What can you do if your practicing bothers your roommates, family, or neighbors? Many musicians face this issue daily.
The easiest solution is to find a time of day when you can practice and not bother anyone. A second approach is to practice at a professional rehearsal studio or in a university/school practice room if either of these is available to you.
Beyond that, you’re going to have to get creative, making changes to either your practice space or to your instrument.
The good news? Many products are available to help you.
The bad news? Some of these products cost several thousand dollars.
Whether you’re looking for a free, do-it-yourself approach or are wanting a high-end, professional solution for practicing while leaving the rest of the world in peace and quiet, here are a few options:
1. Do-it-yourself Soundproofing: Put heavy rugs in your practice room (with the thickest pads underneath you can find) and cover the windows with thick drapes. Hang tapestries or blankets on the walls and over your door. Some musicians swear by egg flats as their wall covering material. Put a rolled-up towel or blanket in the space under the door.
2. Acoustic Shields: There are acoustic tiles, sound baffles, noise-reducing foam, and many other products on the market for soundproofing your practice space. This can be a do-it-yourself project or a professionally-installed job.
3. Isolation Rooms: Sound-isolating practice rooms and special acoustic doors are available from Wenger Corporation and other companies. These can be a room-within-a-room or free-standing and need to be professionally installed.
4. Modifying Your Instrument: Practice mutes exist for most instruments. While these mutes alter your tone, they definitely cut the decibels! String players and guitarists can put foam in their sound holes, and drummers can cover drums and cymbals with pads.
5. Using Headphones: Keyboardists, electric guitarists, and players of other electronic instruments have the option of playing through headphones. There are several devices on the market that act as an amplifier–complete with reverb, delay, and distortion–with headphone outputs.
6. “Silent” Instruments: Yamaha and other companies manufacture instruments that are specifically designed to be quiet when you play them. These include pianos, guitars, violins, violas, cellos, and basses. Also, any solid-body electric guitar or bass can be played without plugging into an amplifier for near-silent practicing.
7. Silencing Systems: Special silencing mutes have been designed for brass instruments. These systems are electronic and are connected to headphones. So, trumpeters can go for their double high C’s while no sound escapes into the room.
8. “Silent” Rehearsal Studios: Designed specifically for rock bands, there are now products on the market that let musicians plug their instruments into individual channels on a single device and listen to their own mixes on headphones while rehearsing. The best-known such device is the Jam Hub. I love the ads for this product: “Neighbors can’t hear it. Parents can’t hear it. Cops can’t hear it.”
These are just a sampling of the many approaches musicians can take to make their practicing and rehearsals quieter.
Do you have other solutions? If so, please leave a comment and share your ideas with other musicians.