piano muter

palomalouDecember 3, 2009

Having read so many discussions of neighbor/noise issues, I am becoming a bit concerned about our upcoming move to our NYC retirement apartment. I am a professional pianist with a 7 foot grand piano. I doubt I'll really practice all that much, but a few hours a day is likely. When we lived in NYC, we had no problem with practicing many hours on many days, between the stated hours of the building code. We also have a building code where we a re going, but there is the usual statement about affording all, "peace" in their units. Anybody ever tried this product? Does it help? None of my pianist friends have ever used it. (BTW, we don't want it TOTALLY silent: that would defeat the purpose).

Don't waste your time suggesting an electronic keyboard and headphones: that's like telling the NFL to practice with a snurf ball. ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: piano muter

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I'm not even sure that product is on the market, as you've linked to a patent and not a retail website. You might try contacting music schools or the like to see if anyone has any experience with such a device.

If you are going to be living in an older, pre-war apartment, the noise of the piano isn't going to travel as clearly as in a newer building. So I hope you checked the soundproofness of the building before you rented or bought your new place.

Just remember that any sound, however melodious, that you do not want to hear is going to be unwanted noise to the listener. You might do some pre-emptive damage control by talking to your neighbors right after you move in. Find out how much they can hear. Find out if anyone works a night shift or has a small baby who naps from 1-3 every afternoon. And obey the building's quiet hours, and you should be fine.

You might also explore finding other places to practice one or two days a week. Some churches have pianos and might be willing to allow someone to use the instrument, that sort of thing. It will give your neighbors a break from the sound and show that you are trying your best to mitigate the affect the noise has on them.

I struggle with a trumpet player upstairs. I know he's a music student, and I really wish he'd practice in a practice room at his conservatory, instead of over my head. I wear headphones to watch TV or listen to music and I can hear him even with the headphones turned up fairly loudly. And he likes to play from 7-10 pm, sporadically throughout the evening. And it's just getting to be really annoying, having to move to another room to finish a phone call or having to adjust the volume up for half an hour, down again, then up again when he starts playing again.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 2:02PM
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Thanks for your ideas. Music schools would have no reason to use this product, unfortunately. It was carried by Friendship House a few years ago, but not in the last few years.
We were told that there was concrete between floors which provided some sound insulation in the building, but it is post-war.
I plan to speak with the neighbors. Not going out elsewhere to practice, though. But I won't be doing the 6-8 hours a day I once did.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 11:57AM
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Well, I was thinking that maybe someone at a music school might need to use such a device at home. Or someone could give you the advice that they give to their students who must practice at home.

Why don't you try to find the mute and try it out? Or post this question on a board that is frequented by musicians?

I do think that if you can find out when the neighbors are out during the day and can practice then, you should be okay. I'd only be bothered if I came home every night and had to listen to three hours of piano music daily from 6-9. Because that would affect my quiet enjoyment of my apartment. I just hope that your new place isn't between a day worker and a night worker, because that would be hard to deal with.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 2:20PM
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Good points, Camlan. And I think the mute is worth trying out. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 9:02AM
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