When to clap, why to clap, when to boo, what to do if you can’t stop coughing… We answer some of the most common questions.

So why is clapping at the right point in a concert such a big deal?
Clapping at the wrong time is thought to disrupt the mood and could distract the performers. For example, clapping after each short piece in a song cycle like Winterreisewould be tedious for the audience – as well as breaking the spell cast by Schubert’s dark musings. Similarly, applause between movements of a symphony can destroy the dramatic development or transition the orchestra has worked so hard to create. It’s considered a faux pasto be caught out as a lone clapper – to those around you it may suggest a novice in their midst.

So when shouldyou applaud?
In opera, reserve your “bravos” until the end of an aria and put your hands together at the end of an act. In symphonic or instrumental concerts, the appropriate time is at the end of an entire work. To work out when an unfamiliar piece will conclude, check the program booklet – most will list the movements. You can...