All About Concert Reports

Appropriate Concerts

For the Concert Report assignment, you may attend a wide variety of different types of concerts that are included in the instructor’s Concert List. They may be professional or college level concerts or performances by comparable community groups. Church concerts may not be acceptable; check with the instructor first. The concert on which you report must take place this quarter. (See note below about attending concerts that are not on the list.)

Acceptable concerts include the following:

  • Symphony orchestras
  • Concert bands and wind ensembles
  • Chamber Music (string quartets, brass and woodwind quintets, etc.)
  • Solo recitals (piano, voice, etc.)
  • Choral concerts
  • Early music concerts
  • Non-western music
  • Some jazz concerts

NOTE: You may not attend concerts for these assignment that are not on the “Bay Area Concerts” list unless you get advance approval from the instructor. If you wait until after attending a concert to ask for approval you will not be allowed to report on the event.

The following types of concerts are not recommended for this assignment but may occasionally be acceptable with advance permission from the instructor only.

  • Opera
  • Ballet

You may not report on the following types of concerts for this assignment:

  • Concerts at which you work as a performer, ticket-taker, stage hand, usher, etc.
  • Concerts which took place prior to the beginning of this quarter.
  • High school or lower level groups.
  • Broadway musicals.
  • Anything else not included on the “Bay Area Concerts” list.

Finding out about concerts

Select your concert from the instructor’s Concert List. The only concerts that are approved for this assignment are those found on this list. The list is normally updated at least once per week, usually on Fridays and on the weekends.

Many local performances are also listed in Bay Area newspapers. Let me know if you see a concert listed there that is not on my list and I may add it to the list if I think it is appropriate.

Preparing for concerts

You will be able to better understand and enjoy these concerts if you know something about the music. Try to find out as much as possible about the program in advance, and do some reading in the text, at the library, and on the web about the compositions that you will be hearing and their composers.

Perhaps the best way to ensure your understanding and enjoyment of a concert is to listen to recordings of the works ahead of time. Many are available at public libraries. At a minimum you should check the text for information about the composers, style periods, and forms included on the concert.

Obtaining tickets

Ticket policies vary depending upon the type of event. If you are attending a concert of a major performing group or a recital by a major soloist or ensemble you should call ahead and reserve a ticket. Some events do occasionally sell out. (By the way, do not automatically give up and go home if you arrive at a sold out concert. Sometimes you can find someone outside the auditorium trying to sell their extra tickets or even give them away!) Although college and university concerts do not generally sell out and you can probably get tickets at the door, it still is always a good idea to call ahead.

Ticket prices range from free to astronomical. Regular symphony tickets range from about $10 to over $80; student tickets are often available in the $5-$10 range if you have student ID. Many concerts by college and community groups cost less than $10 and some are free. The “weekly concert list” will always highlight free concerts.

Dressing for a concert

It is generally appropriate to “dress up” for concerts of major orchestras – though concert dress has become somewhat less formal over the years. Your concert-going experience will be very uncomfortable if you are the only one who isn’t dressed up enough. College and community concerts are generally less formal, and you can probably wear anything neat and clean.

Arrive early!

Get to the concert hall (not the parking garage!) at least a half hour before the concert. You will need to get to the location, find parking, find the hall, locate the ticket windows, get your ticket, find your seat, read the program notes, etc before the music starts. Arrive even earlier if you have to find parking in an unfamiliar area — and build in plenty of extra time to account for the possibility of traffic problems.

Some groups (such as the San Francisco Symphony) present free pre-concert lectures (highly recommended!) about 1 hour prior to the start of the concert.

If you arrive late at most concerts you will not be allowed to enter until the first piece is over. You may miss a significant part of the concert, and this will affect your concert review/report grade.

Printed Programs

A printed concert program is available at almost all events. If someone – ticket-taker, usher, etc. – does not offer you one, look around or even ask. Some programs are minimal and may consist of a single photocopied sheet listing the pieces to be performed and some other basic information. In other cases – such as professional concerts my major performing groups – the program may look more like a small magazine.

Look for the program page listing the music to be played on your concert. This will help you identify pieces, figure out how many movements they include, see when the intermission may occur, and so forth. In addition, you are required to include a copy of the printed program with your report when you turn it in.


The rewards of live “classical” music come to those who learn to listen attentively. Since the material of music is sound, any extraneous noises are extremely distracting. Avoid tapping your foot, whispering, flipping through the program, unwrapping candy, or doing anything else which distracts others from the music – including scribbling concert report notes too loudly!

Phones and Other Distractions

Do not use your cell phone at any time while music is playing – turn it off completely.* It is never OK to text or otherwise use your phone while the music is playing unless the performers themselves explicitly encourage you to do so. Even having your screen light up while you use the phone silently is distracting to other listeners and may get you in trouble. This may seem odd or annoying to you, but just go with the flow and don’t use the phone.

* Turn it completely because many phones can make sounds when put to sleep or in so-called silent mode. There are terribly embarrassing stories about people whose phones did such things at bad moments. In any case, you aren’t doing to be using the phone or even checking it during the event, so shut the darned thing off all the way!


It is traditional to applaud at the end of complete pieces. It is usually inappropriate to clap between movements, although there are exceptions to this rule. If you don’t know when to clap, just avoid being the first to applaud until you become familiar with the concert routine.

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Contact Info: Dan Mitchell

Office Hours

Monday & Wednesday
Room A11:
15 minutes before Music 1A
10 minutes after Music 1A
Room A91:
15 minutes before Music 51
10 minutes after Music 51
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