on practicing in an apartment

So I live in a one-bedroom apartment in an ancient apartment building in close quarters -- to the point that I know exactly what my neighbors' daily routines are -- surrounded by fairly quiet people from all walks of life who only sometimes blast their music.

I rarely hear anyone else practicing a musical instrument, much less one that can shake the foundations of a building like a trombone. I actually had a noise complaint filed against me in the first year that I lived here because I was practicing after 6:00 PM. Since then, I've been working under the following constraints:
  • Always after 11:00 AM but before 5:00 PM (so many people will be at work and not have to deal with me).
  • In the corner room farthest away from adjoining walls (I actually choose my dining room though it’s not on the corner, because it has fewer windows facing directly into other apartments).
  • With a mute in when I’m woodshedding. I only take out the mute when I feel like I can play something beautifully enough for my neighbors to consider it “music” and not “horrible racket”.
  • At mezzo-forte or below.
 I wish that circumstances were different and I could really open up and play like I mean it. I also wish that I could practice in the middle of the night, because sometimes the urge does strike me. But there are neat things too -- like how my Russian-speaking neighbors who otherwise can’t communicate with me like to show their appreciation when I finally nail a Blazhevich etude.


  1. You know though, I have the same problems living in a house that I own where my name is on the mortgage and I've got a clean four feet in between me and the neighbors! Can't practice after the kid next door's bedtime (which is like 8:00) or before the nurse on the other side gets up (which is usually like 10:00AM). Can't annoy the other people that live here TOO much, which usually means feeding them before I practice. And I can't practice while I'm at work, all of which adds up to this narrow band of being able to practice from like 6:00-6:15 most nights, and I have to hide in the attic while I do it.

    Ok, it's not quite that bad, but still. I have to hide in the attic, and there's no heat up there. How we suffer for our art!

  2. At least I only have to worry about my cats, and they usually just sit there and stare at me like I'm an alien.

    I've frequently thought about taking my horn and practicing in the middle of a field somewhere.

  3. That was one of the nice things about the Tractor School, we totally did that. Out in the Experimental Grasses fields, serenading the seedlings.

    *not joking.

  4. Once, our trombone studio went outside and played in the grassy commons area at the RLMU, serenading all of the half-clothed students. I daresay that fifty trombonists blasting Bruckner followed by an arrangement of Phantom of the Opera wasn't something they were expecting...