For many people, playing an instrument and creating music is the perfect hobby. Other people just enjoy listening to other people’s music. The common ground for both these activities is that they can be noisy.
What is pleasurable to one individual, may be excruciating to someone else. Learning to play an instrument was one of the most popular hobbies during the pandemic, and there are now millions of keen new musicians striving to improve.
However, the lockdown also saw a huge rise in noise complaints. As people stayed indoors and became more frustrated, neighbors became annoyed with each other.
Some reports show that noise complaints in New York City alone rose around 280% in the first three months of the pandemic. June 2020 saw 107,000 noise complaints in NYC, double that of the previous year.
Musicians need to practice though, so how do you make the perfect place to play, and perfect space at home while keeping good relations with your neighbors?
Where should you practice?
The problem with practicing an instrument at home when so many people nearby are remote working or isolating is the noise.
Possibly you can make better use of your garage by converting it into a practice area. You can also make some sound-proofing and though this can be expensive, costs can be cut by some DIY work.
If you have the option to, perhaps you can practice away from home, and generally people. Classrooms, empty village halls, a friend’s home, these are all viable options if they are available.
Otherwise, you may have to resort to making a practice room at home.
How to practice without annoying your neighbors
If soundproofing is out of the question, then try to use a room with carpet in. This helps to soundproof some. Do you have a room full of bookcases? Then this is also a good form of soundproofing.
Alternatively, try soundproofing your instrument. Electric guitars and ukuleles make very little noise if not plugged in so these are better than acoustic models. If you are keen on learning the piano then consider a keyboard instead.
If you learn on the keyboard you will still have the same layout as a piano, but you can plug headphones in. If you don’t want to switch your ukulele for an electric one, then try strumming with your thumb instead of your nails. This will provide a softer sound.
What equipment should go in your room?
Assuming that noise is not a problem, then it is time to choose what goes into your practice room.
Firstly, you need a comfy chair. Comfort is a priority for good practice. If you end up with a backache or you’re uncomfortable, your practice sessions won’t go well.
Some other equipment you may need:
- Pen and paper
- Mobile device
- Sheet music
Having everything you need in your practice room means that you won’t need to keep leaving to get something that you have forgotten. Hydration is important too, to keep focus and concentration levels high, so bring water.
Bring a mobile device or laptop too. There are many apps that are useful for instantly displaying ukulele chords, or helping to write lyrics, for instance.
How much room do you need?
Last year saw sales of guitars, ukuleles, and pianos surge. One set of instruments that didn’t sell so well were drum kits.
The sale of drum kits has been in decline over the last fifteen years. However, if you are one of the 106,000 people who invested in a new drum kit, then you will need somewhere to practice.
How much room you need will depend on what instrument you have bought from pianos shops . You can switch from a piano to a keyboard to reduce the space needed. You could learn the ukulele as a beginner if space is limited.
Garages, basements, and attics are good options if available for larger instruments. You should also consider the acoustics when you choose your practice room.
Setting up the room
It may seem a small thing, but decorating your practice room can help you remember why you are there, and add a little inspiration and encouragement.
Put up posters of musicians that you admire, or paint the room to suit you. You could use some soundproof curtains, but make sure you have proper lighting for practicing.
If you are learning to play the ukulele, then set your laptop on a desk in front of where you will sit. This way you can read ukulele chords easily on the screen.
Lastly, remove all distractions. Switch your phone off completely. Set a timer so you don’t need to watch the clock. Close the door, and let everyone else in the home know not to disturb you.
Making music is a great hobby and has some incredible extra benefits. There are several ways that music can help your mental health for instance. Moods can be lightened by hearing a favorite song on the radio, and music can lower anxiety.
Setting up the perfect space at home to practice can mean that you have solitude to improve your playing, and you won’t annoy the neighbors either.