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CAPTAIN SENSIBLE | In Defense Of Going To Concerts Alone

By Michela Comparey on October 3, 2015

Alone-in-Theatre
Why going to a concert solo just might be the best thing ever.

In 2014, the National Endowment for the Arts (the American equivalent of the Canada Council for the Arts), released findings from a study about how and why Americans participate in certain arts events. The first report looked at what motivates and prevented people from attending arts events such as concerts. While most of the major barriers are pretty standard—not enough time, too far away, etc.—one listed barrier stuck out: no one to go with.

Twenty-two percent of survey respondents said that not having a concert companion was enough to prevent them from going to see a performance they were interested in. At a time when arts presenters are trying to fill seats, it would be beneficial for everyone if we broke down the stigma against going to concerts by yourself.

Granted, we enjoy going to concerts with other people for a reason. Going by yourself can feel a little bit awkward; limited seating means sitting very close to strangers, and it can sometimes be disappointing to experience a magical concert and not have anyone to share it with. But going to a concert alone has many advantages. Sitting in the audience of a great concert, you are sharing the experience with hundreds of other people, regardless of if you know them or not. Perhaps in Canada (or Toronto at least), we are too polite and often wary of friendly strangers who talk to us. One of my greatest musical experiences was seeing Die Walküre in Berlin. I went by myself, and during intermission the guy sitting next to me struck up a conversation. He was also alone and spoke very little English, but we managed to communicate our mutual admiration for the production.

In September 2015, the New York Times published an article suggesting that disconnecting from our phones and devices in the concert hall could be a selling point for classical music performances. It argued that very few spaces are left in our society where we are expected to disconnect from the online world. People seek out time to “unplug”, whether going up north to a cottage or giving themselves intentional off-the-grid time. In the same vein, could we not consider going to a concert a much-needed opportunity for some introspective alone time?

Some practical reasons to go to concerts alone are also pretty compelling. You’re less likely to argue over the armrest with a stranger. You never have to wait for someone to go through the long bathroom line, and no one will judge you for having two Häagen-Dazs bars at intermission. It’s also easier to navigate crowds by yourself, and if you don’t invite anyone, you don’t need to agonise over if they are enjoying themselves or not. The freedom to buy tickets at the last minute and attend a performance on the spur of the moment can also make attending a concert much more exhilarating. If a rush ticket isn’t guaranteed, getting one can feel like winning the jackpot, and you’ll enjoy the performance that much more.

Whatever the reasons, the more we go to concerts by ourselves, the less weird it will be for everyone. Then maybe that twenty-two percent of people won’t have a reason not to go to concerts after all.

 

Michela Comparey

Michela Comparey reluctantly picked up the tuba at age 13. Thanks to competition with her brother who also played the tuba, she stuck with it and has since earned a Masters in Tuba Performance and Pedagogy from Memorial University. Her musical career so far has included playing with numerous ensembles including the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Canadian Artillery Band (among others in the Canadian Forces), the Weston Silver Band, and several chamber groups.She is a co-founder of Euba, a professional tuba-euphonium quartet.

Michela Comparey

Michela Comparey reluctantly picked up the tuba at age 13. Thanks to competition with her brother who also played the tuba, she stuck with it and has since earned a Masters in Tuba Performance and Pedagogy from Memorial University. Her musical career so far has included playing with numerous ensembles including the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Canadian Artillery Band (among others in the Canadian Forces), the Weston Silver Band, and several chamber groups.She is a co-founder of Euba, a professional tuba-euphonium quartet.
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