It's true, babies can do it, and well. But clapping is more diverse than you might think. Is it appropriate to clap after the allegro in a Mozart concerto? How about after a sermon in church? And what about clapping during a poetry reading? Learn to clap the right way and at the right time.
Part 1 of 2: Clap techniques
Step 1. Learn the basics
Open your hands and clap your palms together, fingers pointing up. Do this hard enough to get a good loud-sounding sound, but not so hard that it hurts your hands.
Some people clap by slapping the fingers of one hand against the palm of the other. Do what's easiest for you
Step 2. Clap like a king
You know the moment when the king comes out of his castle and briefly applauds his loyal subjects in style? That's what you're going for. A restrained slap can be done by tapping your palm with the first two fingers. It should make very little noise, giving the impression that you're clapping more than you're actually contributing to the group.
Step 3. Clap without your hands
Getting hands-on is not necessarily the intention in all cultures or situations. Learn to use other claps so that you can celebrate appropriately in all situations.
- Stamping your feet is a common way of applauding in some camps and at some sporting events. It creates a thunderous rumble that can be quite intimidating and fun.
- Tapping your knuckles on the table after a lecture used to be common in some boarding schools, as opposed to clapping.
- Clap or cut? The cliché of beret-wearing hipsters clapping or snapping at each other's poems in jazzy cafes is a cliché based on an outdated stereotype from the 1940s. If you snap your fingers while reading a poem, you're probably the only one. It's like yelling "Freebird" at a rock concert.
Step 4. Clap silently
In situations where it is inappropriate to make noise, or where the audience is mainly hard of hearing or deaf, the common method of clapping is to lift your hands with your palms facing away from you, and move your fingers.
Sometimes referred to as "sparkling," it is also used to agree with a speaker at consensus meetings, Quaker meetings, or other events where speaking is not allowed
Step 5. Clap slowly
Slow clapping starts off slow and gradually builds up to thunderous applause. Start by clapping no more than once every two seconds and wait for more people to join you gradually. Accelerate gradually.
Slow clap can often mean different things. Traditionally, slow clapping has been considered a way of denouncing someone rather than cheering, but now it's considered a kind of wink or an ironic celebration of something dramatic, almost "epic." For example, you could slowly applaud your brother after he finally cleaned his bedroom
Part 2 of 2: Clap at the right time
Step 1. Wait to clap until you hear clap
Clapping can be a great way to show your appreciation, but it can also be rude if you clap at the wrong time. In certain situations it will be obvious when to clap, but other times it will be less obvious. Not sure when to clap? The best way to avoid an awkward situation is to wait to clap until you hear applause and then join in.
- Use the volume of people clapping around you to adjust your own volume. Match your style of clapping to the rest of the crowd.
- Is it appropriate to clap after a soloist in church? After a good movie? After a solo during a concert? It will change in every situation. Go with what is happening around you.
Step 2. Clap to celebrate outstanding achievements
The most common goal and moment for applause is when something big has just happened in public that deserves to be celebrated. Speeches, athletic events, and concerts are all common situations to applaud in.
- Athletic achievements, or great performances, are often rewarded with applause in many cultures. In other cultures, they may be looked down upon for exaggerated displays of emotion, but when people are clapping, it's probably a safe bet that you don't look out of place.
- Most people applaud songs during a performance of any kind, as well as when performers enter and exit the stage.
- At public lectures, it is customary to welcome a speaker to the podium and congratulate him or her at the end of a speech or performance. Depending on the occasion, it is usually uncommon to clap in the middle of most performances unless so directed by the performer. Sometimes you are also asked to clap along, or to encourage one of those present. Follow the instructions.
Step 3. Stop clapping when it starts to fade out
Once the applause starts to fade, it's okay to stop clapping. Clapping isn't an opportunity to interrupt a performance, it's an opportunity to celebrate. Be quiet with the crowd and don't act contrary.
Step 4. Applaud at the end of a concert to ask for an encore
It is also common to clap as part of audience participation in some music events or concerts. If the performance was particularly good, continue clapping and try to encourage the performer to come back for an extra song or routine. At the very least, you can still expect a bend.
As long as you're tactful, clapping to the beat is a common occurrence at concerts
Step 5. Applaud when cheered
If for some reason you're cheered on stage, clapping along with all the spectators can be a beautiful, humble-looking maneuver, if done correctly. Bow your head to acknowledge the thanks and then start clapping along with everyone. If it takes too long, signal to stop and start your acknowledgments.
Always thank the audience for every applause you get. It is also customary to applaud other attendees. For example, if you're giving a big speech and your thesis advisor is present, you may be able to honor that person with a round of applause
Step 6. Be careful about clapping during classical music
The rules for clapping during classical music performances depend on the venue, the group of musicians playing, the director, and the piece. It is usually only customary to applaud between individual pieces, and in some cases between certain parts of a longer piece. In some cases it is only appropriate to applaud to welcome the performer on stage and to clap at the end of the performance.
- Check the program for specific clapping instructions, or wait until you hear other people clapping to be sure.
- In Mozart's era, it was common for crowds to be more disruptive. Particularly moving passages would cause the audience to burst into applause while the musicians were still playing.
- Many people attribute the newer attitude to applause to Wagner, whose directions to avoid summoning the players to Parsifal might have confused some concertgoers with the idea that absolute silence was essential.
Step 7. Clap after the music in some churches
Traditionally, choral music is not applauded and enjoyed in rapt and contemplative silence. In contrast, in some modern churches it is very common to applaud a performance after giving it. In the Pentecostal churches, clapping is part of the sermon. Every church will be different, so be vigilant and go with the flow. Don't be the first to clap in the church, but join in when you hear the happy sound.
There are many ways to clap, depending on the occasion. Clapping makes people happy, an enthusiastic action that comes naturally when we are happy or happy with something we are proud of, or that has been done by someone else
- If you are in an audience and everyone is clapping, stop at the right time and don't continue clapping after everyone has stopped.
- Don't clap during inappropriate situations, such as when applause would be annoying or distracting.