Practising in an apartment

February 22, 2019, 8:00 PM · At what times do you believe it's appropriate to practice when you live in an apartment?

I don't have any agenda in writing this post except to avoid annoying my neighbours.

Replies (19)

Edited: February 22, 2019, 8:03 PM · It depends on the type and construction of apartment, location and isolation of practice room in comparison to the neighbour and sound transmission, and volume level of the instrument. With good isolation and a mute or electric, one can potentially practice at any time.
February 22, 2019, 8:07 PM · I've had people stand outside/upstairs and they can hear it, so it must be quite loud.
Edited: February 22, 2019, 8:16 PM · It also depends on what your neighbors are OK with. I'm pretty lucky with my current apartment: both of the neighbors adjacent to my living room (next door and upstairs) are night owls who don't mind me practicing past midnight even though they can definitely hear it. That wasn't true in my last apartment, where I had to stop practicing at exactly 10pm according to apartment rules and most of the neighbors who could hear me practice wanted it quiet at 10:00 sharp.
February 22, 2019, 8:20 PM · The best way is to simply ask your neighbours. Do not wait until someone complains. You need to know:
1. can they hear you
2. does it bother them
3. what period of time is a "red zone"

It also depends on by-laws of the city / town and the rules of the building.

February 22, 2019, 9:30 PM · One of these days I'm going to work up a set of plans for an insulated practice booth that you can build yourself with tools you can rent from the local hardware.
February 22, 2019, 10:14 PM · @Paul looking forward to that post

Would it be a stand alone structure that would be easy to put up and take down? And what do you do about reverb within the room or are you putting up insulation for that as well?

Edited: February 23, 2019, 12:20 AM · I usually try to get my practicing in before 8pm—most often I practice in the 5:30–7:00pm range (after I get home from work) and earlier on the weekends. I've talked to some but not all neighbors in my building as well.
February 23, 2019, 1:02 AM · No matter where I am, house or apartment, I stop playing at 9pm as a courtesy.
Edited: February 23, 2019, 6:49 AM · I usually *start* practicing at 9 PM or even 10 PM. But I practice in a basement room that I finished myself that has all the walls and the ceiling insulated with fiberglass. It is barely audible in the room above me and that level of sound does not bother the inhabitant. The only downside is that my basement has 7-foot ceilings so I have to practice sitting down, otherwise I will destroy my bow tip (learned that the hard way, fortunately repair was inexpensive).

James - The idea is to build the booth and design it at the same time, then sell it locally. The booth would be designed to occupy most of a standard bedroom. Echo is only one of the issues. There's also fitting a doorway, lighting, and most difficult of all is HVAC -- just circulating air from the surrounding room is an issue because of the noise of the fan and the lack of sound insulation at that point. As for electrical, the entire booth will just plug into a wall in the room where the booth is installed. Like a large appliance. The person building this will need to know how to use tools -- it's not going to be like IKEA furniture where you put the whole thing together with one Allen wrench.

Edited: February 23, 2019, 5:48 PM · I live in an apartment and this was a large concern of mine when I returned to the violin almost 3 months ago. I mention the time since returning as my teacher laughed at first and said I wasn't playing loud enough yet for that to be a concern :-)

Joking aside (though it was true), on weeknights I practice sometime between 5:30 - 8:00, never later than 8pm. On weekends I practice twice a day when I can - sometime between 10am and 8pm. If I do want to do something after 8 then perhaps it will involve piz. or studying the materials my teacher has provided.

Frankly I am more concerned about the neighbor's bedroom on the other side of the wall of my practice room/study than I am the downstairs neighbor. From the feedback I've had from downstairs they don't seem to hear much.

When in doubt, ask you neighbor and review your lease for the official quiet times - which, for me, are MUCH later than when I would consider playing.

Edited: February 23, 2019, 7:59 AM · Probably best to start early, then there's no need to play late, but I haven't started yet today (it's 2PM local time).

My downstairs neighbours, I know, can't hear anything. I'm not sure about my upstairs neighbours - they installed DIY underfloor felting. 6 months ago when I was experimenting with a silent violin with a practice mute on, they said they couldn't hear anything, which wasn't surprising, but it means they are primed to mention it if they can hear something. But they have their washing machine on after 10PM regularly.

I'm not sure if heavy practice mutes attenuate the bass, which carries further, as much as they attenuate the treble.

Is it a sensible question to ask about whether quiet practice has any benefits or is just inhibiting?

February 23, 2019, 8:06 AM · "Is it a sensible question to ask about whether quiet practice has any benefits or is just inhibiting?"

No, it isn't a sensible question, because you have to deal with the answers, which are almost as polar as questions about shoulder rests.

So think about it yourself. Can you accomplish nothing with a mute on?

February 23, 2019, 8:13 AM · " The next time he turned the music up loud I simply turned on the transmitter and blocked his frequency."

Out of curiosity, what did you choose to broadcast? Yourself playing? Never?

February 23, 2019, 8:37 AM · I have personally tried several practice mutes. The sound muffled so much to the extent that I don't enjoy playing the instrument anymore with it on. Paradoxically, I don't think the volume was lowered a lot.
February 23, 2019, 12:38 PM · Timothy Smith said: " I just broadcast an empty RF carrier." I like the idea of broadcasting silence. If it's low enough power, maybe it's even legal, at least for those who have the technical skill.
February 23, 2019, 1:37 PM · I'm rarely able to start practicing before 9pm, so I've always asked the neighbors if they mind me practicing after the official quiet hours. If I'm practicing after the neighbors' limits, I play pizzicato only; I don't own a practice mute and don't intend to ever get one.

If I had my own house and could be sure no one would hear it, I'd prefer to start practicing around midnight. Regardless of when I wake up and go to bed, I'm most alert between midnight and 3am.

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