When you start practicing and hear your family members slam their doors :(

September 27, 2017, 8:18 PM · Anyone else experience this during their beginner years? It's very disheartening to say the least =(

Replies (50)

September 27, 2017, 8:21 PM · Doesn't mean you sound bad. You have to admit, the violin is loud.
September 27, 2017, 8:28 PM · no, but in my house, the song "Happy Birthday" has taken on a whole separate subtext (because it happened to be one of the very first things in my very first method book). It is now code for "really really incredibly bad playing".
Edited: September 27, 2017, 8:42 PM · A combination of the following might be helpful for you:

1. Practice mute. The one made by Artino is amazing - it's rubber over metal, so it has the benefits of a heavy metal mute, but the decreased risk of damage of a rubber mute. It will make you so quiet people in the same room might wonder if you're playing (maybe a little hyperbole)

1.a. Can't afford a practice mute? Clothespins on each side of the bridge work quite well in a pinch.

2. Better time your practices. Choose times when no one is home, or no one is engaged in sound sensitive activities (reading, studying, writing, etc).

3. Practice outside, where safe and appropriate.

4. Talk to them about it.

Being new is tough, but eventually it'll be less grating on peoples ears. Once you're past the squeaker stage it's not too bad from a different room.

September 27, 2017, 8:44 PM · Just remind them it could be worse- timpani, saxiphone, accordion, clog dancing, etc....
September 27, 2017, 8:45 PM · Close your own door but don't regularly use a practise mute. You need to hear your tone and intonation in order to work on it. Other people need their own sonic space so don't take it personally.

Cheers Carlo

September 27, 2017, 9:39 PM · One time a family member said, "can you please stop, I can't take it anymore today", so I practiced a little harder. Not that I'm insensitive. But to get past the screeching faster. It must have worked since I haven't had any bad comments in quite a while.

Chin up, all bad playing will pass eventually. A friend of mine practices outside. Her family is really happy about it. Her neighbors, not so much.

September 27, 2017, 9:53 PM · So, I'm a very experienced player that most would call "good" (and some call "great," although probably not here) and my family members don't want to listen to me practice, either. I don't know if that makes you feel any better but, there it is.

Some peoples' ears are just sensitive.

But the main thing is that practice isn't designed to sound GOOD. In fact if you're wasting energy trying to "perform" rather than "practice," then you might take twice as long to get the same result of out a practice session.

September 27, 2017, 10:17 PM · extremely relatable
September 27, 2017, 11:03 PM · When I first started, my family lived in a fourplex with an ER doctor on one side of us, and a classical music administrator of sorts on the other side. The ER doctor said no playing after 10:00pm, and the arts administrator was constantly annoyed with my practicing, yet frequently gave me and my parents tickets to various concerts. Soon, however, no one worried about me, as we eventually got neighbors who threw extremely loud parties almost every weekend, playing either loud rap or house music into the middle of the night. My screeching couldn't compete at that point.
September 27, 2017, 11:26 PM · Dont worry too much about it.
You can play a rehearsal perfectly in your flat and people get annoyed while the same performce will be paid for the next day in the concert hall and people will clap.
Its always a matter of centext. My wife plays piano beautifully, but from time to time it annoys me too.
Just keep on practising. A mute is only an option for some hard fingerings in specific pieces from to to time, not for actually learning the violin and certainly not good for anything bow related.
Maybe ask for some scedule with the people surrounding you.
When we played quarted during my university days I went the very active way: I invited everybody from the flats next to mine to listen to us, bring cookies while we give out coffe and beer.
We had some fun evenings and suddenly as the neighbours were involved it was something positiv.
September 28, 2017, 1:10 AM · I have 3 teenage kids - it happens to me every day! ;-)
I have my practice room in the basement, so there is some distance to the kids rooms, and besides if they are doing homework I can understand that they don't want to hear me working on some difficult passage over and over. I wouldn't want to either if I was preparing something for work the next day.

Sometimes one of them will come and ask me to practice with them instead, so there is a positive aspect also.

This spring I was preparing the Franck sonata for a concert and when the day arrived one of the kids (17) said: "I'm not coming - I heard it a hundred times already"

My mother - when I was a teenager - was much more diplomatic: "That piece you are playing sounds very difficult"

Edited: September 28, 2017, 2:52 PM · Different take on the potential benefits of this... When I started violin, both my kids had graduated from college and had returned home to “stay awhile”. Needles to say to anyone else who has had kids back from school but their day-night habits had become completely unglued while they were living in the dorms. This became quite disruptive to my wife and I with our need for sleep so we could work the next day.

Around this time I took up the violin as an adult, practicing evenings.. Well this action incentivized my adult kids and within six months both miraculously found other places to live and our home life returned to normal. I recommend to all my adult friends who have had kids renest after being away to take up an instrument. If not the violin then the bagpipes.

September 28, 2017, 7:07 AM · It was really discouraging for me growing up as well. I practiced less because of that. Slammed doors -> Discouraged -> Practiced less -> bad sound -> more slammed doors. It's a cycle.

Don't let it get into your head like it did to me. Just keep practicing, and it will get better through the years. :)

September 28, 2017, 7:27 AM · When I was growing up, I was made to practice in the basement with a low drop ceiling as the rest of the house could barely hear my playing. (Now, funnily enough, my mother speaks of missing hearing me practice every day!)

Now... my husband will go to the room at the opposite end of our tiny 650sqft apartment, and put headphones on if the practicing becomes too much. When I first returned, I had to keep the practice room door closed, and my husband would do something noisy - presumably to politely drown out the sounds of my practice sessions. Now, more often than not, he lets me leave my practice room door open (yay for air circulation!), and watches TV in our nearby living room. He said it no longer bothers him (though sometimes he wants quiet, and will go to the other room.) I think what was more upsetting for me, in my early returning months, was when both cats would run as quickly as they could to the opposite end of the apartment and hide until my practice session stopped.

I do try to complete my practice sessions before 9pm, and to have them done (or close to done) before my husband gets home. On the weekends when I have time by myself, I will prioritize practicing over other activities (including cleaning) so that it is less disruptive to my husband.

I personally do not like using practice mutes unless I'm practicing later at night and do not want to disturb my neighbors (who have oddly never once complained about my practicing, I'm very lucky in that regard). I feel that the mute dulls feedback from the violin and bow too much and I need as much feedback as I can get at this stage in the game.

Chin up, you'll get there, be as considerate of others as possible but beyond that don't worry about it! Keep doing what you need to do.

September 28, 2017, 8:50 AM · I think the violin is just go loud for cats. My two always leave the room when I play.
September 28, 2017, 9:15 AM · Thanks for the positive words and humor.

I'm always the last one to get home, so they'll definitely hear me during the weekdays. I understand that I sound bad and that the violin is loud, but they don't have to slam the door either :/ It's ok. I just tell myself that once I get much much better that I won't play for them if they ever ask me to play a piece for them. So bitter lol

I have a mute that I sometimes use later at night or when I get tired of my own terrible playing. I don't play past 9pm. I agree that I don't get the full sound and response with the mute on and I prefer not using it when possible.

Ah the cats! They say that big cats are just like domestic cats. Perhaps violin could be used as protection for safari trips :P

Edited: September 28, 2017, 9:47 AM · Erik made a good point, "if you're wasting energy trying to "perform" rather than "practice," then you might take twice as long to get the same result of out a practice session". Indeed, no point practicing what you already know, hence poorly played snippets of music, repetitions scales and etudes make for very boring and annoying repertoire to listen to; it's not so much screechy noise. I tried a mute, but it affected the development of my intonation and hand frame, so I now play the furthest away in the house I can, and if possible, practice when no one else is home. Conversely, my wife uses earplugs when necessary.
September 28, 2017, 9:43 AM · Practicing is different than playing/performing. No one wants to see a professional juggler break plates.
September 28, 2017, 9:48 AM · I don't know about cats but my birds always enjoyed practicing and would join right in.
Edited: September 28, 2017, 9:53 AM · A funny anecdote on practicing from the Strad magazine: Practising quietly

‘I was practising in a hotel room with a mute at 9.30pm while touring and two elderly ladies knocked on the door to complain about the noise,’ she says. ‘I apologised and promised to stop and they answered: “By the way, we’re very much looking forward to your concert tomorrow.”’
- Julia Fischer

If Julia Fischer can't get a pass, neither can we.

Edited: September 28, 2017, 9:58 AM · My son's labrador retriever seemed to like it very much. Or so I thought. He'd curl around my legs when I practiced the violin during dog-sitting sessions. Then he'd open his mouth and sing. Or howl.
September 28, 2017, 10:04 AM · @Arthur, unfortunately it's more likely that birds may be "shouting" at you to shut up and go away ;)

I've had a dog howl along with my cello playing, whether in sympathy or anguish I'm not prepared to say!

September 28, 2017, 10:07 AM · Easiest solution would be to simply remove all of the doors.
Edited: September 28, 2017, 10:10 AM · I'm sorry to hear that! It is disheartening and I myself have lost students because of their families similar reactions. I have also been in a position as a student where having to worry about my roommates can be stifling to technique development. My suggestion is to schedule a time to practice and talk to your family. Let them know, yes, violin practice is not for sounding good, at any level of advancement. It is for practice. And it is imperative to your development to be able to play loudly and boldly. Hopefully they understand overtime but at least if you let them know it's important to you and you are setting a schedule, they can respect your journey a bit more and make a plan to be out of the house :D Good luck!
September 28, 2017, 10:16 AM · so, this begs the question, is there some cheap and easy way to soundproof a room
September 28, 2017, 10:31 AM · My parents thought it would be better if they stayed quiet and not interfere with my practice. Although I always did sorta feel sad.
September 28, 2017, 11:27 AM · When I was a kid my dog always came in laid down to listen whenever I practiced and he also did that whenever my sister practiced. Our other dog went to the other end of the house.
September 28, 2017, 12:08 PM · I was in the same boat as Carl S, my cat would be asleep on the couch, but would immediately seek refuge in parts distant the moment I opened the viola case. Bloody critics!

The cat went with my ex-wife when we split. I miss that cat.*


* (Just for clarification, the ex and I are still friends, and sadly Tinker the cat has now passed away.)

September 28, 2017, 12:50 PM · When I started playing the fiddle, my dog Sam would lie on the floor at my feet. But when I started playing tenor banjo, he would leave the room.
September 28, 2017, 12:56 PM · Maybe try closing their doors before you start practicing? Then you will know you are getting better when they start opening them instead.
September 28, 2017, 4:37 PM · The dogs my family had would whine and howl the whole time I practiced as a beginner.
September 28, 2017, 4:45 PM · It is hard being an artist...
Edited: September 28, 2017, 7:38 PM · The labrador retriever, if I'm not mistaken, was especially fond of tunes played in the key of E flat, during my occasional dog-sitting sessions. At least, he would howl more loudly.
Edited: September 28, 2017, 7:43 PM · My dachshunds loved barking at the sound of an open A played on a $100 dollar 3/4 instrument with scratch tone.
September 29, 2017, 7:30 AM · Screeching? I don't teach my students to screech! And in technical practice I have the opportunity to make only good sounds. Life is too short to play badly on purpose (it happens anyway..)
September 29, 2017, 7:47 AM · ^
That's why I don't listen to a lot of "new music."
September 29, 2017, 8:03 AM · Family members may shut the doors on you for many different reasons other than bad play/sound. Too loud, too high pitches, too distracting, too repetitive,...
September 29, 2017, 12:02 PM · In college, our access to practice rooms ended @10pm, not helpful for nightowls. I made arrangements with a nearby store to practice there after closing, often ended up sleeping in the back after I was done. A more innocent era? Perhaps. But alternatives to family/neighbour upheaval are imaginatively possible.
Edited: September 29, 2017, 2:10 PM · Never had that problem.

When was a kid, my mom would insist that I practice with the door of my room open she she can hear every note.

Now, my daughter (5 and a half) insists that the sound of my violin is within her audible range when I practice.

October 1, 2017, 6:15 AM · Why not preemptively go around closing their doors and your own when you're going to practice? Also use a practice mute if others are still being bothered. Even first class professionals do that. Consideration and effort goes a long way towards ameliorating the annoyance being expressed by slamming doors, etc.

Most people wouldn't even like being forced to hear professionally played music at their home when they didn't want to, so it's not simply expression of opinion on the quality of performance, which will certainly not get much better without a lot of effort and practice.

Edited: October 1, 2017, 7:15 AM · A practise mute should only be used by those who already have a very mature natural violin sound. Only few amateurs ever achieve that. It is not suitable for learning the violin at all!
All you can do with it is practising fingering, a small fraction of what is needed to play a piece.
October 1, 2017, 1:37 PM · I have a photo on Photobucket of me some years ago playing my violin to an elderly spaniel - a sort of "His Master's Violin" picture. How do I post it in this discussion? There doesn't appear to be a help file here, and it's not immediately obvious how to do it.
October 1, 2017, 2:01 PM · @Trevor go to the photo in photobucket and there will be a list to the right of different copy/paste types to the right, choose/copy the one that starts like this- " October 1, 2017, 2:03 PM · oops - screwed that up -- the one that starts with the, a href
October 1, 2017, 2:48 PM · Jim, after several abortive attempts (and subsequent deletion of the several posts!) I couldn't get the other method to work, so here's the URL instead.


This was taken quite a few years ago, the pooch is no longer with us, and my hair has mysteriously changed color.

Edited: October 1, 2017, 3:56 PM · A couple of years ago I played my violin to a paddock full of horses, about 6 of them, and they all came over to the fence to watch me with well-mannered curiosity. Interesting how animals respond. The family isn't usually that polite.
Edited: October 1, 2017, 4:23 PM · maybe this will work:

 photo His_masters-violin.jpg

Edited: October 1, 2017, 7:59 PM · Very thoughtful & expressive! Reminds me of our labrador when he was about to sing (howl?).
October 2, 2017, 6:09 AM · Jim, many thanks for helping out with getting my photo on screen! I've looked at the metadata (Ctrl+Shift+i in Windows 10) and I think I understand how you did it.

In case anyone is wondering, at that time I would have been playing folk music - I was nowhere near ready for playing violin in orchestra.

October 4, 2017, 6:44 AM · the dog is quiet because Trevor plays without shoulder rest :-)

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