Where do you practice?

September 4, 2007 at 05:39 AM · Do you ever want to play late at night?

I'm concerned that I might be disturbing my neighbors when I practice. I have a heavy practice mute, play at reasonable hours (no later than 9), and try to move myself to a remote area of my apartment when I play. Even so, the sound must shoot through the other apartments.

Does anyone go to some other place, other than their home, to practice? Am I supposed to drive to the park and play?

Has anyone used an alloy practice mute? Is it more effective than a rubber practice mute?

Replies (23)

September 4, 2007 at 06:11 AM · I've got one of the heavy steel nugget claw things, and it definitely mutes the sound, the tone, everything. Enough that intonation sometimes doesn't seem right. But, it's good for playing when no one else wants to hear (always, in my case.)

I'm a manager at a pizza place, and I sometimes go there at night.

September 4, 2007 at 09:57 AM · Ian,

How late is late? I'd say that 9.00pm is far to early!!! I'm sure playing until 10.00 is OK at least. BTW, you could go and ask your nearest neighbours what they hear, does it bother them.

I used to practice in my bedroom with my kids the other side of the wall. It didn't bother them and they liked it (this is when I was starting out too).

You may find that through a concrete floor/ceiling or outside wall you're not as audible as you think or certainly that someone watching their own TV in the living room wouldn't notice you playing anyway. Just my two cents worth. All the best!

September 4, 2007 at 01:00 PM · I practice using a rubber practice mute. I used to use a metal one but I guess I play a bit better now and don't get as much flack about my practicing. As to where I practice--in the library /study in the back of the house.

September 4, 2007 at 01:34 PM · I generally practice in my bedroom. I also have a heavy practice mute - a nice gold one. I use it when practicing before 8am or after 10pm. Just to be kind to my family and neighbors. It's surprising how well it dampens the sound. If you close the door, and make sure the blinds are drawn, then that will help deaden the sound. There's plenty of other sound deadening techniques that you can use, many of them temporary, so long as you've got the storage.

If you attend a church, they might be willing to let you use the building at night. I'm not sure about your church, but mine has a problem with attracting Graffiti, so having someone there at night is a great deterrent. Plus you get the added bonus that it's generally fantastic acoustics.

Another option might be to call up the local music school and see if you could borrow their practice rooms in the evening if they're not being used. They might ask for some money, but if no other option is available, then it might be the best option.

If you've got a Microphone, try recording yourself outside your room when playing with the practice mute on. ANd then move the mic further and further away. I think you'll be surprised at how well it dampens the sound.

http://www.soundprooffoam.com/ has a number of options available to help you sound proof your room. Take a look on there for more professional ways to soundproof the room, if it really is that loud.

September 4, 2007 at 07:38 PM · there is a section of my house that is pretty much sound isolated. But if you feel the need to play (as i do of course) then by all means! Play till you curse; play till your hands want to hit you in the face! :)

September 4, 2007 at 08:18 PM · I've often wondered what it would be like practicing (occasionally) on an electric violin, wearing headphones of course. Would that be a really bad idea?

September 4, 2007 at 09:06 PM · Yes, you should ask...it never hurts. Maybe you'll make new friends. My neighbor plays electric guitar sometimes very late at night. I can hear him and though he says he cant hear me butcher a song with my violin, I'm sure we just have a silent agreement :)

September 4, 2007 at 09:08 PM · yes I use the alloy practice mute. I actually find that much better at blocking sound. I even made some students use them during lessons so that they would try to play louder. One thing is that they do have an easier time falling off of the bridge and can damage the violin when doing so.

September 5, 2007 at 12:13 AM · There are three other apartments in the big old house I live in. I'm very early riser, and 5-6 AM is my standard practice time. I always use a rubber mute unless I'm home during the daylight hours and I know my neighbors are gone.

I used to worry constantly about disturbing my neighbors. Finally, I just asked them, and all 3 said they didn't hear me at all.

I've tried a metal mute, but seldom use it because it's unnecessary in my situation and also it's so heavy that I've gotten back pain when using it.

I've checked the tuning of my instrument unmuted vs. with wood, rubber, and metal mutes, against an electronic tuner, and found that the mutes don't affect the tuning at all.

Ian, I suggest you stop worrying and just ask your neighbors if it's a problem. You may be surprized and relieved, as I was.

September 5, 2007 at 12:08 AM · 9PM seems pretty reasonable to me too, but my neighbors are generally lights out and fast asleep by that time. It's really amazingly consistent. I guess that's what happens when you have children - ?

The weekends are another story, with music booming through the building the entire day and night... and into the next day. That's usually when I get the most practice in (and treadmill running).

I'll definitely try an alloy practice mute, and then possibly go to church if it's not booked.

September 5, 2007 at 01:02 AM · During the Summer months,I seldom practice because people would hear me from 300 yards away.

In summer,I'll practice if it is windy and the waves on the Lake are roaring big swells;no one can hear me then.

Spring,Autumn and Winter--anytime,because everyone has their windows closed--no one can hear me then.

I like to repeat musical phrases exactly--over & over again--until I can 'nail' em...People sure do not want to hear that.

My season is coming soon,then I'll be ALL set for the months to come !

When other musicians come to my place,then we play anytime and no one has ever complained--even if we play till 1:00am---life is good !

September 5, 2007 at 02:31 AM · I hate practicing at home, too many distractions. I usually practice in the practice rooms at my college, and I don't have a specific time schedule either as long as I put in the hours. I mix it up between morning and nightime hours. I usually like to practice in front of mirror so I can see what I'm doing. Hence when at home, the bathroom is usually a place I do practice in amd also in another specific room in the house where my sound really projects.. I can't stand practicing around my parents, but I think others would agree.

September 5, 2007 at 05:15 AM · Yes, Rafe, practising around my parents are what killed it the first time around. I'm now married and not living with them and fortunately our house is 'tall' if not big so I can practice in the basement or the loft or anywhere other than the TV room!

September 25, 2007 at 04:59 AM · I'm always afraid I'm bothering my neighbors as well. I have both a rubber mute and a gold mute. The rubber one is nice but it feels like it doesn't dampen the sound enough (at least not enough to play at 1AM in the morning). However, the gold mute will vibrate right off the bridge if I play too hard (i.e. not very hard at all). It's especially sensitive on the low vibrations of the G string. From a couple of the reponses here it seems like this is a common trait of the heavy metal ones. Or is there a trick to putting it on?

September 25, 2007 at 04:43 PM · The big problem I always have with mutes is that I wind up pressing too hard to compensate for the lost sound. As a result, I get tense. I'm not sure there's much of an ideal solution to this except finding a location away from the neighbors

September 25, 2007 at 06:07 PM · I almost forgot that I started this thread... thanks for all of the tips. I've found that practicing without a mute has been fine (9pm). As the night wears on, I switch to a rubber mute, and when I shouldn't be playing (12pm +), I use the alloy mute. I really like the alloy mute.

I haven't found myself pressing too hard to compensate for sound loss, but I'm used to playing guitar, so I'm probably unaware that I am choking my notes.

September 29, 2007 at 10:24 AM · I had a bad experience practising with metal mutes. I think heavy mutes are quite good when you are in a hotel room during a tour... but if you use them on a permanent basis for doing all your practice you won't recognize you playing after taking off the mute... and that can be a problem. I am not quite sure on what happens to the intonation when playing with that mutes because they kill all the overtones you need to get the pitch of a note.

Is better to practice somewhere else, going earlier to the rehearsal or concert hall, etc.

As Ben said before another option would be to isolate the room where you practice... A collegue has this on his apartment and you barely can hear the violin when the door is closed!

On the other side we musicians are often surprised to realize that our neighbours actually like to listen our playing even if we are practicing or trying out something.

September 30, 2007 at 04:06 AM · Well, I used to worry about neighbors... but I noticed that they don't really ever worry about me when they watch their tv's at 2 in the morning, or yell at their spouses or clomp around above my head, so I don't really care anymore if I bother them. Besides, strange though it may seem to us, many of my neighbors have told me that they love hearing me play! (If only audiences and audition panels felt the same way...) So, don't worry about the neighbors.

May 26, 2012 at 10:16 AM · Funny I worry about bothering my neighbors as well. I do have a mute but it's not one of those heavy ones that covers the bridge. I have my own home so I am curious how far does the sound carry? Also I like to practice in our 3 seasoned back porch every time it rains or when the neighbors are doing their lawns. I like this as I can draw out the sound of my violin with out guilt.

May 26, 2012 at 11:36 PM · I have one of those metal hotel mutes, but the reason I don't like to use it is that it also mutes the bow: for some reason the bow is less bouncy on the string. It means you cannot do realistic bow exercises because the bow control is different.

May 29, 2012 at 07:45 PM · I'm lucky - two days a week I work at a place out in the country where I can easily find a spot that's both secluded and pretty in which to practise after lunch. Even just out back there's a spot with a stump just the right height for my sheet music. (I'll head out there right after I post this.)

A couple of weeks ago we were camped out and in the middle of the day there didn't seem to be anyone around so I ran through a piece for an upcoming recital. When I finished, applause burst out from the tent next to ours. Good thing I was playing reasonably well...

May 29, 2012 at 11:17 PM · Maybe pratice at a nice quite park, the halls of the subway station, or find a nice echoy hall somewhere in the city.

May 30, 2012 at 10:21 AM · I had a 'tent like' (see above) experience yesterday. I was 45 minutes early for my lesson and found an old italian cafe where I bought a capo and sat in the bare, formica table backroom.

On the spur of the moment I pulled out my violin and played a few standard - the owner and the few old men sitting out front were enourmously appreciative and asked if I could come back next week!

Perhaps we are too shy about our music ability - by mixing with musicians its easy to feel that what we do is quite common - but for the average person live music, and played by someone who has studied their instrument, is actually very special. I'm going to try this again....

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