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Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
riley80 #1894072 05/09/12 09:37 AM
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Sorry, but I'm sympathetic to your spouse. My partner is very tolerant of my practicing, but I wouldn't dream of making him listen to my repetitive practicing, especially when I'm practicing technique - just common courtesy and being considerate. I do most of my practicing on a digital - an old Yamaha P80 (about $150 used on ebay now I notice) with weighted keyboard. I recommend getting a good weighted keyboard, hooking it up to your computer and purchasing top-notch sample grand software. I use Ivory II - it comes with Steinway, Bosendorfer, and Yamaha concert grand samples - love the Bosendorfer. With sample grands you have control over so many parameters you can tweak it to your liking. I agree with what others have said - prepare to pay for the best headphones you can (mine cost around $300) and situate it in a room where you can close the door when you practice so your spouse doesn't have to listen to click, click, click, click….! As an added bonus, when I'm practicing pure technique sometimes I'll lower the volume on the DP, find an interesting article to read online and set my computer to read it to me out loud! Not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm good at multi-tasking grin

Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
sophial #1894079 05/09/12 09:51 AM
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He is sound sensitive due to military service - and has loss of hearing in one ear. He also has become rather housebound, another issue def. not music related. So, it's hard on both of us. I surely don't want to give up the music. I even thought of moving the acoustic into the guest room but it's already kinda crowded with exercise junk etc.

There are times I use the Casio for learning, but for polishing, it sure doesn't cut it.

Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
riley80 #1894094 05/09/12 10:13 AM
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Moving the piano to a separate room where you can close the door, that is as distant as possible from where your spouse hangs out, is a good solution if you have the space. It worked for me. We carved out a very nice practice room on our basement level -- it has windows, heat and A/C, and good lighting -- and my piano playing took a leap forward after that. My husband can still hear me practicing, but it is definitely muffled cf. having it in the same room/floor of the house, and it doesn't disturb him (he says). He often listens to other music while I'm practicing, and that doesn't bother me, either.

If you are in Florida, you probably don't have a basement, but perhaps a small remodeling project, or even just decluttering to clear the guest room for the piano (whether the acoustic or a digital), would solve the problem.


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Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
riley80 #1894097 05/09/12 10:22 AM
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I'm sympathetic to your spouse as well, especially since he has hearing issues due to the military. Our spouses (and neighbors) have lives too and deserve to live in peace, just as we have the right to enjoy doing what we love. Clearly, a compromise is needed, especially in your case due to your husband's problems. So to those that suggest leaving him or forcing him to deal with it despite his hearing difficulties, I suggest some compassion.

I live with my girlfriend on the top floor of a 100+ year old house (i.e., zero sound insulation) with our landlord directly below us, so the digital is my only option right now. And even then, it can be disruptive because of the 'clicking' that so many others have mentioned. My girlfriend actually prefers that I don't use the headphones because the music covers up the clicking and the sound of the pedal. One night my landlord even called me and asked me to stop even though I was using headphones because the banging sound was so loud. In his defense, it was midnight and I was playing a piece with big leaps as forte as possible, which can create a lot of hard thumping through the floor.

So, as others have suggested, get a digital with some headphones and put it in a room where you're as far away from him as possible and close the door. He probably won't hear a thing.

Despite what others have said, I actually don't think that a weighted digital is a bad thing. Sure, it is nowhere near the same feel as a real piano, but I've used this to my advantage. I actually find it much harder to play well on a digital because the keys have to go all the way down to produce a proper sound. Because of this, I've actually been able to eliminate some of the tension that was in my arms in order to strike key bottom, and it has helped my playing immensely. The keys also don't respond very quickly, so playing trills or fast heavy octaves (where you would rely a lot on the rebound from the keyboard) is much harder on a digital. Whenever I play on a real piano now, I'm amazed at how much easier it is and how much better I can play. I've generally noticed that if I play poorly on the digital, I play poorly on a real piano, and vice-versa, so it hasn't affected my practice.

All I'm saying is that you can be compassionate to your husband who must be going through a very difficult time with his hearing problems and being house-bound, and still be able to enjoy playing the piano for more than 10 minutes at a time. You just have to find a compromise that lets you both live peacefully. And even if he didn't have the problems that he has, it can still be very difficult for others at times when you are constantly practicing certain things over and over. I'm currently practicing Vallee d'Obermann - how many of you would like to listen to those extended tremolos at fff over and over again for up to an hour?

Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
riley80 #1894099 05/09/12 10:25 AM
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Here's another suggestion.

When I lived in an apartment (for many years) I visited all my neighbors, gave them my phone number and told them not to hesitate to call me if my practice ever bothered them. Whenever a new tenant moved in I'd do the same. In all the years I lived there not one of them every called to complain. I believe what made a difference, aside from keeping my practice within reasonable hours, was that they knew they had the power to control the situation. Your partner feels no control. Perhaps you could negotiate. I'd make part of the negotiation a promise that I'd always ask if it was OK to practice before doing so, an agreement about exactly how long the practice would last, and a promise that all he/she would have to do would be to ask me (nicely laugh ) to stop and I would (without any resistance or fuss - I'd move to digital). If your partner is given that power it may help. BTW, sounds to me like you could definitely use a better digital.

Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
riley80 #1894102 05/09/12 10:28 AM
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I anticipated neighbor problems when thinking about getting my own instrument to practise on (for a long time, I played on any old piano I could find in anywhere from showrooms to churches to shopping malls....), and realized that the only way to go is digital, and the very best one I could find. That was in 2010, and I've never regretted it since (my digital is the Roland V-Piano which has no speakers - I only use headphones).

And everything I practise on it - finger technique, tonal gradation, dynamics, articulation etc - is transferable to playing on acoustic grands, which I still play on whenever I get the chance: in case you're interested, I've learnt Ravel's Ondine (Gaspard de la nuit), the Franck Violin Sonata in Cortot's transcription, the Yellow River Concerto and some Rachmaninoff and Chopin, amoung much else, totally from scratch using my digital. The number of repetitions I've had to do (over several weeks) of some passages from the Ravel in order to play it fluently from memory must have run into the thousands. Personally, I wouldn't want to have to listen to myself practising, if I wasn't the one practising.... grin

The Roland's key action does produce a clicking/clunking noise (which is less than an acoustic's, if it was possible to isolate the acoustic's key & hammer noise from the string vibrations), but the carpet it is situated on dampens any vibrations.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
riley80 #1894112 05/09/12 10:45 AM
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That's a good point, bennevis: put the digital on a thick carpet, it will help dampen the sounds a great deal.

Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
riley80 #1894122 05/09/12 11:05 AM
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Another possible point: It's actually not necessary to pound the heck out of the piano most of the time. Playing everything softly is much harder to do but more beneficial to technique (as my piano teacher is constantly pointing out), and it's also much easier to listen to.


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Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
Piano Again #1894133 05/09/12 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Piano Again
Playing everything softly is much harder to do but more beneficial to technique


You wouldn't train for a 100m sprint by running lots of reps at 1/2 speed or at the speed you'd run for a marathon. Nor can you train for a marathon by running 100m sprints.

You can certainly 'learn the notes' by playing softly all the time, but you can't learn to play say, Rachmaninoff's Op.23/2 or even Op.23/5 properly by practising softly. Playing fast chords and octaves loudly requires tensing the wrist joint and using the upper arm muscles, using the elbow as the pivot, different from playing them softly. And playing fast passagework loudly requires you to press down very firmly with your forearm with wrists tensed while your fingers dance, very different to playing it softly, which requires control of a different sort.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
bennevis #1894151 05/09/12 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Piano Again
Playing everything softly is much harder to do but more beneficial to technique


You wouldn't train for a 100m sprint by running lots of reps at 1/2 speed or at the speed you'd run for a marathon. Nor can you train for a marathon by running 100m sprints.

You can certainly 'learn the notes' by playing softly all the time, but you can't learn to play say, Rachmaninoff's Op.23/2 or even Op.23/5 properly by practising softly. Playing fast chords and octaves loudly requires tensing the wrist joint and using the upper arm muscles, using the elbow as the pivot, different from playing them softly. And playing fast passagework loudly requires you to press down very firmly with your forearm with wrists tensed while your fingers dance, very different to playing it softly, which requires control of a different sort.


That sure sounds like you play too loud all the time!

In any case, most people do not play piano in big halls where it might be necessary to play as loud as possible. Even people who do play in big halls would be better off if they got their audiences to shut up and listen.


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Re: At wit's end with at-home practice and the complaints
BDB #1894200 05/09/12 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB


That sure sounds like you play too loud all the time!

In any case, most people do not play piano in big halls where it might be necessary to play as loud as possible. Even people who do play in big halls would be better off if they got their audiences to shut up and listen.


To paraphrase Wolfie (Mozart), I only play as loudly as the music requires, sire, no more - and certainly no less grin.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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