at Randall's Island in New York. My subsequent tip for being courteous at concerts is, "when you feel the need to relieve yourself, no matter how stoned out of your gourd you are please try to get up and make your way to the nearest port-a-potty rather than just opening up your trousers and letting fly onto the back of the guy in front of you." ;-)

In comparison, I don't think you need feel bad; singing along is common and more often the rule than the exception, unless it's hard to hear the entertainer,but it varies with the type of concert and the venue (and perhaps, how badly the audience member is singing). It was courteous of you to stop singing when you were asked, and rather discourteous of the other person to gratuitously add the "I didn't pay to hear you sing" comment.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:22 PM

I'm sure that in folk music payment is not the key.

On the rare occasions that I am a "leader" in anything, I will point out the key in case anyone wants to join in, and warn if I am about to do anything that differs from custom or conventional practice - so my version of "Blackleg Miner" I point out that I use an unusual bridge (I once nearly had to stuff an insensitive fiddle player's fiddle somewhere the tuning pegs would have been an impediment before she understood) and I point out that if (as I do) you play "Famous flower of Serving Men" (in abbreviated form) the count is

ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR and ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR
AND one AND two AND three AND four AND one AND two AND three AND four and


ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR (and so on)


Likewise I do some shanties in off-timings - and crap as I am and unfitted as I am to lead other musicians or singers - I will TELL people if I want something different from normal joining in - and also EXPLAIN so they don't think I am being a prima donna (or uomo)


In general the synergy is better than the solo.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:53 PM

I think people and performers (who can be one and the same) are of two different camps. I am of the sing unless they tell you not camp and would go to song circles and camps and concerts of that persuasion. There are frankly few people I want to hear solo but that is my preference. So why not just have whoever is the leader of the event do it her way, whichever, and others will say when Susan is the leader we can all join in and she is a regular the first weekend of the month and Joe wants us not to sing along and that is the second weekend etc. And if you have a circle where you introduce poeple and you are the leader, just save them from having to announce their preferences by just telling you ahead of time and you can say here is Juan from Calixo and he invites you to all sing along. Here is Paddy from Cork and he wants you not to sing along.

It is preference only. Some people like it one way and others another and just find a way to inform them of the preferences, preferably in advance, by writing it on your posters or on your website or whatever and then make announcements if it is a concert.

But I for one, aprticulary in somethin like a song circle or pub settng, do not buy the fact that I am supposed to listen adoringly just because someone has practiced. If the person wants that, and I am informed, I probably won't bother, but I could possibly. So just make preferences known in advance, and don't start with the assumptio hat others with different cultures etc. are wrong and you are right. If you like it one way, seek out those experiences, and vise versa. mg


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 07:37 PM

Pete Seeger wants people to sing along. That's very much his thing, and he is a master at getting a whole audience sounding like a trained choir. It's an exhileration experience, and it's a lot of fun. Nobody does it better than Pete.

But—I also remember taking in a Peter Paul and Mary concert, in which Peter Yarrow would sometimes suggest that people could join in on a particular song if they wished. However, they did some songs with a very tight arrangement, or a version that was somewhat different from the one popularly extant, and before they began, Peter would say something like, "Now this may sound familiar to you and you may feel impelled to sing along. But—please don't."

Once they launched into the song, it became evident why. There was one Christmas song they did that started out with a very familiar refrain, but within a few lines, it switched. It was actually a well-crafted madrigal arrangement of several Christmas songs. Any attempt at audience participation would have completely screwed up a very nice arrangement and nobody would have been happy.

Let the performer guide you.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Joe Nicholson
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 07:39 PM

can't be doing with concerts anyway I always go to sleep.
Joe N


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:06 AM

This is a very good topic ... I'm glad it got re-started! Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: GUEST,Neovo
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:26 AM

There is a world of difference between joining in on what is obviously a chorus (although on invitation would be preferable) and singing with gusto over what is clearly intended as a solo verse or chorus-less song - even worse a sensitive and softly sung ballad.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:31 AM

SharonA,

You've been given a very dirty job. Don't envy you.

But...

You report that a board member claimed that "some performers may consider it too rude to tell the audience not to sing along..."
Even if that is the case,
Why does your group NOT think that it is the performer's call?
Why does your group NOT simply tell performers that if they a preference they had best express it or live with the consequences.

Russ (Permanent GUEST and occasional song leader)


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:44 AM

as the beer goes down around me so does the tempo, and I'm trying to move on to the next verse while the audience is still on the last line of the chorus

"If you want to come in on the refrains, please do, but I'm not hanging around so don't drag them out"
- me, the other night

Mind you, that was among friends - in a bigger or more mixed crowd I would probably just put up with the dreaded* Choral Dirge Effect.

*Not invariably dreaded, I have to say - there are songs where a kind of slow-motion pileup of voices, in a spirit of never mind the tempo, feel the harmonies, is just what you want. But a lot of the time it's just down to people taking their cue from each other, so that everyone slows everyone else down.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: foggers
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:58 AM

Yes this is an interesting topic. At a regular weekly sing around I attend the emphasis is on everyone joining in, so we all tend to choose well known stuff, or songs with easy choruses. It is in a pub room with quite a bit of background noise from the other side of the bar, so group singing rather than sensitive solos do work best, in my view.

At concerts as an audience member I do have a habit of at least humming along, but I try to keep it in check (for all the reasons stated above) and I prefer to have the performer be explicit about joining in in certain places and just listening to other numbers. So when I am performing a support slot at a concert that is exactly the approach I take; I will put some songs in with easy choruses and invite participation, and I will introduce the songs that I have worked on specific arrangements for with a polite request to listen (and hopefully enjoy!)


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Folkiedave
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:25 AM

"If you feel like clapping - don't".

Mike Harding


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: John P
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 05:23 PM

I'm astonished that anyone would think it appropriate to sing along during a performance without invitation. As a performer, I arrange music in very specific ways to enhance the song. People singing along or clapping usually ruin that. When I do sing-along songs, I arrange them with that in mind. I also don't want to be the one to tell people to be silent -- I don't want to insert negativity into the evening by telling audience members what not to do. I'd rather assume they are polite adults, and depend on the person who hired me to ask the non-polite to be quiet or leave.

As an audience member, I want to hear the performer, not a self-appointed singer sitting next to me. If that person wants to sing in public so badly, they should work up an act and get a gig. If they want to sing along with their favorite folk songs because folk music is participatory, they should go to or create a participatory event. I've sometimes had the idea that people have a philosophical preference for folk music as completely "of the people" and participatory, and are willing to intrude on others to get their point across. Like, "Don't tell me not to sing along. This is Folk Music!" The fact is that folk music ain't what it was in our grandparents' day. The origins of this music may be community based and participatory, with people singing as they work or relax in the evening, but our society has changed. That's not generally the way folk music is played, listened to, or learned anymore. And I suspect that even in the old days a performance was treated as such.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 05:35 PM

Don't worry..I wouldn't sing along during a performance. But if I had a choice between going some place where I could and where I couldn't I would choose where I could, and as an audience member, my preference, and that is all it is for either of us, is to hear the performer and the person sitting next to me both, with certain exceptions, in which case hopefully I can move.

And lots of people, myself included, do not have a desire to sing in public as an act, but as a part of a group. We like it, and again, it is a matter of simple preference.

I tend to like the beer glass thumping kind of music anyway so the chances of me ruining one of your events is fortunatley pretty small. mg


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 05:45 PM

I guess it's horses for courses.....

Any performer worth their salt has learned to "read" an audience. As a very wise lady told me once......If they want to join in....let them! It's a compliment to your engagement with the audience. If they don't want to join in....don't force them and go all happy clappy. If you tell them not to join in you risk alienating your following...however many there be!   And they must be listening to you for a reason?

Are your audience listening to you in respectful silence, or have they gone to sleep?

The same goes for an audience.......you must be listening for a reason, or joining in for a reason?

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: John P
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 06:10 PM

Respectful silence is not that important to me. It all depends on the setting. A coffeehouse or pub would feel odd without folks talking sometimes and listening sometimes. A sit-down concert would feel odd if people weren't paying attention. A group of friends sitting around enjoying music together would be odd if no one was singing along.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Maryrrf
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:47 PM

Waddon Pete summed it up nicely, I think.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: harpmolly
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:44 PM

John P...oh God, that Jethro Tull concert. I remember that, and remember wanting to throttle the guy. Of course he blathered all through the ACOUSTIC set. Big jerk. ;)

At the much-anticipated Roy Zimmerman house concert last weekend, in someone's living room with about 25 people attending, a man right behind us during the last few songs started humming and muttering along in what he probably thought was an undertone (NOT). It was rather excruciating in such an intimate setting, but Roy was far too civilized to call him on it, so just soldiered through anyway. Neither I nor my friends had the nerve to say anything about it, both because we didn't want to cause a scene and because frankly, we weren't sure what his mental state was...merely obnoxiously oblivious, or possibly "not all there"? (in which case it would've been even more embarrassing for Roy). Luckily, Roy's charm and charisma carried the day and we were able to mostly ignore it.

Hmmm...this seems like a really good time to solicit people's opinions about an experience I had a few years ago. I went to a Bruce Cockburn concert with some friends, and we were sitting in the third or fourth row, near the side aisle. One of our party (who might've had a wee dram or so before the show...unconfirmed) was enjoying herself to the point where she felt compelled to get up and dance in the side aisle, occasionally wandering down to the foot of the stage where she was bathed in residual stage light. Now, this was a very simple concert, just Bruce with his guitar and one or two backing musicians. I was completely horrified by my friend's actions, because I felt that in this situation (no one else was dancing or moving out of their seats) she was in danger of pulling focus from Bruce and becoming a major distraction. Eventually it bothered me so much that I actually asked her to sit down, which she did with rather bad grace (she later said she felt "shut down" and I wanted to say, "GOOD!").

Recently, however, I was listening to Bruce's live "Circles in the Stream" cd, and towards the end he says to the audience, "Is there a reason why the people dancing in the aisles can't keep dancing?" At which point I felt a wave of shame wash over me. Ouch.

What do my fellow 'Catters think? Was I, as usual, being a big wet blanket, or was I justified in "shutting her down"? I, for one, was VERY distracted by her dancing and did feel it detracted from the focus of the concert. Then again, as we know, I'm a huge worry-wart. ;)

Good God...my first post to Mudcat in months, and it's a humdinger!


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:56 PM

Molly ... good post! Again ... it's up to the artist to set the rules! (there, that didn't hurt, did it?) Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Maryrrf
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 03:44 PM

I would say no dancing unless the performing artist specifically says it's okay.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 04:06 PM

Having just had a week of twice a day mixed sessions at Sidmouth , if No One joined in , we would think something was wrong ! Though I DID stop when one fiddle scraper (Should have stayed with his melodeon IMO) only played one C part in a tune I was leading ! IF its a Session , LISTEN !!!! Dont just play/bellow with no thought to what the leader is doing !


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: harpmolly
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 04:24 PM

I'm still a little conflicted about it. On the one hand, it WAS distracting, at least to me (especially when she was dancing right by the stage...I mean, COME ON!!) On the other hand...I think I may have been indulging in some pretty prideful and presumptuous behavior, as at least part of my motivation was to "protect Bruce" and it really wasn't my place to do that.

But yeah...in a different setting, or if he had himself encouraged people to get up and dance, it wouldn't have bothered me (I would've been right up there with her). So, I don't know. Someday I'll get to be at peace with it, I suppose. :)


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 04:54 PM

I've taken in all kinds of musical performances over the years. In addition to hearing folk musicians in different venues, from coffeehouses to concerts in full-blown concert halls, I've attended symphony concerts, opera, instrumental and vocal recitals, chamber music, early music (both vocal and instrumental), just about everything but "auditorium rock."

Other than some—some, not all—performances of folk music, I rarely hear performers ask for audience participation. And only rarely do I hear audience members singing or humming along unless specifically asked by the performer. On one occasion, while attending a performance by a small opera company (a full length production of "Rigoletto" sung by young student singers—a monumental task brought off nicely by a group of young hopefuls), one of the less sophisticated audience members started to alternately whistle and hum when the soprano's big aria (Caro Nome) came along. About four measures into it, other audience members within arm's length reached over and offered to strangle the whistler. Under duress, he got the message and shut his big yap.

I have heard the likes of Ewan MacColl hold an audience of 1,600 silently enthralled as he sang ballads (unaccompanied). Joan Baez, Peggy Seeger, Gordon Bok, many others, whose singing was such that the audience wanted to sit quietly (and for others to sit quietly) and listen.

Custer La Rue of the Baltimore Consort, singing English folk songs to the accompaniment of Ronn MacFarlane on the lute. Had anyone tried to join in, other audience members would have sat on the offender's face, or ushers would have duck-walked him or her out the nearest exit.

Some singers of folk songs (most notably, Pete Seeger) want people to join in and encourage them to do so.

But even Pete Seeger does not have the authority to give people carte blanche to join in whenever, or with whomever, they please.

Much folk music is participatory. But much of it is not, requiring, for one's own full enjoyment, and out of regard for the enjoyment of the other members of the audience, that one put a sock in it!!

There are situations where audience participation is appropriate. But there are many situations and circumstances in which it is not. One should try to exercise a little judgment.

Just because it's folk music, does that mean that we can divest ourselves of the restraints of civilized human beings?

[Now that I've thoroughly pissed off a fair percentage of people, I'll move on and check back later.]

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: harpmolly
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 05:01 PM

*wild applause*

(asking people to exercise personal judgement? gee, I don't know, Don...;))


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: mg
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 05:02 PM

I think if the dancers are in a venue unknown to them they should dance in the back and not in the front of the stage..but if it is standard practice have at it. mg


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 05:12 PM

In UK , its almost MANDATORY to join in choruses , but NOT with the verses ! And that includes major concert venues , not just Folk clubs


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 05:14 PM

"Sing something we can dance to. Sing 'Lord Randal'!"

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Amergin
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 06:20 PM

I dunno, Molly, I saw the Battlefield Band last February over in Forest Grove...Alan Reid said that if anyone gets the urge to get up and dance go ahead and do it, we could always do with a good laugh...

My feeling is that if people want to dance, since it is showing an enjoyment of the music, then great....I don't feel it detracts, but enhances the artist's performance....for example I have seen people up by the stage signing the artist's words, and they are literally dancing while they do it...I think it is awesome...

however if some one is singing along to the words...and loudly, and annoyingly...you should have the right to tell them to shut it.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Deckman
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 09:20 PM

We've had an interesting example over the last couple of years in Everett, Washington. The Pacific Northwest Folklore Society has hosted something like 18 different folk performers in public concerts at our Everett library. These concerts are quite popular and many audience members return for each concert.

There is one lady, who's name I don't know yet, who always shows up and sings along ... with EVERY SONG PERFORMED! She appears to be as rehearsed as the performer. She seems to know the words to songs that were only written LAST WEEK! She sits close to the rear of the audience, yet she's like a second voice. It's truly weird and somewhat disturbing.

Some of the performers have engadged her in conversation afterwards, and it appears that she's one of those rare gifted persons who can hear a word, sing pitch, a note, a split second after the performer does it.

It kinda throws me off a little when I'm singing, but none of the performers have complained. I watch her as she leaves the concert hall and just wonder how in the heck she does that? Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Peace
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 09:28 PM

"Concert Etiquette"

Don't fart loudly. IF you do, quickly glare at the person to your left, shake your head and go back to the performance. I did that a year ago and Jeri Corlew hit me when we got off the stage. fyi.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Jeri
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 09:40 PM

Yep. Never slug somebody whilst on stage.
Bob, I can do that. I sing harmonies with songs I've never heard before. I try not to unless I have some sort of excuse such as being drunk or everyone else being drunk, because that split second can really be noticeable.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: GUEST,Ana
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 10:58 PM

I have a group of women friends who play very tightly arranged and often gentle celtic pieces. They were booked to play for an hour at a fairly big gig (beer hall). Mid way through their 2nd to last song a man from the next act began to rearrange the stage around them. One couldn't bare it any longer so confronted him. He shoved her away....and she (involuntarily I understand) knee'd him. Suffice it say, he's rumoured to now only be able to play the piccolo.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 05:27 PM

I hope I am not repeating a previous point...

In my opinion.... joining in choruses when a chorus song is performed is to be expected, why else sing a chorus song? BUT... singing a different chorus, or hijacking th echorus is not acceptable.

Participating in repartee is acceptable, as long as it is in the context of the perfomance. Abusive heckling is not acceptable.

People who pay money to go to a folk performance should be aware that folk often has joining-inny bits and if they don't like people joining in the jining-inny bits then maybe they should save their moey to go to performances with no joining-inny bits.


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 05:50 PM

"People who pay money to go to a folk performance should be aware that folk often has joining-inny bits and if they don't like people joining in the jining-inny bits then maybe they should save their moey to go to performances with no joining-inny bits."

Lets just go back to the start of the thread. This doesn't sound like a "folk performance" but rather a performance by a specialist period music band who happen to be well known on the folk scene. Context is everything


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 11:19 AM

For me it would be a courtesy if sound engineers didn't insist on playing recorded music, however good or bad, during the intervals in a concert and at the close.

Recorded music has its place, but not at a live performance except in the form of CDs for sale.

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 11:57 AM

Coincidentally, Alan Day has posted a comment on the Concertina.net forum about the difficulties of playing at a singaround (not a session) with most of the company singing along or humming the tune. I was accompanying Al last night at this particular singaround, and I was aware that Al had been distracted slightly by the joining-in - but not so much as to impair his performance, IMO. In any case, I was there to keep the tune structure intact, and my parts weren't as complex as his.

I have to say that, for such a good crowd to join in singing instantly and spontaneously, almost as soon as the tune had started, was a tremendous compliment, and there was a huge round of applause afterwards. So a success, in my view - but I was playing guitar, not a 38-button Jefferies!


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM

Since a new thread of this topic appears every few months or so, I have come to the conclusion that when it's posted from a USer it is a request for discussion and possible policy guidance, and when it's from a UKer it's more usually a polite way of trying to let people in their area/social circle know what is preferred. This is because in the US, if I post this topic (for example) it is highly unlikely due to geographic scale that anyone I attend a concert with will see my post; in the UK where everything is so much closer-by, it's VERY likely that a fellow concert-goer will be looking in on the thread-originator's post.

These threads all tend to say much the same thing, so since an older thread is not usually refreshed to add a new comment, but a new one started, apparently it's just like "what is folk music" as a topic-- no definitive answer is possible and it's not possible to make everyone hapopy no matter what the effort. But fascination, bigtime.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: SharonA
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 03:23 PM

Thanks to those who commented on my post of August 6th and offered sympathy and encouragement! I'm going to need it!

Maryrrf: Indeed we do have some VERY enthusiastic singers in our group! In fact, I have been one of them!! Over time I've had to learn (sometimes the hard way) how annoying this can be to others. I think that the best thing in my favor, as I prepare to implement the club's new policy uber-diplomatically, is that the members know I will be fighting the impulse to sing along just as hard as they will.

To answer permanent guest Russ' questions:

"Why does your group NOT think that it is the performer's call?" It's not that the group thinks one way or the other; it's that factions within the group have different opinions on this. There are many folk music clubs in this area (a large US city and its suburban sprawl), each with its own unspoken rule about singing along, and many of our club's members also belong to one or more of these other groups. Then they come to our meetings assuming that they can behave as they do in another group's meeting. Therefore, our club's board has struggled over the years to make a "call" that most of our members will be comfortable with, and as the members come and go, the comfort level changes. In our recent meeting, we came to the realization that we can't let this decision be governed by comfort level or even by majority rule, but rather by rules of concert etiquette!

"Why does your group NOT simply tell performers that if they a preference they had best express it or live with the consequences?" We discussed that option but rejected it. Our members include all levels of performers, from professionals who tour internationally to first-timers who have to muster every ounce of their courage to sing in front of others. We welcome them all. Therefore, we want to avoid scaring off the timid souls by insisting that they be the ones to assertively tell the lustily-singing in-crowd to be quiet and listen. We fear that the timid souls have felt that they don't have the support of the club when they try to state their preference for silence. We have concluded that it's the responsibility of the club's officers and board to draw a hard line that should not be crossed (having lived with the consequences of not having drawn that line, and having found that those consequences are not acceptable).

The challenge, again, is to deal with those who cross that newly-drawn hard line without scaring THEM off! The tactic will be to remind folks that lusty singing is allowed -- nay, encouraged -- during the jam-session portion of our meeting, which follows the formal program... and to remind them that the formal program has formalities that we need everyone to respect!


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Subject: RE: Concert Etiquette
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 18 Sep 17 - 10:25 AM

The singing of the Mellstock Band at that time, with Charles Spicer in the band, needed no audience singing to supplement their fine unamplified swell. However, with their current line up, I'm not so sure, as Charles is no longer in the Mellstocks and a rather feeble voiced lady is!!!


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