Whether you live in an apartment, have a newborn baby in the house, or are caring for a sick or elderly parent, keeping noise to a minimum is likely at the top of your priority list. But, at the same time, you want your child to excel at their musical studies, and a major part of that is them being able to practice their instrument. So, what’s a parent to do? If you feel like you’re forced to choose between being a good neighbor and being a good parent, there is some middle ground. With some careful planning and awareness, you can keep your neighbors and family happy while still giving your child what they need to excel at their instrument.
Rely on Technology
Many instruments nowadays come with built-in headphone jacks, allowing your child to plug their instrument directly into an amp and monitor the sound through a pair of headphones. This way, your child can practice their instrument as they please without bothering anyone. Unfortunately, this option is limited to electric guitars, violins, keyboards/pianos, and other instruments with headphone jacks. If your child plays the drums or a brass instrument, headphone jacks aren’t a viable option. Depending on your instrument, you can use other sound dampening methods, like mutes for horns and drum pads for percussion, that can make your child’s playing more “friendly” for your environment. For more insight on preferable methods, speak with your child’s music teacher.
Pay Attention to Time of Day
If you keep your child’s music-making to business hours (9AM-5PM and a little bit later on the weekends), then their playing probably falls within an acceptable noise making time-frame. Most apartments have mandatory “quiet hours” listed in the lease, so take a look at that before planning a time for your child to practice. If you’re friendly with your neighbors, reach out to them and be as accommodating as possible. For example, if your next door neighbor works the graveyard shift, encouraging your child to play while they’re trying to sleep probably isn’t a good idea. In most cases, neighbors will understand the importance of music in your child’s life, and will be more than happy to provide a list of times or days when your child’s practicing won’t bother them.
Think About Room Layout
When it comes to practicing in an apartment or condo, think about the layout of your rooms before deciding where to practice. If your living room is adjacent to your next door neighbor’s bedroom, your living room might not be the best place to practice later at night or earlier in the morning. Ideally, the room you practice in won’t share any walls with neighbors. If you’re a singer, choose a highly upholstered room, or even a large, walk-in closet. This way you can sing freely without having to worry about bothering your neighbors. If you aren’t sure about the exact layout of rooms in your neighbor’s apartment or condo, you can view layouts online, request some information from your leasing office, or better yet, reach out to your neighbor directly. After all, the room you think is a bedroom could actually be an office that’s only used during business hours or on the weekends.
While all the above may work just fine for instruments like the flute or violin, the fact of the matter is that some instruments are just louder than others. If your child plays the drums or the trumpet, you may wish to consider trying to block the sound of your child’s practicing from even reaching your neighbors via soundproofing. Whether you hire a professional company to take care of the soundproofing or do it yourself, the method is the same: place objects of heavy, dense mass between the sound source and your neighbors in order to isolate the two. If you’re taking the DIY approach, there are plenty of temporary soundproofing options available on the market, including foam and door jamb seals. You can even use egg carton-like foam and heavy camping mats until you’re able to find a more permanent and professional solution.
As you can see, with a little preparation and forward thinking, you can keep your neighbors happy while still allowing your child to progress when they practice an instrument. If sound continues to be an issue, and renting a practice space isn’t a viable solution, speak with your child’s music teacher for additional insight. Perhaps they’ll allow your child to practice at school after-hours or during a free period.
If motivation is a problem for your child, learn How to Motivate Your Child to Practice.