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Getting There

Being on Time

You have to arrive on time. If you are late, you won’t be allowed in until there’s a pause in the music. In some situations—especially when the music has no pauses—no one is admitted after the music starts.

Even more important, if you rush in late you’ll be in no condition to settle down to the task of listening to the music. Get there early enough to enjoy the atmosphere, to look at the theater, and to find your seat and get ready for the music.

If you do arrive late, an usher will help you get to your seat at an appropriate time.

Finding the Theater

If you haven’t been to the theater before, leave lots of extra time to find it. If you bought your ticket online, check the web site for a map and directions, or check the theater’s web site. Season brochures often include a map. You also can call the office for directions. Check a city map before you go, though. Sometimes the people in the office, who have been to the concert hall a zillion times, forget what it’s like to be a first-timer. And sometimes the Internet gives crazy directions.

Public transportation often serves concert halls very well. Just be sure that the buses or trains will be running when the concert is over.

If you drive, remember that urban concert halls can be hidden in a maze of one-way streets. Allow extra time for solving the maze!


Parking can be expensive—sometimes parking the car costs more than the concert! Parking can be scarce, especially at small recital halls and alternative spaces like art galleries and dance studios. Parking can be distant, especially at universities, where walking from the parking structure to the concert can feel like going on safari.

Sometimes we musicians avoid the
post-concert parking-lot chaos by
walking to a nearby restaurant or
bar to socialize until the parking lot
has emptied out. Join us! I have had
some very enjoyable conversations
with audience members while
waiting out the traffic.

Check the web site or season brochure for parking information; there might also be a map showing where to park. Or call the office. Don’t be shy; they get lots of calls about this sort of thing. It’s part of their job to help you, the valued concertgoer, find a place to park.

Allow some extra time for parking, and bring some extra money to pay for it. After the concert, don’t be in a hurry to get home afterward. When an entire audience is trying to exit a parking lot at one time, it’s not a pretty sight. Be patient.

The Box Office

If you don’t have your ticket yet, you will need to find the box office. Usually it’s in front of the theater or in the lobby, but at some theaters architects have cleverly hidden the box office. Just ask where it is, and try to enjoy the adventure of finding it. The box office may have several different windows. If your ticket is being held for you, go to the “Will Call” window. To buy a ticket, look for a window that says something like “This Performance.”

Finding Your Seat

Your ticket will admit you to the concert hall, and, if seating is reserved, it also indicates where you are to sit. Show your ticket to an usher, who will help you find your seat.

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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