We often forget to talk about this aspect of stage etiquette until we’re about to walk out to sing.
Sometimes when I want to give the chorus a small singing break during a gig, I ask a quartet to sing a couple of songs.
When a quartet (or soloist or a small group from the chorus) steps out to sing, a chorus member’s job is to keep the audience’s attention on the action, and by their own attention, create excitement about the quartet’s performance.
So here are the rules
1. Watch the quartet. Don’t let your eyes wander away to the ceiling, the floor, your fingernails, or to someone in the audience that you recognize. Your listening is just as much a part of your performance as is your singing. Please don’t fiddle with your hair or glasses, blow your nose, or chat with your neighbour.
2. See post #373. Your lips need to be relaxed and slightly open. Otherwise you’ll look annoyed or bored – which will draw attention away from the performers. If you look annoyed, the audience will start imagining that there’s an interesting story there, and get distracted. Even if you’ve heard the quartet’s song a thousand times, you need to create the impression that you’re enjoying yourself. If nothing else, gratitude is in order – they’re letting you take a break.
3. When they finish their song, do not applaud!! Smiling and beaming with pride is appropriate. The quartet is part of your group and applauding them reads to an audience as if you’re congratulating yourselves. Clapping is the audience’s job. Performing is yours.