World Choir Games Flanders 2023

Why do some audience members insist on sitting at the back of concerts?

  • [The views expressed in this blog are from my personal experiences from 25 years of leading non-auditioned community choirs in the UK, as well as adult singing workshops. My focus is on teaching by ear using a repertoire of songs from traditions across the globe. Your experiences may differ from mine, so do feel free to leave a comment and let's begin a conversation! A version of this article first appeared as a post on my blog From the Front of the Choir]

    Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor venue, unless there are allocated seats there will always be a few audience members who insist on sitting as far away as possible.



    They sit there straining to hear and see what’s going on. Why on earth do they do it?


    [Spoiler alert: I don’t know the answer!]

    We had our annual summer Singing Safari performance outdoors last weekend. There is a seating area at the edge of the purpose-built performance space, then a grassy bank stretches up and away.

    The audience mostly decided to sit spread out wide over the grassy bank with loads of people right at the back. It made it very hard for me to speak to them and there was no focus for the singers.

    Whenever we perform in a church there is always a handful of people who sit way, way back. They are usually older and almost always come up to me in the interval to say they can’t hear what I’m saying. I suggest they come and sit nearer the front as there are plenty of spaces. “No, no”, they say, “we’re fine where we are.”

    What is going on here?

    I must admit I don’t really have an answer.

    Several possibilities occur to me:

    • people are scared there might be audience participation
    • people like to sit in the same seats every time
    • people think if they sit further back they can see the whole choir
    • people are worried in case they need to make a quick exit

    But whatever the reason, it means they probably won’t hear us very well and it’s harder for me and the choir to have a coherent focus.

    So over to you:

    • why do people do this, and more importantly,


    • what can be done to stop it?

    Any and all suggestions very gratefully received!




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    Chris Rowbury

    Monthly Music Roundup:

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