Performance courtesies and etiquette

January 5, 2020, 9:04 AM · We are trying to teach my son how to appropriately respond when he is given opportunities like an invited performance. I feel that a performer who is polite, courteous, thankful, and of course prepared is much more likely to be invited back or given further opportunities.

I'm not really sure what the proper etiquette is, though. We've had him write thank you notes to the conductor/orchestra/coordinator after invited performances, as well as make sure to thank them in person after the performance.

What else would you recommend? For example, after a masterclass or a competition (whether you win or not)?

Replies (16)

January 5, 2020, 9:45 AM · Courtesy is always appreciated and remembered. These days it is too rare.
January 5, 2020, 9:58 AM · Any kind of formal invitation should get a courteous written acknowledgement. I agree with Andrew. Your son will stand out for being the only one. In a good way.
January 5, 2020, 10:54 AM · I don't find that written thank-you notes are used much these days, but emails are a common courtesy. (The advantage of an email is that it can easily be forwarded to other people who could conceivably be included in the thanks. For instance, when my orchestra receives thank-you notes, they are typically forwarded to the board and everyone on the volunteer staff.)
Edited: January 5, 2020, 12:09 PM · Your son is doing everything right. :-)

Editing to add that a written thank you is far more impressive than an email. It represents significantly greater effort on the part of the writer and demonstrates an awareness of the magnitude of the opportunity, favor, or gift. Yes, emails can be forwarded but written thank yous get posted on bulletin boards. It's also possible to scan the handwritten note and send to everyone who would be receiving a forwarded email.

Last year's high school winner of our concerto competition brought home-made cookies in individual bags, each tied with a written thank-you tag, to the rehearsal/performance. That was a definite hit.

January 5, 2020, 6:58 PM · Unfortunately all the young soloists we've had in the past few years had a bit of an attitude, as in I'm soloing and you're not kind of attitude. I always felt a little humility would be nice to see for once.
January 5, 2020, 9:12 PM · Susan Agrawal wrote:

"We've had him write thank you notes to the conductor/orchestra/coordinator after invited performances, as well as make sure to thank them in person after the performance."

Good job, Mom! We teach our children to be courteous, polite, and humble.

We teach them to always thank their teachers (violin/piano/ballet/karate), after every lesson. We also have them send thank you notes to their teachers and others when it calls for it.

January 5, 2020, 9:16 PM · If you send a physical thank-you, consider sending an emailed one as well, especially if it's an organization that doesn't have a permanent green-room with a bulletin board (i.e freeway philharmonics that share a hall with others, community orchestras etc.). If you do send a physical thank-you, cookies or chocolate are a fantastic idea. :-)
January 5, 2020, 10:40 PM · We do emails and when applicable, we thank the organization and coordinator on social media. My daughter does not enjoy being nervous so we are not seeking more opportunities but it seems like the right thing to do.
January 6, 2020, 7:30 AM · If the organization is a non-profit that does good work, I also think that proper etiquette for making a special opportunity available to your kids includes the parents making a nice donation to the organization.
January 6, 2020, 7:52 AM · Lovely on you both - assuming of course (and I do) that the thank you is sincerely meant and not just to gain further favor.

I would add, however, to be careful not to go too far. As a professor I am often asked to write letters of reference. Sometimes the job/position candidate will also send a present for my efforts. These are a big no-no since if they have any value they can be seen (by anyone watching) as bribes or pay-off. Thus, a letter is great. A donation to the organization, if given in context, is (IMO) not.

January 6, 2020, 8:34 AM · I would not recommend making a donation to the sponsoring organization for exactly the reason Elise mentions. Cookies for the musicians, yes. A monetary gift, no. That could very easily be misinterpreted as a bribe or a payoff.
January 6, 2020, 9:00 AM · Read my post. I wasn't suggesting any "in context pay-off". If the organization is a non-profit that does good work, i.e. makes ends meet through donations, provides scholarships for kids who cannot otherwise afford to participate in an orchestra or chamber music program, etc. I have been grateful for opportunities we've had and for the high degree of professionalism, organization, and personal commitment we've experienced at such events on more than one occasion. Donations are how organizations like this continue to operate and continue make opportunities available to the community.
January 6, 2020, 9:08 AM · Exactly, but donations that could possibly be connected with a performance opportunity are problematic.
January 6, 2020, 9:28 AM · Regardless of how grateful you are and how much you support the non-profit's programs and objectives, clearly you would not include a check with your thank you letter :-).
January 6, 2020, 11:56 AM · There should be absolutely NO association of the donation to the performance opportunity. Money taints everything. If your son performs in April, just do the donation later (much later) and only if you feel the cause is worthy.

One of the things faculty members often receive from students as thank-you gifts are gift cards (usually to coffee shops or local deli-type restaurants). These are problematic because they have defined monetary value. These are funneled to a central office where they are used to help cater staff lunches or for taking a visitor out for a coffee.

Sometimes people ask me why my course syllabus is several pages long. It's because over the years students have done things that I have to prevent them doing in the future -- a list that continues to build the longer I teach. For the very first time, in the Fall of 2019, a student in my class gave me a tin of cookies. Now, I will have to include a statement in my syllabus that says, "Please do not give me a tin of cookies. Lovely though the gesture may be, and as much as I adore freshly baked cookies, I cannot accept gifts of any sort from a student in one of my courses." The story gets better. The next day I told the student that the lemon bars in her cookie collection were particularly tasty. Well, another student overheard that, and pretty soon I was the proud owner of an entire tray of lemon bars from the second student. If you met me you would know that I do not need to be eating a whole tray of lemon bars. They were good lemon bars though.

January 6, 2020, 12:29 PM · My, this took an interesting turn...

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