What should be the optimal length of a concert?
This morning Robert and I gave a 30 minute concert. My mother complained afterwards that it was too short.
“You whetted everyone’s appetite but didn’t deliver the food. Everyone’s wondering how come it’s over so soon?”
She advised us to get the director of the housing area to organise a full-length concert for us and announce it in the monthly newsletter.
“Mom, why don’t you do that for us?” I suggested.
“I can’t. I’m not your agent.”
That’s why we gave a 30 minute concert. It was not official. One of her neighbours was enthusiastic to have two musicians staying here and slotted us in the time before the weekly luncheon. There were no posters or newsletters or flyers mentioning our concert. Just a word of mouth and a handwritten announcement on the white board in the community room.
Despite that, the upright piano did get tuned. There was a basket for donations. We were each given a fragrant lei around our necks at the beginning and a kiss by the elderly lady who welcomed us.
Just how long should a concert be?
It has nothing to do with the number of people in the audience or the price of the ticket or our own remuneration.
For nursing homes with a high percentage of alzheimer patients, the organisers typically request short concerts with intermissions, e.g. 30 minutes + 15-minute intermission + 30 minutes. 45-minute concerts without intermission are also common. At most 1 hour without intermission is usually the limit.
Intermissions are good opportunities to sell CDs. At house concerts we learned that we shouldn’t be hiding in the back preparing for the second half but actively selling and signing CDs. At one house concert, we learned that people tend to leave right after the concert. Hence, intermissions are vital for CD sales.
When there are no intermissions, for fear of people leaving during the intermission or to adhere to standards or house rules, we are happy giving a 1 hour concert or at most a 1 hour 15 minute concert. Anything more than that would be too much for us and the audience. I do think there is an maximum length of time for which a person can listen attentively without becoming bored, restless, or aching to use the restrooms.
In our experience, it’s nearly impossible to expect elderly residents (of a senior housing area or nursing homes) to buy CDs because they usually 1) don’t carry any cash, 2) don’t have CD players, and 3) don’t want to own anything.
What about gift giving?
Today we received an order for 10 CDs from a doctor in New England who wants to give them away for Christmas. We have only 12 CDs in our possession (leftover from 200 CDs we brought with us on our USA tour), 8 on CDBaby, and 100 stored away in a sealed box in our attic in Utrecht, Netherlands. After that, it will be out of print. We will be working on our next CD “Winter.”
A CD has a maximum duration of 80 minutes playing time which translate to 1 hour 20 minutes. Perhaps that could be an indication of the optimal duration of a concert.