The Apartment Dweller’s Guide to Playing Music

how to play music in apartment

Note to apartment-dwelling musicians: headphones are your friend. credit:

College was great, wasn’t it? It was a built-in excuse for being a noisy neighbor, free to bang on your drums or play guitar at all hours of the night, your hood’s sleep cycles be damned. That now unwelcome occasion known as your latest birthday likely reminded you that your college days are long, long gone. Your love of music, on the other hand, is not. For apartment-dwelling musicians, that poses a problem: you need to practice but don’t want to be that neighbor. Consider these soundproof ideas for solutions.

Open The Lines of Communication

Whether you’re the new kid on the block or have a new neighbor moving in, introduce yourself. Explain that you’re a musician and see if they work unconventional hours, like doctors and nurses often do overnight shifts, that would make it difficult for them to catch some shut eye at certain times of the day. Give them a heads up about your practice times, and tell them to let you know if the sound ever gets too loud. Showing that you’re willing to accommodate them can go a long way in preventing calls to landlords.

Consider Timing

If your neighbors have a 9-5 job and you don’t, you’re in luck. That’s the perfect time to practice. If that’s not the case, you may need to make some adjustments. Can you get home during the day and log an hour of practice time at lunch? Check your lease to see when quiet hours are and follow the same rules you would with phone calls: don’t do it after 8:30pm.

Take Sound-Dampening Measures

Plug electric instruments right into an amp and then keep track of the sounds using headphones. Pianists can use the quiet pedal, the middle pedal on an upright piano also known as a practice pedal, and horn and percussion players can use mutes. Also, close your windows when you practice. The world may not share your love of glam rock.


When choosing an apartment, see if you can get one on the end of a building where you won’t have adjacent neighbors and practice in a room where you’re not sharing a wall, doors closed. If that’s not possible, keep the layout of your neighbors’s apartment in mind and avoid playing near their bedrooms. Try practicing in a walk-in closet, which can muffle your sound.

How Loud Is Too Loud?

Bottom line: anything louder than a TV, especially after hours or when you know your neighbor is trying to sleep.

Musicians, share your soundproofing advice in the comments section.

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a social strategist of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.