Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Deal with Applause Between Movements

An answer to a common question affecting classical music performances

In this video, Robert tackles a common situation in classical music performances: your audience applauding between movements.

Released on July 30, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to and I am Robert Estrin with a great show for you today, how to deal with applause between movements.

That's why classical music is very structured. For those who are uninitiated, it can be quite confusing. You go to a concert and you have an exciting piece, and then nobody claps. Or, maybe you start to clap and you realize you're the only one clapping. How embarrassing.

Well, as a performer you want to kind of give your audience clues as to where they're supposed to clap so it doesn't cause this uncomfortable three or four people clapping and the rest of the people looking at them with disdain. Or, if the whole audience claps, we'll get to that in a moment, how to deal with that. Because sometimes a less sophisticated audience might have no idea, and you don't want to make that into a bad situation.

But, first, how to avoid it altogether. Last night I happened to perform a concert where I played the Schumann G minor sonata. It's a four movement work. The first movement ends with such a ferocious finale to that movement you'd think it was the end of the whole piece.

Well, there are two ways to approach this. I'm going to show you one way that if you played that first movement like this, I don't care who's in the audience, some people will clap if you end it like this. You're guaranteed to get applause. There will be a faction of that audience that will just get on their feet, because it looks like it's the end. It's so exciting.

Watch how you can end the piece playing it exactly the same way but indicating through body language that there is more to come.

You can seamlessly go into the second movement and create the continuity of the piece so that people can experience it as a whole, much like scenes of a play are different sections that are part of the same work.

That is how to approach it. Now, if the worst case scenario happens and people just start clapping, what do you do? Do you get up and take a bow right in the middle of a piece? I don't like to do that. But, I do like to acknowledge the audience. So, if I ended that piece and a bunch of people started clapping, this is how I would handle it.

I'd acknowledge with a nod, a smile. Let them know there's more, but thanking them. That's my personal way.

Maybe some of you have other ideas how you approach this. I've seen some performers actually hold up their hand. Stop! This isn't the end.

I try to be ingratiating to the audience. I don't want to insult them. I want to thank them, but I also want to be kind to the rest of the people who are listening who are getting engaged and want to hear the rest of the piece before showing their appreciation with applause.

I hope this has been helpful for you. I'm Robert Estrin here at and I'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

John Anker * VSM MEMBER * on May 16, 2018 @12:39 pm PST
We know you meant to say “Watch how you can end the movement” instead of “Watch how you can end the piece”.

As always, thank you for the excellent videos.
Chaim on July 30, 2014 @7:27 am PST
I play the violin and with the violin and the end of a first movement in a Concerto, tuning is usually required so there is no "immediate" indication "hey I am not done yetSmiley Face
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