When the world seems to against you practicing.
March 19, 2013 at 7:50 PM
This very moment, my cellphone clock displayed 02.31 AM. you're reading it right. it's very late. yet because of the long nap i took earlier, i couldn't sleep. i finished a book of 352 pages which i started around 5 hours ago and i'm still wide awake. then, looking across my room, i saw my violin case. i decided to practice. i pulled out my scale book and Wohlfahrt op. 74 etude.
To inform you of my 'nest', it's a rented room in a small house i shared with 6 others occupants who are all university student. the walls are made of wood so when my neighbours are talking on their phone or simply turning on their mp3 on cellphone, i can hear them all. vice versa. i don't want to bother anyone so late, so i have to find an idea.
let see. my wooden mute can't damp the violin sound enough. so i saw my spare bow. which i haven't put a rosin at all. i called it my 'silent bow'. months ago, i found that if you don't rosin a bow, it will not be totally silent. instead, it would produce a very small sound. like a whisper. not loud enough for my neighbours to notice (or at least i hope so) but enough for me to hear myself playing. the bow become slippery, though. make the bowing trickier. but since my practicing spot had been taken recently (12th floor of my campus' parking building which was recently turned into labs for faculty of biotechnology), i don't have many choice. it's either i practice at my room in silent or nothing at all. i found that, when you desperately want to practice, you'll eventually find a way!
In my opinion, one of deadly sin for a musician is not to practice. I myself haven't been able to touch my violin much this month. but this is the best i can do. so people, i just want to tell you. practicing is important. moreover in crowded and competitive universe as string instrument world. be creative :)
i hope you can share me how you guys practice when it seems impossible. :D
You have to take your violin and find a room somewhere in the university. Look for empty class rooms. If you look hard enough, you will find a place to practice. Us musicians have to stick together. :)
I'm not in such a serious situation but I do have irritable neighbors in my apartment complex. In order to remedy it I tried various electric violins but was disappointed until I got a Bridge Aquila. I liked the fact that it supported my chinrest and Wolf shoulder rest with no problem so I was able to have the same feeling holding it as my acoustic.
However this does make some noise(like a violin with a mute on).
Usually what I do is turn on the TV to drown out any noise that it generates and listen on my headphones. It's not ideal but better than no practice at all.
Oh :) Tell me about it! I am very lucky to have housemates that put up with normal-volume practicing during the day (mostly) but those bursts of inspiration that make me feel like practicing at 12am would not be taken too kindly. My solution is to practice with one of those big rubber 'practice' mutes that looks like a comb. It dampens the sound ten times more than the other mutes I use for orchestra...Another thing you could do is practice left hand pizz, although that isn't a suitable long term plan. There are also electric practice violins out there that you can hook up to earphones... Happy Practicing!
You can try one of those metal practice mutes. They really shut the sound down effectively, much more than the rubber ones. But you have to be very careful, because of the weight. If you accidentally knocked it off the bridge, you could easily damage your violin. I knew a luthier who refused to sell them for that reason. I use one occasionally (with caution) when people in the house are sleeping. They can't hear me at all when I'm in another room. But I'd never use it on an expensive instrument.
I like the un-rosined bow idea. I'm going to try that. As for mutes, I have a wooden one that doesn't really quiet it down enough. It just dulls it and makes it awkward to have to look over while I'm playing. A quiet exercise I like to do is to work on vibrato without the bow (I'm just trying to learn this technique). Anything you do without the bow will be perfectly quiet enough.
I heard about the metal mute though. But my teacher said no so i don't want to try. I am ordering the rubber one. yes the one which looks like a comb and dampen the sound like 10 times of common mute. The problem with un rosined bow is that it's so slippery that when you use the rosined bow, you can feel the difference. :( At my uni, empty classroom can't be used without permission (which is kinda hard to get). I think I'll stick to this method anyway. I thought about renting a music studio on hourly rate, though. But even a cheap studio would cost about $4-$5 per hour here. :(
Thanks for the reply, guys :D
I would say that playing with an unrosined bow isn't good for your bowing technique... I would say: practice with a rosined bow as much as possible (sorry, I'm a teacher, just can't help it... of course do what's within possibilities and what you think works best in your situation).
My neighbors are about the most terrible you can have as a musician... they are even aggressive, are at home day in day out and I have never heard them saying a full sentence. I hope to move soon!
I have bought a Volkswagen Transporter van this January... I had it completely isolated and now I practice in the van. It's absolutely not ideal... but it works for now...
Good luck everybody!
A couple of days a week I work at a place out in the country. At lunchtime, if the weather is good, I often sneak off and find a quiet place outdoors to practise. I've even found a spot with a shelter where I can play even if it's raining - although I have to tighten my bow a lot during the session.
If the weather is bad, it's back to the boiler room.
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