April 09, 2015
How to Practice an Instrument Without Disturbing the Peace
If you live in an apartment, have a newborn or care for elderly parent, managing practice noise is a priority. You want your child to excel at their musical studies. And consistent practice is a major part. 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’s 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 practice their instrument without disturbing the peace.
Rely on Technology
Many instruments come with built-in headphone jacks. These allow your child to plug their instrument directly into an amp and monitor the sound through a pair of headphones. Your child can practice their instrument as much as they please without bothering anyone. Unfortunately, this option is limited to electric guitars, violins, keyboards/pianos, and other instruments with headphone jacks. But fortunately, there are great options for practice headphones for under $50.
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. Mutes for horns and drum pads for percussion 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), you shouldn’t have too many problems. Most apartments have mandatory “quiet hours” listed in the lease, so take a look at that before planning your child’s practice routine. If you’re friendly with your neighbors, reach out to them and be as accommodating as possible.
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 many will be happy to provide a list of times when your child’s practicing won’t bother them.
Think About Room Layout
When it comes to practicing in an apartment, think about room layouts before deciding where to practice. If your living room is adjacent to your next door neighbor’s bedroom, it might not be the best place to practice at night or early 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 the above works fine for instruments like the flute or violin, some instruments are just louder than others. If your child plays the drums or the trumpet, consider blocking the sound from 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 soundproofing 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.
With a little preparation and forward thinking, you can keep your neighbors happy while still allowing your child to practice their instrument. If sound continues to be an issue, 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.