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Getting Ready

Getting to Know the Music

Some people enjoy concerts more if they get involved with the music beforehand. You know yourself best: what would help you be affected by the music?

Many people like to listen to the music before the concert. This can be a lot of fun, too. Find a recording of one of the pieces at the library, in a friend’s collection, online, or in a store. Play the music in your kitchen, or in your car, or just sit down and listen. Try listening to different recordings of the same music—the differences might surprise you!
Some people increase their enjoyment by reading a biography of the composer, by finding out more about the performers, or by looking into the musical style or historical period. The concert’s web site may provide background information, recommended reading, or links to relevant web sites. You can search the Internet to learn more about pieces, composers, or performers.

Of course, many people enjoy concerts just fine without any special preparation—you don’t have to be an expert on the music. But more and more concertgoers are finding that they can deepen their experience by making friends with the music beforehand.

What to Wear

Alas, there is no simple answer to the question of what to wear to a concert, because every concert has its own atmosphere and style. Opening night at the opera might require formal dress, but most concerts are far less formal. At some performances you’ll be out of place if you dress up too much!

I once attended a concert at an
ultra-hip L.A. venue devoted to
cutting-edge arts. As I arrived at
the theater entrance, a friend came
over to say hello; he was dressed
all in black: black cowboy hat, black
shirt, black jacket, black jeans, black
belt, and black cowboy boots.
Everybody else waiting to go inside
was dressed in black. I was wearing
a Hawaiian shirt, and for a moment
I got nervous. It didn’t seem to
matter. We all went in, and the
concert was wonderful.

Usually you can wear whatever you want. Because people will be wearing all manner of clothes, you’ll fit in no matter what. If you enjoy dressing up, take advantage of the occasion! If you hate dressing up, wear comfortable clothes.

If you are worried, put on what you would wear to a business meeting or, better yet, to a wedding—after all, a concert is a kind of celebration, so wear something festive! Evening concerts generally inspire dressier outfits than daytime events.

To get more specific wardrobe advice, ask around, or call the organization and ask what people tend to wear.

Because concerts squeeze lots of people into one room, it’s best not to wear strong fragrances.

Preconcert Lectures

Many organizations offer lectures immediately before their concerts. These “preconcert lectures” include information and insights about the composers and the pieces, along with some musical examples. You may also hear from performers and composers themselves. Call the organization or check its web site to find out about preconcert lectures.

Introduction to Classical Music
  Music Categories
  Musical Instruments
  History of Classical Music
  Discover the Classics
     Vol. 1 | Vol. 2 | Vol. 3 | Vol. 4

Glossary of Musical Terms

A-Z of Opera
  Synopses of Opera
  Index of Operas by Composer
  Opera Libretti

How To Enjoy A Live Concert
  A Note from the Author
  The Listener's Job Description
  Part 1: Before the Concert
  Choosing a Concert 
Kinds of Concerts 
Styles of Presentation: Formal, Informal, and Beyond 
Buying a Ticket
Sections of the Theater 
Getting Ready 
Getting There 
  Part 2: At the Concert
  "Concert Manners" 
The Concert Ritual 
Reading the Program 
Instruments of the Orchestra 
Ways to Listen 
Meeting the Performers 
Essential Life Support 
  A Brief Glossary

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