Drum Corps International
Audience etiquette

Audience etiquette

by Emily Tannert

As I've mentioned in the past, coming up with ideas every week can be harder than actually writing this column! So I was overjoyed recently when Ryan Benoit, a good friend and band director in the Baton Rouge area, solved my problem this week by requesting that I discuss audience etiquette at drum corps shows. The most basic fact to remember when you're at a drum corps show is that you, and everyone else, are there to admire the efforts of the performers on the field. Anything that might interfere with that effort can be inappropriate and should be avoided. It used to be the case that the biggest problem you might have at a show is an overly anxious youngster who felt the need to get up constantly in the middle of the shows. And this is still an issue; you should be in your seat from the first salute until the final bow (although feel free to jump up for a standing ovation, being respectful of course, of anyone behind you). If you have to get up and use the restroom, get a drink, whatever, make sure you're out of the main seating area before the next corps starts, and don't come back in until after the performance is done. Many times at the larger venues, television screens will be located on the concourse, so even if you have to get up during a performance, you won't miss a beat!

Emily Tannert
A new problem I've started seeing in the last couple of years is people who actually answer their cell phones during the show! Some have no problem carrying on a conversation while sitting in the stands – shouting, of course, to be heard over the horn line. Others are at least courteous enough to get up and go down to the concessions area, but of course this involves stumbling over half the row, and blocking the view of those behind them in the stands, in the effort to get out. The best course of action is, of course, just to turn the thing off! If that's not feasible for you, at least put it on vibrate, and if you get a call, wait until after the corps' performance is done to go check your voicemail and return the call.   The same idea applies to playing games, surfing the web, or sending text messages on your cell phone. It's rude to both the performers and the other audience members, so don't do it. By the same token, don't carry on a conversation with your friends during a performance. It's one thing to say, "Wow, that was cool!" It's another thing entirely to start planning your post-show entertainment. Also, don't bring all your audiovisual equipment to shows. It's illegal to videotape at the show venue. Still shots are allowed at shows, but keep in mind, the flash can be distracting for the performers and other audience members. And finally, remember that no matter how well a corps does on any given night, every performer out on that field deserves your respect and support. Don't jeer, boo (of course, calling "BLOOOOOO!" when the Bluecoats take the field is always appropriate!), or otherwise make snide comments. You never know when the tired, food-stained man or woman sitting next to you is a corps parent, so don't risk someone overhearing you say something negative. This goes for spending time in the lot as well. I see plenty of young kids gathered around various sections, watching warm-up, every year, and often I'll see someone point, comment and laugh. I can't help but be amazed that someone who spends his or her summer at home in a comfy bed with air conditioning, television and hot water could laugh at someone taking part in the activity – regardless of how well the member is playing that night. You're not out there; s/he is; so respect that, if nothing else, and keep your opinions to yourself. The only appropriate response is applause and cheering. And speaking of cheering, it is the most appropriate thing you can do at a drum corps show, so do lots of it, every time you see something you like! Performers love feedback from crowds and the more they give you on the field, the more you should give them back from the stands. The best crowds usually get the best performances, so cheer away and enjoy the show!


Emily Tannert is a music education/percussion performance major at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, and holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University. Emily graduated from the Glassmen in 2003 and was assistant tour manager for the corps in 2004 and 2005. You can contact Emily at emily@imoses.com. View archived Emily Tannert columns.

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