Practicing Without Disturbing the Peace
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One of the biggest concerns parents have when considering private lessons for their child is disturbing the neighbors.
The last thing you want is an ongoing war with the neighbors over your child practicing their music at home. There are other situations where noise level could be a problem as well, such as when there’s a napping baby in the house or when other young children are trying to do homework. If a parent works from home, they will need a quiet work environment, as well.
Your child will need to practice his instrument every day if you want him or her to excel. But, what can you do to make sure your child doesn’t disturb the peace?
With some smart planning, there are several things you can do to keep the neighbors and other family members happy, but still give your child the practice time he or she needs to be successful.
Communicate with Your Neighbors
The best place to start is by communicating with your neighbors. You might be surprised to find out how accommodating your neighbors can be.
They might even love music and enjoy hearing your child play at almost any time. No matter how accommodating they are, you should be as considerate of their schedules as you possibly can.
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For example, if your neighbor works all night and sleeps all day, make sure your child doesn’t practice first thing in the morning when your neighbor is just getting to sleep.
If your child does his practicing in the evening instead, your neighbor will most likely be up, getting ready for work, and shouldn’t be bothered by the noise.
Practice at Appropriate Times of Day
Another approach is to keep your child’s practice times to appropriate hours. Practicing during business hours (9AM-5PM and maybe a little later on the weekends) is a good rule of thumb. That should work fine for most folks.
Also, if you live in an apartment building, there may be rules posted about mandatory “quiet hours”. Plan your practice times accordingly so you don’t run into trouble with your apartment building’s manager.
Choose Your Practice Room Carefully
If you live in apartment or condo, consider the layout of the rooms carefully before deciding where your child should practice. Don’t have your child practice in a room that borders your neighbor’s bedroom (at least not when they’re likely to be sleeping), for example.
If you have a room that doesn’t share any walls with the neighbors, that would be even better. If you’re not sure of the layout of your neighbor’s apartment, the best way to find out is to knock on the door and ask.
Good communication can prevent a lot of problems in a situation like this.
Consider Doing Some DIY Soundproofing
There are a lot of things you can do to help soundproof a room without a major remodel. Start by hanging heavy, insulated drapes over the door and windows. Use a bolster to muffle the noise going under the door. For walls, consider hanging a large, heavy rug over the wall to absorb some of the sound.
Even better, put a large bookcase against the wall and fill it with books to block and absorb some of the noise. In fact, any large, upholstered furniture you can put in the room will help to absorb some of the sound.
If your concern is neighbors or other family members on the floor below you, put a thick foam pad and area rug on the floor of your practice room.
The idea here is to place objects that are heavy and dense in between you and your neighbors to help absorb and block the noise. Even egg-carton like foam (used for mattress pads) can be tacked to the walls or ceiling in a pinch.
If the practice area is small, like a walk-in closet, you could really do a good job of soundproofing it without spending a ton of money.
Use a Practice Mute
Talk to your child’s teacher about the possibility of using a practice mute. Practice mutes are available for most instruments, and they will definitely cut down on the noise. Practice mutes alter the tone of the instrument though, so they may not be great for those just learning.
Wear Headphones While Practicing
If your child is learning the keyboard, electric guitar, or some other electronic instrument, wearing headphones during practice time is the perfect solution.
Arrange for an Alternate Practice Location
Sometimes, practicing in a different location is an option. Talk to your child’s music teacher to see if he or she could practice in the music room after school.
Or, maybe you have a family member that has a place your child could practice that won’t disturb others. If your child is taking private lessons, talk to his or her instructor to see if they have any additional ideas.
If you live in a condo or apartment building, talk to management to see if there’s a community room your child could use or rent during practice times.
Many apartments and condos also have detached garages that could be set up as a practice area. You might even be able to rent a practice room at a rehearsal studio or music store at an hourly rate.
Pricey, But Effective, Options
If money isn’t a concern for you and your child is very serious about learning their instrument, there are some other options you might consider.
You could have a room in your home professionally soundproofed, or you could purchase professional soundproofing equipment and install it yourself.
Or, you could build or purchase a sound booth for your home. Believe it or not, many instruments are also available in silent versions that can be used for practicing at any time without disturbing neighbors or family members.
As you can see, with a little creativity, communication, and planning, you can keep your family and neighbors happy while allowing your child to excel at their instrument.
Vincent Reina began teaching piano lessons as a high school student, and has continued to do so ever since. He received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from Purchase Conservatory. He then earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching Music from Manhattanville College. Today, Vincent is co-founder of Music To Your Home, a New York City based music school. He’s the proud winner of many significant piano competitions, including the Westminster Choir College Artistic Excellence in Piano Award.
Vincent on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vincent-reina-0959a86b