Robert Estrin - piano expert

Dealing with a Loud Audience

Interesting tips to deal with a noisy, inattentive audience

In this video, Robert gives you a way to deal with an audience that doesn't seem to be giving your performance the attention it deserves.

Released on October 23, 2013

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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

Hi. I'm Robert Estrin here at and with a subject, how to deal with a loud audience. You know as performers, we all have a certain amount of ego and if you go out and people aren't paying attention, it's pretty insulting. So how do you deal with such a thing? Well, this is not such an easy question and there are different facets to it we're going to cover today.

The first thing you have to realize is what sort of performance is this, anyway? Because they're not all the same. For example, if you were to go to a classical violin recital and you went to the performing arts center, and there were people who were loud, this is one sort of situation which is totally apathetical to the experience because after all it's destroying the musical expression for the whole audience. But, other times there might be a wonderful performer at the mall playing solo flute or maybe there's a party and a great jazz player. Well you can't expect people to all stop and be quiet in those settings. A rock band actually might thrive on having the audience be very vocal.

So you have to understand the context of the performance and don't be upset with an audience if they are there, for example, at a party and they're eating and they're drinking. You can't expect them to not be talking with their friends. So you have to kind of put your ego at the door and realize that's a job, not really just a musical expression.

Now what about those situations, where it's an actual concert and you have some people who are loud in the audience. How can you address this? There are a number of ways. One is confrontational. You could actually, as a performer, look directly in the area where the noise is coming from and try to intimidate the audience members. This may work or may backfire. It's hard to say. And the last thing in the world you want to do is make the distraction of the audience even bigger by making some kind of dynamic between the factions of the audience and yourself.

Another method that I really love to utilize in a situation like that is when you come to a quiet section and people are making noise, play even quieter. That's right. As counter intuitive as it seems, it draws people in because it gets quieter and the people around who can't hear it, they'll be incensed and they will shut those people up in short order because they are there to listen to the music. So sometimes, saying things quietly makes people pay more attention. So it is with your music.

So you can choose. It depends upon the dynamic. All audiences are different. All playing experiences are unique. So, realize the situation that you are in and what is appropriate. If you have some member or members, you don't want to start a feud with your audience and get into it with them but if it's just one annoying person, you might get people to help you to collude with you to quiet people down so the rest of the audience can enjoy it. And that quiet playing, try it some time. You will get people on your side and people will have to be quiet to listen to you. After all, that's why they're there, right?

All right. Thanks for joining me. Robert Estrin here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Margaret on April 18, 2014 @5:53 am PST
Elderly organist at Baptist church played "The Beer Barrel Polka" at offertory time due to noise/irreverent behavior, talking over instruments, etc, where I formerly was pianist. Following suit, I played "Stairway to Heaven" (by Led Zeppelin) 2 weeks later after issue came up in study class, and was complemented on such a "soothing, prayerful tune"...glad I didn't choose "Immigrant Song." Some folks are just rude...might as well laugh about it!
Robert - host, on April 18, 2014 @9:30 pm PST
You're right! You have to have the right frame of mind for the situation at hand. Not only that, but choosing the right music to play at a performance is critical. It is a real disservice to play overly sophisticated music to a younger or less experienced audience. You must always strive to reach people with your music by speaking a language they can relate to.
HiremBig * VSM MEMBER * on October 26, 2013 @10:19 am PST
Thank you, I was surprised that you're wife plays a flute. I also started playing my flute after 30yrs. of letting it set. But it is comming back quickly, so older people can play it if they want to make the effort. I play a Emerson and a Pearl. All silver, what kind does your wife play, you do not have to answer that, I was just curious. Thankyou for all the info you give out over the air, it help probably more than you think.
Robert Estrin - host, on November 15, 2013 @4:28 pm PST
Florence plays a Powell flute and also has a Haynes. She has a collection of flutes of all sizes in her Florence Family of Flutes which you can learn about on her website
HiremBig * VSM MEMBER * on October 23, 2013 @10:37 am PST
Some music say return to bridge, but I see bridge written no where on the music, could you explain that one, and also what in the world is a fake book.
Robert Estrin - host, on October 23, 2013 @6:07 pm PST
There is a world of music with a language all its own. I will be covering how to read a lead sheet in a future video. A fake book contains lead sheets of songs. These are skeletal representations of the music with the melody line and chord symbols.

As for going to the bridge in a song, most popular music including rock, pop and jazz are organized with sections referred to as verse, chorus and bridge. The bridge is usually a unique section somewhere towards the end of the song.
Debora A. Holling on October 23, 2013 @4:59 am PST
my issue is when the audience talks during the overture or entr'act of a musical and then forget to stop talking when the lights come up and the curtain opens. All of the performers are there to entertain, not to be a backdrop to people "catching up" with one another. The ball game behavior at a live musical performance drives me nuts!
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