Greetings to All from a very cold wet December Scotland – rather like our summer.
To describe myself as a violinist is a bit like Humpty Dumpty who makes words mean whatsoever he wants them to mean. When it is explained to you kindly folks that I recently had a couple of violin lessons, never having even whistled a tune before, to see if I had any talent, I don’t, you’ll understand.
But I’m hooked and bought a violin on which I make ‘sounds.’ I’m looking for some advice, please.
I really don’t want to drive my neighbours crazy and have found a local community centre where I can rent, for a very modest fee, a room to practice – but only for 1 hour per day. However, as a bit of an insomniac (I’ve had this even before I started listening to my playing violin [I believe the best cure for this is a good night’s sleep]) I have plenty of time on my hands and could practice late evening and into the wee small hours.
So, out of consideration for my neighbours I bought a heavy rubber mute to dampen down my noise – correction – ‘sounds.’ But although it does lessen the sounds it’s not achieving what I hoped for, namely, to play in something just above a soft whisper.
Will some kind fellow violinist please offer ‘sound’ suggestions which can achieve my needs and especially as I’m very modestly aiming to play at the Royal Albert Hall in the New Year. Talking of which a very happy New Year to all.
More weight on the bridge is what it takes. They make brass practice mutes that will damp the sound even more.
I have compared a chrome-plated metal mute and an "Artino" plastic-coated metal mute. They are both much more effective than a rubber practice mute. It is said that the all-metal mute is more effective than an Artino, but I didn't notice much difference. I'd recommend the Artino since it's cheaper and less likely to scratch the violin.
The Stentor 1173 Tonwolf Mute is available from amazon.co.uk and looks as if it would silence bagpipes
Go out on the moor and listen to yourself without a mute every good-weather day that comes along! True, the heavier the mute, the less sound - but it totally destroys the point of playing a string instrument - to have 95% of the sound damped.
Yamaha "silent" electric violins were originally developed for Japanese players in that high population density country, so they could play without disturbing their neighbors. Those Yamaha violins are not as subtle in their response as an acoustic, but they could conceivably solve your problem, at least in the beginning stages.
Practicing with a mute is a great learning process . The mute takes away a lot of the frequency characteristics of your instrument so enables you to develop technique not warped by the inadequacies of your instrument.
Please don't stuff your violin with anything. Get a metal practice mute, and periodically take your neighbors homemade baked goods and/or fine wines. ;-)
If you stuff toilet tissue (or anything else) into a violin there's a high likelihood that you'll dislodge the soundpost while doing so, and probably more so when retrieving said tissue later. A soundpost down is a serious matter and the very first thing to do if that happens, no matter how it's caused (I had my bridge snap in two without warning a few weeks ago when practising), is to let the strings down immediately to take the pressure off the top plate before it gets damaged. Then you take the violin to a luthier (no-one else!) for the very skilled job of resetting the soundpost.
Sacrifice the LR of your apartment and build an insulated practice booth inside.
You can buy a $60 electric violin on ebay that will be quiet enough for you. I had to put a cork under the fingerboard on mine to keep the neck from collapsing. The $100 electric violins will survive better. They really do work, are quiet and fun,,,but I much prefer to get loud with my acoustics.
Someone already mentioned the Yamaha “silent” line of violins. I thought I’d mention the YEV line. They are extremely quiet as well. They can be played unplugged if needed, or you can plug in electronics and use headphones. I have the YEV-104 in the natural finish, and I love it,
Thanks to everyone for suggestions - appreciated - and with special thanks to Andrew but if I rely on good weather to "get out on the moor" to practice I think I shall not get in much if any practice unless I also erect a large tent!
I have a Yamaha YEV-104 too. The volume without plugging it into anything is pretty much exactly the same as my acoustic violin with one of those heavy plated brass mutes that have already been mentioned. No, you would not hear it through a wall. (Unless maybe you pressed your ear against the wall.) ;)
I was going to say that as well: an electric “silent” violin is almost exactly as loud as an acoustic violin using a heavy mute.
I live in a small apartment in a large city, filled with folks who are neighbors that rarely speak to each other in passing, and I practice for at least an hour a day. I KNOW my neighbors can hear my practicing, but I will typically stop by 9pm (latest). If I hear banging on the shared wall that seems like "expressed irritation", I'll either stop practicing or put my (much hated) practice mute on. They have not threatened murder, or even complained to me or my landlord, and did not even when I first returned to playing. Frankly, I am surprised by this.
Another option for a practice mute is to put several performance mutes on together. Mute designs vary, and some are more limited in how many will fit, but my personal favorite, the Heifetz mute, will allow you to put as many as five on at a time. Then the muting is significant, and you can adjust it in subtle degrees by using any number up to five.
Well Mark - and our other friends who kindly gave their input - this is going to sound totally crazy ... but...
I can't look.
I am curious about how it went with the Royal Albert Hall performance in the New Year.
Is it possible to practise while they're out at work? Might be a useless suggestion if you also work during the day...
If you leave one end of the toilet tissue hanging out one of the ff holes, it can come in handy for wiping your nose, or for other toilet tissue emergencies. The violin makes a very elegant dispenser. I may mount one on my bathroom wall.
Thanks for the latest input including from David who in suggesting the use of toilet tissue has obviously heard the 'quality' of my 'musical' output. Appreciated :-)
If you are working to grow as a musician, I would agree with soundproofing. As another person who likes practicing late at night, I understand the dilemma of not bothering others around you, but using a mute prevents you from training your ear. A mute will dampen the vibrations and alter the tone of your instrument. Even if intonation and rhythm are the first things you want to work on, your ear is being trained every time you practice. I personally get joy from hearing the tone and nuances in my sound, and I'm glad that my first teacher taught me to hear the ring in the sound very early on in my learning. I think if you put that much work into learning your instrument, you shouldn't hinder your progress by not actually hearing what you play.
I agree that it's not a good idea to use a mute all the time -- mainly because the strings don't vibrate as much so don't give you the same feeling and response. However, muted practice is much better than nothing. Here's an article which mentioned various options and some artists' preferences:
Every considering sound-proofing your room? Most of the sound escape through windows and doors.
Hannah, I'm very pleased to hear that you get joy from listening to the music you create - you wouldn't get that emotion from listening to me. And I very much agree with you about training the ear and even at this early stage when I'm listening to real music being played - and not my scratching, crunching, squeals - I'm learning to pick out the notes. That in itself gives me a certain level of enjoyment.
Sorry I should have mentioned that one should be careful not to damage the F holes when retrieving the tissue that you've stuffed in the instrument . This violinist is a beginner presumably playing a violin that is not valuable . When handling an instrument you must be sensitive , but I can tell that neither of you have ever stuffed a violin with tissue the idea that one would dislodge the sound post is preposterous .
Well of course I have never stuffed a violin with tissue. The idea is preposterous.
To follow up on the Artino-- I'm finding that it does quite well in a dorm room or while warming up in a rehearsal hall.
I use toilet paper to clean and polish my violins, much easier than coming up with cotton rags
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