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Answer Man: To clap or not to clap …

September 23, 2018

This Classic Answer Man was first published in July 2004.

Dear Answer Man: I haven’t gone to many classical music concerts, though I listen to classical music on Minnesota Public Radio.

It appears there are pauses (by the musicians) at which it is correct to applaud and other pauses where it’s a definite no-no. At one concert I attended, someone started clapping at apparently the wrong time (it wasn’t me!), causing others who were also clueless to join in, and the four or five musicians on the stage looked startled and then kind of upset.

Can you clue me in as to when to clap and when not to? — Applause Amateur

The Answer Man offers these simple rules for classical concerts:

• Don’t unwrap a cough drop during the quiet parts.

• Don’t wear big, jangling earrings and then bob your head in time to the music.

• Turn off your cell phone, especially if you have a Mozart theme as your ring tone.

• Check the program and count the movements: You generally don’t clap between the movements of symphonies, concertos, etc., though on rare occasions, for brilliant performances, a few people will clap. That makes them connoisseurs – but if too many people clap, they’re considered idiots.

• Just don’t clap DURING the music.

Bonus for opera-goers: Don’t insult a female singer by shouting “bravo.” It’s “brava” for girls.

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