The pandemic led to a surge in folks learning to play an instrument or compose music at home. You might be a music lover rediscovering your roots. Perhaps you’re an aspiring musician or singer/songwriter. In all cases, a well-conceived place for practice is a must when it comes to improving your craft.
Make music and apartment living more compatible with a little planning and preparation. After all, the terms “apartment” and “musician” are not mutually exclusive—far from it. Here are tips for pursuing your love of music while maintaining harmony with your neighbors.
Setting up a Space for Music Practice
The Atlanta Institute of Music and Media (AIMM) recommends a music space where you can “play freely and concentrate fully.” The right practice area can make a real difference. Any adjustable space will do. This might be a living area, spare bedroom, or even a walk-in closet. It is all about making harmonious sounds and controlling where they travel.
Sound transmission varies from one apartment high-rise or multifamily complex to another. Think about sound when you’re looking for a new place. Whether you’re an aspiring musician or a devoted hobbyist, sound attenuation is a key consideration. Seek out corner or ground floor units where there’s potentially less impact on neighbors. Newer and upgraded apartments often feature enhanced sound insulation.
If you’re creating a music space in an apartment home you already live in, consider these ideas. Of course, getting inside the walls to soundproof them is not an option. While complete soundproofing is not possible, increased sound absorption is. Avoid hard surfaces that reflect sound rather than absorb it. Instead, add heavier draperies or textile wall art. For the floor, consider a heavier woolen rug laid over pads or corkboard. Continue your sound-absorbing efforts with upholstered furniture.
Sometimes there are limits to what you can do about sound. Consider the use of headphones, mutes, and/or dampers when necessary.
Check your lease for references to music or musical instruments. Some leases specify times for playing instruments and other music practice. Be proactive with your neighbors by introducing yourself and mentioning your love of music. You might even find you share some common interests. Give them your number in case there’s ever a concern about your practice sessions. Use common sense when choosing a time to practice and adjust to your neighbors’ habits and sleep schedules.
What if challenges remain? You might combine more limited practice in your apartment with full sessions elsewhere. See if any of your fellow musicians have a garage or other space available. Or, rent out a rehearsal room designed for music practices.
Apartment dwellers often lack access to the attic, basement, or other extra storage. When space is limited, it pays to get creative. There are many ideas for storing those instruments, amps, mixers, cables, and more. Use wall hangers to display instruments like guitars or ukuleles. Hang a vintage instrument or two or display one handed down in the family.
There’s a key advantage to hanging instruments when wall space is available. A guitar looks pretty cool up on the wall. If there are questions about drilling holes in the walls, visit your landlord or property manager first.
Consider another approach if you have several guitars. Convert a wardrobe closet into a guitar cabinet or turn a rolling bookcase into amp storage. For pedals, mixers, and more, consider rack-mount shelves and drawers from a music supply store.
Optimize both your physical location and your mental state. Focused practice yields quality results in less time. Practice your weaknesses as well as your strengths, and work through those weaknesses to land in a better place.
1. Manage Expectations
If you find yourself returning to playing, ease into it. Keep it simple at first. That virtuoso performance can wait. Do you have an interest in or experience with several instruments? Get back in the groove by focusing on one at first. If you’re playing an instrument for the first time, consider a simpler start. Begin with a ukulele before graduating to the guitar, for example.
2. Find a Personal Instructor
Consider a music teacher who works out of a commercial space, where you will feel especially free to make music. Those who give private lessons often provide a free or discounted first lesson, which gives the prospective student a chance to gauge compatibility.
3. Maintain a Routine
Practice a set amount on certain days. Try to set a goal for each session and break this practice time down into a series of focused objectives. A little discipline goes a long way.
Vary your warm-up by combining scales, technical studies, and sight-reading. At the end of a session, cool down by practicing a piece you know and enjoy. It’s important to find ways to reward yourself for a job well done.
When it comes to practicing, balance is key. Sure, it is important to devote time to improving your technique. However, it is also acceptable to take an occasional day off. Ultimately, it is about having fun playing the music you love, so be sure to find time to practice with music-loving family or friends or play along with like-minded musicians on the internet.
4. Perform for Others
Finally, share your progress with others. Schedule a performance for family or friends, virtually or in person. You’ll bond with those you care about and garner valuable feedback along the way.
Finally, decorate your music space for inspiration and motivation. It will make those hours of practice even more enjoyable.
About Draper and Kramer
Draper and Kramer is a national real estate services firm founded in Chicago in 1893. We offer spacious luxury apartments at locations across the middle of the country. The size of many of Draper and Kramer’s apartments makes it easy to create a practice space for music and store your instruments with room to spare. Browse all our properties here.