Practicing without driving those around you nuts

I started out in the car, a legacy of trying to teach myself the trombone during Covid which really didn’t sound musical. Once I learned to strum lightly with the side of my thumb I moved it into the living room and I’m grateful my wife tolerates my practice.
 
How do you all get on with practicing without driving those around you completely nuts?
My advice is geared towards adults and older kids but here it is.
Honestly they just need to deal with it. Relationships and families are a give and take and unless you're playing amplified at 2am while they have a migraine or strumming for hours on end I don't see why it should be a big deal. I'm sure there is plenty of stuff your family does that you put up with because you love them, and hopefully you'll sound good enough that they'll enjoy it soon.
 
I actually do have a woodshed, but have not found inspiration there.
I've been trying since I first heard Johnny B. Goode.
 
Last edited:
My advice is geared towards adults and older kids but here it is.
Honestly they just need to deal with it. Relationships and families are a give and take and unless you're playing amplified at 2am while they have a migraine or strumming for hours on end I don't see why it should be a big deal. I'm sure there is plenty of stuff your family does that you put up with because you love them, and hopefully you'll sound good enough that they'll enjoy it soon.
Yup, I was thinking the same thing and could not have said it better. Hopefully family members will appreciate that you are doing something positive and artistic.
 
I was thinking about this as well. If I were a kid again and complained about a parent's behavior I would have been pimp slapped. Moreover I would have then been required to explain why the slapping was necessary and I would have needed to give a little impromptu speech on how my impertinence was disrespectful and not appropriate.

I am in NO way criticizing the OP. There's no way in hell I would do this to a child; I'm just saying it is what my parents would have done, while smoking a cigarette. So I'm just marveling at the change in parenting tactics and family-dynamics.
 
I've managed this problem:
  • on a soprano, using a set of low tension strings which makes it quieter
  • on a concert, using a small piece of foam near the bridge as a mute, trim as necessary to get just enough pressure to lower the volume without completely cancelling out the sound
  • on a tenor or baritone, leaving them on the wall and not playing them all what are you even thinking?
 
@Wiggy it was a minivan, sit in the rear and point the slide between the seats in the rows in front of me. It worked well as far as a private practice space goes, but I could tell it would take years to sound musical, after a year I sounded like a seventh grader who started band as a sixth grader lol. Maybe once I retire I’ll try it again, but the uke became acceptance much more quickly (and it is much quieter).
 
@Wiggy it was a minivan, sit in the rear and point the slide between the seats in the rows in front of me. It worked well as far as a private practice space goes, but I could tell it would take years to sound musical, after a year I sounded like a seventh grader who started band as a sixth grader lol. Maybe once I retire I’ll try it again, but the uke became acceptance much more quickly (and it is much quieter).
The Trombone is one of the more difficult brass instruments to master and none of the brass family are easy. If you have a go again later then seek out a group of fellow brass players to rehearse with. Ukes have their challenges but I think that they’re a good choice for having fun through music.
 
I've managed this problem:
  • on a soprano, using a set of low tension strings which makes it quieter
  • on a concert, using a small piece of foam near the bridge as a mute, trim as necessary to get just enough pressure to lower the volume without completely cancelling out the sound
  • on a tenor or baritone, leaving them on the wall and not playing them all what are you even thinking?
I’m just wondering what string sets you count as low tension? I’d got nylon generally in mind but maybe there are other materials and specific sets to consider.
 
The Trombone is one of the more difficult brass instruments to master and none of the brass family are easy. If you have a go again later then seek out a group of fellow brass players to rehearse with. Ukes have their challenges but I think that they’re a good choice for having fun through music.
True story - just before Christmas I was playing my banjo uke accompanying a trombone player, a violin and a piano. The piano was a 1911 Bluthner baby grand - a very beautiful, rare professional level instrument. A similar piano would be about £15,000 to buy now.

While we were playing trombone player accidentally hit the piano with his trombone, breaking a piece of (real!) ivory off the D above middle C.

It was glued back on and you wouldn't notice where it happened, but it was something of a shock at the time.
 
My advice is geared towards adults and older kids but here it is.
It's good advice.

Future partners and housemates of your niece will thank you that she learned to get on with the people she shared a living space with.
 
My four-year-old niece just pulled out her ukulele in order to demonstrate how loud she would allow me to practice mine… imagine stroking a ukulele with a feather and you‘re not far off the volume she’ll allow.

The more I think of this the more I’m prompted to wonder why she said it. Small children - four is no age at all - often repeat what they over hear adults say, so just beware that minefield. Alternatively she could just parroting / repeating the rules that her parents have laid down for her own ‘practise’ … , but sometimes you never know what’s really going on and just need to be thinking over what you hear.
 
I’m just wondering what string sets you count as low tension? I’d got nylon generally in mind but maybe there are other materials and specific sets to consider.
I string my ukuleles with Seaguar Pink fluorocarbon fishing leader, which is the equivalent of buying fluorocarbon uke string in bulk, with the advantage that you can buy it in every thickness. This means I can literally just say, "Ah, I don't want the normal C4 string, I want one that will give me lower tension (thinner, lower weight), then I just choose that reel. I can string everything from C5 on a soprano to G3 on a baritone, and with the exception of those extremes, it gives me choices about how tight or loose those strings feel on any given scale length.

If you are a normal person, who buys string in normal sets, then you probably want to go to a seller of string sets and say to them, "Help, I need a low-tension set". I know this can be done but I don't know how to do it because, as I've said, I'm not normal (in this one, specific sense). I'm sure someone else will chime in with their favorite string merchant.
 
@Wiggy it was a minivan, sit in the rear and point the slide between the seats in the rows in front of me. It worked well as far as a private practice space goes, but I could tell it would take years to sound musical, after a year I sounded like a seventh grader who started band as a sixth grader lol. Maybe once I retire I’ll try it again, but the uke became acceptance much more quickly (and it is much quieter).
Try looking into Yamaha Silent Brass. A mute with a pickup inside. The mute connects to a small walkman size device. the device connects to headphones. I was a trumpet major in college. I don't really play any more. I had one and it works quite well. I ended up giving it away to a young trumpeter I know. They are a bit pricey.
 
I figure that was playing well before getting married, so when the divorce finally came through I was actually relieved.

Plus, I found out that almost 20% of my take home pay was going to Amazon!!
 
I practice in the afternoon (I’m retired), and my wife is working in the her office in the next room.
I can play baritone ukulele or tenor guitar quietly enough that it doesn’t bother her, but there’s no way to keep the volume down on the Bouzouki or tenor banjo, so I generally don’t play them unless she isn’t home.
 
Top Bottom