This post is a bit of a tirade, but it is an important, music-related issue that deserves some attention.

The problem is this: People cannot tolerate the sound of music as someone is trying to enrich their live and the WORLD by learning it.

The world is upside down and spinning backwards, and we need to right the ship!
I hope that, through discussion and collaborative brainstorming, we can share ideas and problem-solve.

The issue is the difficulty musicians have in densely populated areas to find a place to practice their instrument. Several people have recently told me that this issue is seriously impeding their progress.

People living in apartment buildings or flats, or sharing homes with multiple roommates are limited by the tastes and opinions of people around them who share the same “sound space”. My online students have been harassed cruelly by neighbors pounding on their door, shouting through the door, “I can hear you in there!”, calling the cops, or reporting them to the landlord. What an assault on a student just learning to play an instrument. Practicing music is a solitary, introspective, creative process, and to be berated and violated in this way is very painful.

I know noise, and this ain’t it

This world tolerates all kinds of noise: trains, traffic, children playing, babies crying, televisions blaring, video games beeping, cell phones, but generally, no one complains or confronts the source of traffic, the parents, the gamer, the cell phone owner or television consumer.

WHY are we targeting the person who is trying to enrich their life, and in fact, enrich the whole world, by learning to play a musical instrument? Of all the noise in this world, the noise of a violin being practiced is one worthy of our tolerance.

What it boils down to is this: The individual practicing an instrument is an easy target for our anger over the constant noise we are subjected to in a city, so they become the focus of our displaced anger. It’s hard to tell the trains to stop running. It’s hard to reason with a baby to get it to be quiet. It is easy to pound a wall or shout at a budding musician who is easily crushed by your disapproval. If we pause and process what is really going on, it might help to mitigate our irritation. Music is environmentally friendly, it encourages peace, it bridges ALL barriers, it improves society, in is the single most important fiber running through the very fabric of our lives.

Ideas for students in this predicament

  1. Obviously, observe the standard quiet hours, generally, from 10pm to 7am, but be aware that for some people, 10pm is really late, and 7am is really early.
  2. Know your rights, and don’t allow yourself to be bullied if you are within your rights. Once a bully realizes you will fight back, they find someone else to pick on.
  3. Get to know your neighbors and those sharing your “sound space”. Give them your phone number and ask them to call you if your practicing is interfering with something.
  4. If you have roommates, come up with a plan that works for everyone, be willing to compromise part of your desires in exchange for being accommodated in other ways.
  5. Toward the beginning or end of quiet hours, do your quiet practice activities: use a practice mute, silent violin, or silent exercises.
  6. Some apartments have sound proof practice rooms. Look for housing with this amenity.
  7. Explore your neighborhood for churches or community centers where you can reserve time to practice. The benefit of densely populated areas is more community resources.
  8. Some cities have practice rooms that can be rented by the hour. If you can fit this into your budget as a monthly utility, you would sure make the most of your practice time!

For the rest of you, PLEASE! Find it in your heart to tolerate a few squeaks and squawks while someone gets past the first 2 years of violin learning. You will earn good Karma points and you are helping to make the world a better place!