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Thread: Quiet practice: bad?

  1. #26
    ...but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    Quiet playing never worked for me. Whatever I practise must stand up for itself in a noisy session after all, plus I like the sound of my OM loud. Playing softly does not train muscle works as needed, muting the sound cripples the instrument and takes all the fun out of it.
    I have found that the passenger seat of a car is the best place to practice with good acoustic response from the windshield and isolation from the world I don't want to bother. It is also a place that's available in many situations, be it at home or abroad.

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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    <I have found that the passenger seat of a car is the best place to practice with good acoustic response from the windshield and isolation from the world I don't want to bother.>

    My absolute favourite place to practise, bar none! Backseat's no good...gotta be up front.

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    Registered User swampstomper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    I don't think it's loud vs. soft per se, it's free vs. constrained. If you are worrying about waking up the neighbours or the wife's opinion of your playing, you will not have a free mind, your picking hand will cramp up unconsciously, you won' follow through on your pick strokes, you won't dig in for expression, you will unconciously damp too soon with your fingering hand. A good mando can be very "cutting" even when played without too much pick energy. I have the problem with the spare mando I keep in my office, sometimes listening to mandozine radio I'll pull it out and try to play along. After hours it's fine but if I'm trying to keep it down during work hours my fluidity and expression go to pieces.

    My advice is to find a spot or time where you can play as you want. For the poster living in a small apartment who can only pick after midnight, maybe find a local music school with practice rooms at least for the weekends?

  4. #29
    Needs Improvement Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    I have found that the passenger seat of a car is the best place to practice with good acoustic response from the windshield and isolation from the world I don't want to bother.
    Heh, that sounds great. I just need to find someone to drive me everywhere I want to go.

    My daily commute is about 54 miles each way. In traffic, it takes well over an hour. So I spend over two hours every day behind the wheel. Oh how I would LOVE to spend that time with my fingers around my mandolin instead of a steering wheel!

    I don't think it's loud vs. soft per se, it's free vs. constrained.
    Yes! That's the real issue here. I have to play constrained when I'm being polite with my volume. And I've actually found that it helps to control unwanted sounds. But it also limits technique.

    I am going to try the foam cutouts for the FF holes as well as the cloth rolled up behind the bridge and see if they work well enough to let me play in a less constrained manner while still being somewhat muted.

    Great tips!

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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by swampstomper View Post
    I don't think it's loud vs. soft per se, it's free vs. constrained. If you are worrying about waking up the neighbours or the wife's opinion of your playing, you will not have a free mind, your picking hand will cramp up unconsciously, you won' follow through on your pick strokes, you won't dig in for expression, you will unconciously damp too soon with your fingering hand. A good mando can be very "cutting" even when played without too much pick energy. I have the problem with the spare mando I keep in my office, sometimes listening to mandozine radio I'll pull it out and try to play along. After hours it's fine but if I'm trying to keep it down during work hours my fluidity and expression go to pieces.

    My advice is to find a spot or time where you can play as you want. For the poster living in a small apartment who can only pick after midnight, maybe find a local music school with practice rooms at least for the weekends?
    Hi,
    english isn't my first language, so i can't express everything very well.
    My apartment is big but the main problem is that i work the whole day, and i can only practice in the late night. And of course at 2/3:00 a.m. when the silence reign, even a small noise become a big noise ( hope this make sense). So when i play i'm constrained and this isn't good. On the weekend i want stay relaxed, i like to go out. I don't know how i will resolve the problem, maybe i can purchase an'electric mando and play it with headset souds crazy, but i dont have other choice and i don't know if is possible.
    Last edited by Nox; Mar-27-2009 at 1:02pm.

  6. #31
    Needs Improvement Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    Nox,

    This may sound silly. But you could consider building yourself a small "cubby" inside a closet. Put some soundproofing board or foam up on the walls and ceiling and make it a small space just big enough to sit in while you play. Rig it up with a lamp and a chair and whatever else you need to be comfortable. But build it so that when you get inside and shut the door, the sound is muffled enough that you can play to your heart's content without waking others.

    If I had to play in the middle of the night or lived in a small apartment with neighbors, I would probably do that.

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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    Nox,

    This may sound silly. But you could consider building yourself a small "cubby" inside a closet. Put some soundproofing board or foam up on the walls and ceiling and make it a small space just big enough to sit in while you play. Rig it up with a lamp and a chair and whatever else you need to be comfortable. But build it so that when you get inside and shut the door, the sound is muffled enough that you can play to your heart's content without waking others.

    If I had to play in the middle of the night or lived in a small apartment with neighbors, I would probably do that.
    You mean a little soundproof cage, well it's an'idea, but at this point isn't better an'electric mandolin? is possibile to plug the output inside an'headset?

  8. #33
    Registered User swampstomper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    Nox,

    Electric is a completely different instrument (same tuning of course!), with its own joys and perils. f that is what you want to learn, your idea is good: you can get headphones that take output directly from the jack and practice with almost no noise. But I don't think it will help your acoustic mandolin technique very much.

    Maybe on the weekend go out into the park and have a good long hard practice? And at night just work on finger strength, scales, ffCp etc. with muffling in the soundholes and/or the "acoustic cubbyhole" idea.

    Anyway you do it, keep on picking! And your English reads fine to me.

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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by swampstomper View Post
    Nox,

    Electric is a completely different instrument (same tuning of course!), with its own joys and perils. f that is what you want to learn, your idea is good: you can get headphones that take output directly from the jack and practice with almost no noise. But I don't think it will help your acoustic mandolin technique very much.
    Yes, you are right, anyway i will find other ways
    Quote Originally Posted by swampstomper View Post
    Maybe on the weekend go out into the park and have a good long hard practice? And at night just work on finger strength, scales, ffCp etc. with muffling in the soundholes and/or the "acoustic cubbyhole" idea.
    That's what i did today the weather was good, and so i have spent about 4 hours on the beach, i also got a bit tanned
    Quote Originally Posted by swampstomper View Post
    And your English reads fine to me.
    Thanks so much

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    Registered User Rhinestone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    You could always go down to the park and practice with your case open.....
    -Michael Johnstone-

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    Musical Photo Junkie Chris Keth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    I assume this trick works for mandolins as it does with guitars. When I want to play my guitar late, I'll stuff a towel into the soundhole. It will mute the instrument quite a bit but you can still hear when you're letting things ring or muting them, etc. Maybe a washcloth in each f-hole is the ticket.

  12. #37
    Registered User David Hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    I have a similar problem. Although I have plenty of regular time hours to practice at full volume I am most inclined to want to play when I first get up in the morning. Unfortunately that's 5:00 AM. I live in a condo so it's kinda pushing it to be playing that early in the morning so I'm thinking about getting an electric so I don't have to piss off the neighbors.
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    I have progressed so much faster being able to just wail on my mandolin as loudly as I want. Playing so I can hear the mistakes is where its at. That also ensures I am playing through both strings, am getting good wrist action, nice pop on the chop.

    (If I want to tone the volume down, I switch from my Tortis Style C heavy to a ProPlec, Gilchrist, or Dawg pick and play lighter.)

    First thing I recommend: cement walls. Its made me a world of difference. Plus, my neighbours don't hear my dog when he goes on a barking stint.
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  14. #39
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    Playing quietly...bad?...hmmm...
    It is part of playing and a technique in itself but you need to be careful with it. If you don't play both ways it is easy to get in the habit of only playing quietly, even when you don't need to.

    I guess it depends how quiet you are playing and what you are playing. If you have gone as far as ditching the pick and strumming with your thumb to keep the noise down you have gone too far. If I need to practice quietly I will only practice melody, quiet strumming just does not sound right for me.

    Of course, if you don't want your playing to bother anyone the best thing to do is crank up the song you are playing along to...that way they can't complain about how loud you're playing.

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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    I think it's tragic that there are so many musicians here with wives who apparently don't want to hear them play!

    For me, I was embarrassed to practice anything around my wife because I was embarrassed for my own technique. I knew she could hear so I would practice quietly or, sadly, not practice. Needless to say, I only improved marginally during that time. Late last year, she decided she wanted to learn to play an instrument, and as soon as she bought her violin, I started practicing like no body was listening. What a difference! Of course, she was listening the same as always (as in, not very closely), and soon she was practicing on her own, but not only did her interest or at least tacit approval give me more motivation, it took all of the "weight" I had imagined and removed it. That weight was from my own ideas that I was being a bother to another person.

    I no longer feel that way about music, though. Yes, playing an electric guitar at full volume is obnoxious, and drums are always problematic, but before 10pm you should feel good about playing your instrument. So few people play music for fun, and even fewer practice as much as they should.

    There's a couple other musicians on my block and occasionally, during the summer, you can hear violins or flutes. I think it's wonderful to hear essentially spontaneous music wafting through the streets; far better than lawnmowers and cars.

    For those of you keeping it quiet for spouses, maybe it's time to have a talk about how you NEED to practice. Maybe the annoyance you perceive is simply because she thinks you're ignoring her? Or maybe she's not annoyed at all, except for if she's trying to go to sleep and you're playing in bed ;D Seriously though, so many people have "passive" hobbies that involve mere collecting that it's refreshing to be "into" something that can produce pretty (or at least emotional) responses in yourself and in others.

    My wife's biggest complaint about my music equipment was that I never used it. Now that I'm using it all the time, my wife is happy for me. She likes that I have a hobby, and even more that it's musical. It helped inspire her to start playing something, as well.

  16. #41
    Alden W.
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    A little off topic but,
    Funny you mention that story Eggy, no offense intended but dealing with folks that are embarrassed about their learning is not easy.

    My long-time girlfriend has always played Saxophone and is not self-conscious about it at all. When she started learning fiddle she was a little more so...but not too bad once she got playing. But when I try to tech her guitar it's a different story, she tries to play as quietly as she can so I can't hear her.
    My theory is that she is more self-conscious around me if she is practicing an instrument I that can play. I know she can play guitar when I'm not around...she has shown me how to play a few songs.

    You need to remember, learning to play an instrument is usually a noble thing, not something to be embarrassed about...unless of course, you are learning drums or banjo.

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    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by lone-woodwose View Post
    .. learning to play an instrument is usually a noble thing, not something to be embarrassed about...unless of course, you are learning drums or banjo.
    ... for which (if you're fortunate enough to have 'em) there are out-buildings.

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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by lone-woodwose View Post
    A little off topic but,
    Funny you mention that story Eggy, no offense intended but dealing with folks that are embarrassed about their learning is not easy.

    My long-time girlfriend has always played Saxophone and is not self-conscious about it at all. When she started learning fiddle she was a little more so...but not too bad once she got playing. But when I try to tech her guitar it's a different story, she tries to play as quietly as she can so I can't hear her.
    My theory is that she is more self-conscious around me if she is practicing an instrument I that can play. I know she can play guitar when I'm not around...she has shown me how to play a few songs.

    You need to remember, learning to play an instrument is usually a noble thing, not something to be embarrassed about...unless of course, you are learning drums or banjo.
    No offense taken! It's something that I've been working on for the past year. I'm an adult learner for music; never played anything in school, and picked up double bass in 2005. After taking lessons and practicing sporadically, I moved up from an electric double bass (a "stick") to an actual double bass, last summer. After getting back into it and seeing real improvements, it wasn't until my wife got into fiddling that I really started to "attack" it. And that inspired me to pick up mandolin, since I could learn the same fiddle tunes she was working on (and she could play it, as well).

    And yeah, the act of practicing is what makes or breaks a player, yet is often what so many people don't do. I don't even think it's because they hate practicing, but rather than they'll be embarrassed that they don't sound "better" in some way.

    So yeah, in essentially just the past couple months I've gone through a whole sea change -- just play! I don't sound all that great on mandolin yet, but it's very portable and easy to play whenever. My double bass playing has improved significantly and that encourages my mandolin playing, which makes me feel better about the whole mess.

    I try to get that to rub off on friends, too. With my wife picking up fiddling, we've noticed more friends who say things like "yeah I have a violin/guitar/trumpet, I should really get back into playing it." And we encourage it with "Yeah! Who cares if you don't sound like a virtuoso, just have fun with it!"

  19. #44
    Needs Improvement Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    For me, I was embarrassed to practice anything around my wife because I was embarrassed for my own technique.
    That's part of it for me. Unless it's a piece that I've mastered, I'm a bit embarrassed to practice in front of anyone because I know I'm going to make mistakes. I've noticed as I'm practicing that I'll play extremely quietly on pieces I'm still clawing my way through. But I naturally get a little louder on pieces I'm comfortable with.

    But really, the main reason I try to be quiet is because she complains about hearing the same music over and over. She's to the point where if we drive somewhere, she won't let me listen to bluegrass (or any mandolin music, for that matter) on the CD player. She says I've ruined bluegrass for her by playing it so much that she's sick of it. And there's not much I can do about that.

  20. #45
    Highly Lonesome Marty Henrickson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quiet practice: bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    That's part of it for me. Unless it's a piece that I've mastered, I'm a bit embarrassed to practice in front of anyone because I know I'm going to make mistakes. I've noticed as I'm practicing that I'll play extremely quietly on pieces I'm still clawing my way through. But I naturally get a little louder on pieces I'm comfortable with.

    But really, the main reason I try to be quiet is because she complains about hearing the same music over and over. She's to the point where if we drive somewhere, she won't let me listen to bluegrass (or any mandolin music, for that matter) on the CD player. She says I've ruined bluegrass for her by playing it so much that she's sick of it. And there's not much I can do about that.
    Man, I don't have a solution, but I just wanted to let you know that I can relate. My 5-year-old daughter, who has some mild allergies, even sometimes claims to be allergic to bluegrass music.
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