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Six Tips for Musicians Practicing at Home

Tempe's Tobacco Row is one of the few places a home should be a concert venue.EXPAND
Tempe's Tobacco Row is one of the few places a home should be a concert venue.
Tanner Stechnij

There’s a certain sense of joy living next door to a musician. That is, until said amateur rock star starts playing "Wonderwall" at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday.

Given that we’re all trapped at home for the foreseeable future, it’s more important than ever before to help keep the peace. Musicians everywhere, please consider these six handy tips to appease your neighbors while honing your musical chops.

Go Unplugged: Members of both Post Hoc and Sad Dance Party say they cut down on extraneous noise by playing mostly acoustic at home. You can further dampen noise in most acoustic guitars and basses by placing a T-shirt or old cloth in the body and palming the strings. It might not be the same as your usual setup, but it's a chance to practice your craft in a different setting.

Headphone Time: You can still keep the noise down and bring the thunder by using headphones with your equipment. There are some affordable options for quality headphones: The Sony MDR-7506 lands in the $140 range, while AKG K240 Studio runs up to $70. The right headphones depend on how much you care about sound quality and leakage, as well as comfort and design.

Be Proactive: Some folks approach their neighbors about a new baby, and the same courtesy holds true for musicians. As Owen Evans of ROAR explains, "Inviting people to feel like they have some control or participation is going to give them much more patience with you." You can even write a letter or post a friendly notice near communal spaces.

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Set Curfews: In Arizona, most cities and counties limit noise levels from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. (That can change if you're in an apartment or other community setting.) Veronica Everheart sets her curfew at 10 p.m. A self-enforced curfew isn't just polite, but lets you customize the hours with your neighbors. Some communities even designate quiet days, which opens up other days for rigorous practice.

Get Handy With It: Not everyone can afford a proper studio, but you can still soundproof your crib. Curtains and blankets are a cheap way to dull sound. Bookshelves are great at blocking out echo. You may even consider weather strips, which is akin to high-end tape that goes around each door frame. Renters be warned: You will have to fix any changes when you move into a mansion after you hit it big.

Rock Out All Official-Like: Some artists address intrusive playing by holding impromptu "concerts" in communal spaces. They’re a great way to socialize with everyone, share some good times, and further empower your neighbors with a sense of control. Just don’t cover "Hey Ya!"

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