How to deal with a concert phone pest

How to deal with a concert phone pest


norman lebrecht

April 29, 2018

The best-selling novelist Douglas Kennedy is an orchestra nut. He goes to concerts always and everywhere, even in Geneva where the audience is notorious for bad behaviour. Here’s how Douglas coped with ladies who can’t keep their fingers off their phones. 

The concert hall for me is my church. I must hear over 125 live concerts a year. In this secular sacred place – you don’t talk to others. You don’t use mobile phones. You respect the communal nature of the event, the high seriousness of the musical endeavour onstage, and the fact that, for a few hours, we all come together to shut off the world outside and concentrate on the abstract wonder that is music’s universal language.


Last night in Geneva I spent two hours at the Victoria Hall – a true wonder of Beaux-Arts sryle, redolent of 19th century subdued opulence (as befits Genève, city of John Calvin), with a rather excellent acoustic. The hall was packed, the tickets feriously expensive (I got one of the few remaining seats a fortnight ago – it was a side view up in the Premeiere Galerie – or First Circle – and cost a whopping 130 Swiss Francs… around $135 or £95). But then again the Vienna Philharmonic were in town and this great orchestra can command such prices – especially in the ‘grand bourgeois’ city that is Genève. And Zubin Mehta was supposed to be leading the orchestra – only to fall ill and be replaced by Daniel Harding.

Now truth be told my jury is out on Mr Harding. I often find his performances to veer towards the technically immaculate and emotionally distant, lacking in the great metaphysic that a major conductor brings to the podium. But last night Harding was in febrile form, conducting a dynamic interpretation of Bernstein Symphony No 1 and a highly charged, deeply felt reading of Mahler 5. It was wonderful to see a clearly talented conductor lift his game and turn galvanic and profound.

But during the Bernstein there was a woman in the third row of the stalls filming the entire event. Five rows behind her a woman was texting. Another woman took several iPhone photos, the flash exploding across the semi-dark hall. And five seats down from me an overdressed woman in her fifties, very bling bling, with the sort of big black round spectacles that called to mind some sort of Fellini-esque ‘grande donna borghese’, spent the entire length of the Bernstein on her phone, not just missing the vivid immediacy of Harding and the Vienna Phil’s interepretation, but also causing a distraction for everyone around her.
As the Bernstein was played without pause between movements it was impossible to say anything. But when the first half ended I stood up and said in French:

“Don’t you know that using your phone during a concert is not just against the rules, but the height of impoliteness?”

The woman looked shocked, then turned monied arrogant.

“No one else complained” she said….

What Douglas did next? Read on here...

Reprinted with permission


  • Sharon says:

    In a small venue cell phone usage is also obvious to the performers and more inconsiderate to them than to other audience members!

    Unless it’s an emergency why someone would spend a lot of money for ticket for a performance and the spend it on the phone is beyond me. Perhaps we are so used to multitasking as we talk on the phone through speaker phones, watch TV, listen to radio, etc. that it automatically carries into live performances and we do not consider how we are affecting those around us. What a pity.

    • SVM says:

      I agree largely with Sharon’s comments, except that I do not think there is any “emergency” that would justify using your mobile telephone during a concert.

      If it were a genuine “emergency”, you should surrender your mobile telephone to one of the stewards stationed *outside* the hall, and ask to be moved to an aisle seat near the exit. Then, should an “emergency” occur, the steward would, at the next suitable break in the concert, fetch you from your seat, so that you can take your “emergency” call *outside* the auditorium.

      If the above solution were unacceptable to you, then you must, out of consideration for others, forgo the concert. It is not fair that others must endure distractions because of your so-called “emergency”.

    • Una says:

      There is no emergency in a concert hall that we didn’t have 10 years ago without these phone pests!!!! Just full of their self-importance and as a singer I can tell you that these phone pests are a total distraction to.tge performer. Had one at Opera North last year who, shall we say, used her – shall we say ‘veil’ to hide the phone and text beside me when I asked to put the thing away and proceeded to ask me if I were Opera North management. She left at the interval!!! The stewards are very much on the ball there – no nonsense Yorkshire! They even get a cinema torch and shine it at them if they really persist.. But very short staffed that night so the audience like me took over!!!

  • Csabai Máté says:

    Not using your phone during concert. Self explanatory.
    Calling out on others who do. Maybe.
    Making a fckn long post about it, posing as a protector of high brow culture. Absolutely snobbish.

    • Symphony musician says:

      “posing as a protector of high brow culture.”
      It’s cynical on your part to say “‘posing as…” and an unkind judgement.
      “Absolutely snobbish”
      Again, very unkind. It’s difficult to overstate how distracting it is for us musicians on stage when audience members use their phones. It affects the performance, as do all kinds of other things in the very dynamic and complex atmosphere of a concert. However distracting it is for us, it must be far more irritating for a really passionate concert-goer like Douglas. I admire his moral courage for speaking up at that concert – considerately, in the interval – and I’m grateful he’s shared his experience. Education is all – if his post influences just one person to behave differently in future then it was worth it.

      • Pierre says:


      • Londonpro says:


      • Marie-Christine says:

        I totally agree with you.
        I witnessed the same kind of thing three weeks ago with the Wiener Philharmoniker : a man in the first row texting as the musicians entered the stage then going noisily through the theatre brochure.
        As we say in French : “Il y a des claques qui se perdent !”.

      • msc says:

        I strongly agree. It is good that someone will call others out on this. Most of us are just too timid.

        • Sue says:

          I say bravo to the man who chastised that narcissistic woman; let’s hope her phone stroking isn’t the only physical contact she ever gets or gives!!

          IMO, it’s up to the house manager/staff to uphold the standards and if they don’t do that avoid the place. I’ve had the experience myself many times in Vienna and the rules are explicitly known to everybody. They are useless without enforcement. Vote with your wallets.

      • Una says:

        Okay until you get a mouthful.of abuse!!!

    • Sharon says:

      Snobbish? I’ve been told to lower my voice on the cell phone on a local bus and Greyhound (for those outside the US that’s the long distance bus company for people who cannot afford trains or planes) has a rule that cell phones should be used very briefly and in low voices only. Most public (in the US that means government i.e. free) schools do not allow students to carry their phones in school

      • Sue says:

        I was on a touring holiday of New Zealand recently and the woman in front of me was on her phone constantly – not so much talking as referring everything to her husband that she was getting by sms, and he was sitting across the aisle. Then every time any kind of message came on the phone it will make that annoying ring. Finally, I exploded and said, “can you turn the damn thing off for just a while please”?

        There’s something kind of sad about somebody who cannot stop paying attention to a phone.

    • Anmarie says:

      It might not hurt for your brow to get raised a bit.

    • nimitta says:

      CSABAI MÁTÉ: “Not using your phone during concert. Self explanatory [sic].”

      Self-explanatory? Obviously not, which is one of the author’s concluding points. “There was absolutely no notification given in the Victoria Hall before the concert that the use of phones or cameras was out of the question and no stewards or ushers around to intervene when the texting and photographing started.”

      Reading the full piece before commenting so that you don’t come off like a troll? Self-explanatory.

  • william osborne says:

    This is especially a problem for theater and music theater events. The hall is usually completely dark except for the stage. When people turn on their phones, it makes a big flash of light that is totally distracting to everyone behind or to the side of the person, and then the phone illuminates several feet around until it is turned off.

  • Christopher Culver says:

    Kennedy writes “we all come together”, as if speaking for everyone, but then he notes that multiple people were using their phones. Maybe he just needs to accept that his view of the concert hall is not shared by everyone else there, and judging by current trends, phone use in the hall will only increase.

    And he complains about someone quietly texting, seriously? Some concert halls are providing free wifi now so that people can continue to use the internet during the concert. They are using the facilities as designed. As long as the sound is off, what’s the problem? “The light of their tiny screen bothers me?” Close your eyes, then. You are there to hear the music, after all.

    • Mathias Broucek says:

      I’m puzzled by your comments. You write like a reasonable man but your attitude is incomprehensible to me.

      The place to half listen to music while playing with a phone is AT HOME. It’s distracting to others to do so in a concert!

      • Christopher Culver says:

        “The place to half listen to music while playing with a phone is AT HOME.”

        The world has changed a lot in the last few years, and current trends will only continue. (Just wait until we get more wearable computing!). Nowadays, the place to ensure a phone-free environment is at home, because phones are all-pervasive in public places now. The etiquette is generally that people should set their phones to silent, not that they should avoid using them entirely. The OP can complain about this all he wants, but it comes across as trying to sweep back the tide, especially when concert halls themselves are increasingly friendly to use of wifi during concerts.

        • V.Lind says:

          “The etiquette is generally that people should set their phones to silent, not that they should avoid using them entirely.”

          Maybe in some places, where experiments in being WiFi friendly are being conducted. (The lighting is probably different to minimise inconvenience to the musicians).

          But good manners are good manners, and “the etiquette” has not changed across the board. All you are saying is that your generation, with its gnat-sized attention span, cannot function without their phones for more than a few minutes at a time All you are proving is how utterly dysfunctional you are: incapable of focus, of conversation, of giving attention to a subject. I dread what is coming up behind those of us with a little more self-control. human contact and actual interest in other people in the word around us, not those presented on a screen — in real life, in other words: how are we going to train doctors, dentists,vets, lawyers, musicians, let alone all the other scientists and artists and thinkers who have brought the world to the stage of development it has achieved? Today’s students can;t get their noses out of phones. It’s pathetic. (And of course many are such snowflakes that their definition of “emergency” is laughable).

          • Christopher Culver says:

            “All you are saying is that your generation”

            Your personal attack is out of order, you have no idea how old I am. In fact, I am not even part of a generation that grew up with mobile phones, and I am used to using my own phone only for calls and SMS. But I can look at society today – especially those younger generations who are, after all, the future of concertgoing – and I can see the writing on the wall.

          • Sue says:

            Bravo x 100 times. Christopher Culver is what we call in the trade, an “enabler”.

          • Una says:

            They can’t even walk down the road – or cross the road – without staring at their phones!

      • Sue says:

        It’s standard look-at-me narcissism. I’m entitled. End of story. Don’t worry your little head about courtesy and customs.

        And if venues offer free wi-fi I’ll avoid them like the plague. End of story.

    • Adrienne says:

      “but then he notes that multiple people were using their phones.”

      How many is “multiple people”? A majority, which would be 822 people? I doubt it (it seats 1642).

      I’m sure that even Bernstein’s own opinions could have waited until the end of the concert.

    • Sharon says:

      If a facility has wifi it is for use outside the auditorium itself. Lincoln Center has wifi but that is for their park like podium and library which is attached to the complex.

      • Christopher Culver says:

        “If a facility has wifi it is for use outside the auditorium itself.”

        This is not necessarily the case. Some halls have installed wifi infrastructure inside the actual auditorium (Helsinki’s newish Musiikkitalo is an example). As I said, there is increasing interest in letting concertgoers have access to the internet in order to look up information about the composer and work, and in some developed countries wifi just gets installed in just about every public space as the default and in order to retain visitors.

  • John Borstlap says:

    “The concert hall for me is my church. – You respect the communal nature of the event, the high seriousness of the musical endeavour onstage, and the fact that, for a few hours, we all come together to shut off the world outside and concentrate on the abstract wonder that is music’s universal language.” Someone who truly understands the nature of the art form and its practice. Classical music is about interior experience as an alternative to the outside world. Phone gadgets are part of that outside world and simply should be prohibited – collected at the cloak room and put in black, wooden boxes with a big padlock on it, accompanied by the staff’s stern looks.

  • Londonpro says:

    Well said Mr Kennedy. The sense of entitlement regarding mobile phones is phenomenal; no decorum nor manners left anywhere. Time and place for such things. Certainly not in a concert hall except if there is an interactive concert as recently given at the Barbican!

    • Sue says:

      And what is possibly even worse (hard to imagine, I know) is that the phones are being stroked and attended to whilst you’re trying to have a conversation with these socially challenged individuals. The very minute I see that I shut up like a clam. No further correspondence will be entered into.

  • Robert Roy says:

    it’s not the first time that the ‘culprit’ is a photographer engaged by the organisation to take pictures that will, presumably, be used for publicity purposes. I encountered a female photographer who walked up to edge of the Grand Circle in the Usher Hall during an Edinburgh Festival concert and started snapping away with a camera that had motor at the beginning of a concert featuring a top class ensemble. I complained to the usher who confirmed that this was indeed the case. The attitude was ‘tough!’

    • SVM says:

      The proper time to take publicity photographs is during the dress rehearsal, not the concert itself (except perhaps during the applause at the end). As for audio/video equipment being used to make an official recording of the concert itself, it must, of course, be aurally unobtrusive.

  • Nick2 says:

    I am not a member of Facebook and never have any intention of becoming one. When there is a link to a Facebook post, could readers please be provided with another way of reading the information?

    • SVM says:

      I second Nick2’s request.

      Please ask Mr Kennedy to republish his post on a webpage accessible to all (or obtain his permission to republish in full on Slipped Disc).

    • bratschegirl says:

      You don’t have to be logged in to Facebook to read a public post like this one. As far as I know, you don’t even have to have a FB account (I do, but I was logged out while perusing Slipped Disc). All you have to do is click the link above – the word “here” in red at the end of this article – and the post appears.

      • Nick2 says:

        Works for me – for maximum 2 seconds. Then the page goes dark and the centre half of the screen over the original text has something from Facebook. One half says this-

        Douglas Kennedy
        La symphonie du hasard
        Livre 2

        – and the other half is either an order form or an application form to join Facebook. I am never able to read Facebook pages.

        • V.Lind says:

          At the bottom of that Facebook self-promotion is a line that says something like “Not now” or”Maybe later.” Click on that. It clears the story.

          • Nick2 says:

            Thank you so much for that very useful advice. Much appreciated. Since I live in a country whose language I do not read, I had not understood – and stupidly had not tried google translate for – that line at the foot.

  • Augustine says:

    I am reading “Reclaiming Conversation” by Sherry Turkle.

    This book has nothing to do with music or concert going but it is about the intrusion of technology into people’s lives and how deeply it is affecting them – relationships, education, work and leisure.

    Make no mistake about it, incidences such as described by Kennedy will become the norm as more and more people become addicted to multitasking and become unable to concentrate for longer than 3 minutes.

    I ended my season subscription to my local orchestra because of inconsiderate use of smartphones. Confronting these people can lead to a poorer experience than just trying to ignore them because the anger and frustration does not dissipate once the music starts again.

    • Sue says:

      I watch panel discussion programs on TV and cable and it’s standard practice to see them looking at their phones whilst on television – and in one case it even rang and the ring of an arrived text message was heard. Sometimes when they think the camera is off them they’re actually texting. The Australian PM was seen sending a text message during Theresa May’s recent speech for an economic forum with foreign leaders. This same man takes ‘selfies’ when he’s with other world leaders. Groan.

      • Augustine says:

        A US Senator was caught playing poker on his iPhone during a major debate on important an important policy decision.

  • Thomasina says:

    I was really shocked when I read this story. I read a lot of his novels and I thought he knew a lot about the delicate emotions of women. I think it is correct that he warned this woman but she seems to behave arrogantly trying to hide her shock and embarrassment, otherwise she would remain until the end. But he declares his victory on his facebook rather than considering the feelings of this immature woman. Yes, she did not return for Mahler and she will never return to a concert of classical music again. I have no longer read his novel…(but there is no impact on the sale of his novel).

    • Adrienne says:

      “But he declares his victory on his facebook rather than considering the feelings of this immature woman. Yes, she did not return for Mahler and she will never return to a concert of classical music again.”

      You don’t know whether she will return or not. Maybe the incident will help her grow up, if that was indeed the problem.

      And she certainly didn’t consider the feelings of up to 1641 other people.

      • Thomasina says:

        He is clearly stating “she did not return” and he is glorifying God. I know well there was a problem with her action. What I wanted to say is that I was shocked by his word. I have also make a mistake in various scenes and have been warned of the elders but never been abused like this.

    • Sue says:

      I was in a concert in Vienna (Musikverein) once and a phone rang behind me; the wife quickly said ‘turn if off’. Neither of them returned for the second half of the program, such was their embarrassment.

    • SVM says:

      Re Thomasina: Why are you so concerned about the feelings of that one telephone user, when she is offending and ruining the enjoyment of thousands of others? If she “never” comes back, good riddance! People must learn to behave themselves — if necessary, the hard/embarrassing way.

      Personally, I think we need to be far more militant against such people. The problem is that the most effective approaches would make even more noise. However, if a telephone-user is sitting right next to me, I will physically push his/her telephone downwards rapidly and sharply (being careful neither to make any noise nor touch the person himself/herself). People learn to behave themselves very quickly if the safety of their expensive gadgets is under threat (well, there was one who had a go at me after the concert, and I replied by explaining to her that she had no right to take photographs during the music, and, moreover, that I hoped she never goes to a classical concert again… her feeble response was that I should have spoken to her while the music was playing!?!?!).

      • Thomasina says:

        Your explanation is correct and as I said already, it was correct that he warned her. But I was surprised that a novelist like him, the specialist who so delicately depicts the inner conflict of women, treated her as a teenager without brain. Indeed she acted like a real idiot who did not consider of other people, but I think that does not become a reason that he treated her as a teenager without brain in the public, especially when other people are watching over with the curious eyes (I don’t know if you are the same type as him…).

  • BenC says:

    I’ve worked out that – at recent opera performances – people check their phones to see how long is left and whether their train is on time. And it means the lights go on near the climax. Yes, just at the start of ‘Bella Figlia Dell Amore’, as Alfredo returns to Violetta and as Don Jose lunges at Carmen. it does make me wonder whether shelling out £100+ is worth it.

    And then there are the people who sing along…

    I think my solution is different. As theatres now have ‘relaxed’ performances, could we now have ‘uptight’ performance for people like me who want to immerse themselves in the performance rather than see lots of flashing lights and listen to snatches of conversation (and people eating…)

  • Marc says:

    One of the comments to Mr. Kennedy’s Facebook blog recalled an announcement prior to a performance in Brussels, stating “Please close your cell phones and open your hearts.” I like that. As noted in comments above, pre-concert announcements about the prohibited use of phones, cameras or recording devices must be made everywhere for all occasions. Whether this request is honored or not is another issue, but at least audience members have some back-up should they complain. Also, many artists have in their contracts the prohibition of recording their performances, which becomes a legal issue also worth announcing. Ain’t it sad that we have this nuisance at all?

  • Dave says:

    The day isn’t far off where ticket holders will be required to lock their phones in a bag or box and retrieve it after the show. It is already happening in smaller venues like comedy clubs. Get ready for it.

    • Christopher Culver says:

      I am not sure this will happen. As I said, a lot of halls have rolled out wifi within the performance venue, and patrons are sometimes being encouraged to lookup information about the piece on their phones during the performance.

      But also, classical music venues are not really comparable to comedy clubs. In a comedy club, everyone really is there to pay attention to the jokes. In a classical concert hall, there are passionate music fans like the OP who demand total concentration on the performances, but a lot of concertgoers (including loyal subscriber audiences an orchestra cannot alienate) who are only there just to get out and perhaps be seen, and the art itself is not the overriding priority for them. These patrons were dozing off etc. during the performance long before mobile phones were a thing. So, any orchestral player surely ought to realize that not everyone is completely into the music.

      • BenC says:

        You make it sound like a race to the bottom.

        There have always been people who don’t really want to see the performance but technology makes it easier for them to disturb other people.

        I’ve stopped going to the cinema because of the distractions – at this rate I may give up on live performance, full stop. I’m a little taken aback by the idea that it is OK to disturb other people if you’re bored. There’s a difference between not being “completely into the music” and being a total, annoying pain.

        That said, Wigmore Hall doen’t seem to have this problem. That may be a solution for me.

      • V.Lind says:

        That’s pretty feeble justification. At prices such as those cited, I would venture that most people ARE there to listen to the music. If someone dozes off for some reason due to what has been going on in their life — heavy stretch of work, up all night with a teething baby, not very well — they are not interfering with other people’s enjoyment (as long as they do not snore, in which case it is legit to nudge them).

        It is just RUDE to be using cellphones in this or any other venue where people are supposed to be there for a specific reason, aside from the interactive experiments to which you have alluded. The lack of understanding that doing one thing at a time is not a sign of some sort of incompetence is chronic. If I invite people to dinner, I will NOT have phones on the table.The notion is preposterous. Just because people have paid their way into a concert hall is no reason to tune out.

        What the hell is going on with these phones half the time? Text exchanges, sometimes with people in the same room (as in schools). What are the odds what is on 90% of texts has ANY meaning whatsoever? Yet people ignore things that DO have meaning in order to glue their snouts to a small screen, oblivious to the interests of others.

        The hall also has a sin to answer for in not announcing beforehand that phones are to be turned off.

        • Sue says:

          There’s a strange kind of pseudo-phone ringing sound which occurs at the Musikverein just before a concert or recital starts. The hall is always full at this time and the orchestra poised to start. I was up on night on the Balkon Loge and when this noise was activated the cheeky young man next to me called out “hello”!! Everybody laughed.

      • Dave says:

        When enough performers demand that cellphones be locked up, this will surely happen. Despite what you say, ticket holders are getting tired of rude patrons. When more people decide to forego live performances, maybe management will get off their backsides and do something about the problem.

        • SVM says:

          I agree completely that we need more performers to take the militant approach of Krystian Zimerman and Keith Jarrett. However, given how competitive the profession is, I suspect most performers fear that any perception (however justified) of being “demanding” may damage their prospects.

      • Sharon Beth Long says:

        Encouraged to look up information DURING the performance? I kind of doubt it. In the past two years I’ve been to at least two play performances in small venues where even paper programs were given out after the performance because rustler them and reading them during the performance was too distracting to the actors.
        Does anyone think that for economic and ecology reasons we will move from paper programs to programs that are electronically sent to our phones? Is this being considered anywhere. I hope not because we will see a lot more of this distraction if this occurs

        • Saxon Broken says:

          I agree, people who rustle their programmes loudly during concerts are extremely annoying.

  • Saul Davis says:

    What I found worked was having an emcee speak to the audience before the start and ask, “How many of you have cellphones? Raise your hands. Good, now take them out and make sure they are turned off. Now, put them away until after the concert is over and enjoy yourselves.” Making them publicly display the devices and shut them off was effective. And sure enough, some were not off. You have to make them check them.
    You have to have ushers inside the hall to stop people who are using them, and remove them if needed. I doubt anyone would dare do so in a Broadway theater or Lincoln Center, where the matron ushers looked like they would beat you with a truncheon if you did anything wrong.
    The management cannot be passive on this, or it is their fault.

  • Michael says:

    Let’s not forget that many people go to concerts for other reasons than to listen to the music. I work in a European orchestra where somebody’s phone rings at every concert. I’ve heard people answer their phones and say, ” sorry I can’t talk now, I’m at a concert”. It’s a losing battle. The only solution would be to block the cell phone frequencies, which can be done. The public can still be noisy, especially when they are bored. Coughing is a favorite passtime, and unwrapping candies during quiet moments echos throughout the hall. As a performer, I can shrug it off, since I have no control over the public. Nor does anybody else. Why ruin your evening argueing with somebody? Cell phones are here to stay, and people don’t want to turn them off.

    • V.Lind says:

      Well, people bloody should. Shrugging off ill manners is a ghastly caving in to the barbarians. It costs them nothing to sit still and pay attention for a couple of hours — and nobody is forcing them to be there.

      As for “emergencies,” we managed for centuries without cellphones. A text telling someone “I am at the store” or sending a picture of something THAT CAN WAIT is not an emergency. And halls have ways of dealing with real ones.

    • Nick2 says:

      I entirely agree that the signal for cell phones, iPads and other such devices should be blocked in concert and other performance venues. It’s the obvious and simplest solution and technically it definitely can be done. When I tried to get one particular hall to do this I was told there are legal reasons why it is not possible. What these are I was not informed. But my reply was: lobby to get the law changed!

      Coughing is another matter, but with few exceptions it is again carelessness and lack of consideration on the part of those coughing. Obviously some people have to cough if they have a cold or whatever. But there are ways to prevent this becoming a distraction to other audience members. I have written before about a note in large type that used to be on the cover of every LSO programme in the early 1970s. It read something like this –

      Do you realise that a cough in a quiet concert hall has the same effect as a French Horn playing fortissimo? Please be considerate. Have a handkerchief ready on your knee so that should you feel a desire to cough, you can cover your mouth and minimise the distraction.

      Nowadays handkerchiefs are not so common, but tissues are.

      As with unwrapping sweets – why is it that those who decide they absolutely need to to suck a sweet unwrap them so slowly stupidly believing this makes the noise less intrusive? It makes it much worse!

      I suspect that most of the candy unwrappers and the coughers fail to understand how intrusive the noises they produce are. So a way has to be found to delicately inform audiences about manners in a performance venue. That is the responsibility of hall managements and presenters.

      • Sharon says:

        Sometimes the unwrapping is off cough drops to stop the coughing

        • Nick2 says:

          A handkerchief or tissues at the ready will muffle the first attack of coughing. If it’s a bad series of coughs necessitating a lozenge, most popular brands do not require any tricky unwrapping. Indeed, I do not know of any that are wrapped with crinkle paper like candies. From my own experience, those audience members who unwrap sweets are doing just that – they want something sweet rather than something to dampen a cough.

    • Sue says:

      Well, I’m sorry to read such a fateful and defeated comment. That means no more concertizing for me. They certainly won’t be needing my (more than generous) music dollars anymore if that’s the case.

    • John Kelly says:

      Sure – let’s let them bring in popcorn as well and they can chat like they’re in their living room on Gogglebox. Great idea…………………I certainly don’t pony $100 or $200 to hear some d*ckhead chatting away………….

  • Hefty Jones says:


  • Jackyt says:

    If you want to attend an opera or concert, turn off your phone.
    If you want to play with your phone – stay at home. It’s simple.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Agreed. And the reasons for such decisions are very simple too. But most people have great difficulties with simple things.

      • Marc says:

        From an article in the NY Post, November, 2017 (no doubt, the numbers have since gotten worse):

        Americans check their phone on average once every 12 minutes – burying their heads in their phones 80 times a day, according to new research.

        A study by global tech protection and support company Asurion found that the average person struggles to go little more than 10 minutes without checking their phone. And of the 2,000 people surveyed, one in 10 check their phones on average once every four minutes.

    • HP Gussett says:

      No much better to use a cell phone blocking app and then you will not be bothered!

    • Sue says:

      I think the operative word here is “play”; ergo “child”.

      • V.Lind says:

        On behalf of actors and sportspeople everywhere, I thank you. 🙂

        Seriously, in the context, you are absolutely right.

  • HP Gussett says:

    I have an app which can temporarily block all cell phones in the same room. Pure genius it works great. I love seeing folk trying at concerts to get the bloody things working, only after the last note has sounded out, do I turn it off! No interruptions for me or anyone else.

    • Michael says:

      What is the app called?

      • HP Gussett says:

        My mate at GCHQ developed it, not for general usage as it is sort of iffy to block phones, he let me field test it. It works 100%, no phones ever work if the blocking app is on.

  • feurich says:

    They are checking their phones, just as they are reading the program non-stop, because they are bored, un-concentrated and not really into the music. This is the sad reality.
    I often tell people to put their phones away, frequently I have to tell women to do so.
    I recently told a lady to stop filming the beginning of the concert at the Concertgebouw. She had the audacity to challenge me at the break and told me I had right to have told her to stop and that she was not disturbing anyone. I defended myself and told her how silly it is have to have film everything at the expense of true enjoyment. I then went to get the usher and he explained to her that filming was not permitted. She claimed she did not know. But once concert starts, there is no invigilation.
    The silence before a concert or piece begins is part of the music. The listener needs to concentrate to get the most out of the experience. I think too many people can’t concentrate, don’t know what they are listening to, look bored and act like it. They have ruined many nights for me unfortunately and when I book expensive tickets I often wonder if it’s worth the risk. I decided the next time a concert is ruined by a person obsessed with their idiot phone, I will ask the venue to give me my money back. It is there responsibility to stop these people.

    • HP Gussett says:

      Use a blocking app mate no need to have a row. I made my own app it was dead easy to block phones in the same room. I am now working on one to block all cellphones on the planet!