How To Play Trumpet In An Apartment Without Disturbing Neighbors?

soundproofed apartment for trumpet playing

Playing Trumpet In Apartment Without Disturbing Neighbors  How to Soundproof Plus Other Tips

If you live in an apartment with lot’s of angry neighbors around you, and you happen to be a trumpet player, you could be making enemies faster than you can say “double high c”

I have lived in many apartments and houses, during my years of playing the trumpet, and in this article I’m going to share a few tips on how you can make playing trumpet in apartments easier for both you and your neighbors.

Practicing trumpet in apartment, is it even possible? Dive in and learn about soundproofing as well as other tips…

Playing trumpet in an apartment?
Your four options…

Trumpet players just have to practice. There is no way getting around that fact and playing trumpet in an apartment can undoubtedly be accompanied with problems in many forms. But we still have to practice and that leaves us with a few options here…

  1. Talk to you neighbors and figure out a schedule
  2. Practice only pianissimo (very softly)
  3. Use a practice mute
  4. Soundproof a room in your apartment, for example the bedroom or your working room

So let’s take a look at these four options, one by one, so you can figure out in what way to approach this, would be best. Sometimes a combination of a few of these options are the best way to go, if you have no other place to practice your beloved horn than in your thin-walled apartment.

Talk to your neighbors about a potential schedule

This is the most undesirable option and perhaps the one most unlikely to present a good solution, however it  could still work to some degree so that’s why I still have it on the list of options.

Perhaps you have a few close neighbors and there may be a point of day when all of them are working or having something else to do outside of their home. By either talking to them or doing a bit of detective work you can find this out, and if such a time period exists, and you happen to be free at that time, well then you have just found yourself one good practice opportunity.

Another way of going at this would be to ask your neighbors if there would be a short time of the day when they could possible withstand about 30 minutes of “trumpet hell”, if you were to promise to limit yourself to only that hour of the day.

I understand this is not the most desirable option and talking to your neighbors about this may be very unpleasant, so let’s move on to the next option…

Playing trumpet in apartment
Practice only pianissimo (very softly)

In order to not start world war 3 with your neighbors, another possibility would be to practice at very soft volumes. Practicing trumpet at pianissimo levels are actually good for developing control over the embouchure, however….

…we can no always be practicing pianissimo. This would lead to an unbalance in our playing and cause “one side ness” to form. We have to be able to work with the full dynamic range of the trumpet.

But could this tip be combined with the first one? As,you figure out what time of day your neighbors are out and then you, of course, are able to practice more loud dynamics at those hours. And then, the rest of the time, you are again limited to only pianissimo playing. Buy approaching it this way, at least you would get some decent practicing into your routines…

…still very inconvenient and messy but a heck of a lot better than not practicing at all.

Let’s move on…

Practicing trumpet in apartment
Use a good practice mute

Using a good practice mute could be a nice option, if you want to practice trumpet in an apartment without disturbing your neighbors. There are good practice mutes that are so quiet that the people around you would not be able to hear one single note.

Take a look at my article what is the best trumpet practice mutes to find out more info about them.

Not all of your playing should be done with a mute

Now, we do not want to do all of our practicing with a practice mute. This is because they have a bit of a resistance to them so, when we are using them, we are not using our air exactly the same way as when we are playing the trumpet freely, without a mute.

If we only keep practicing with a practice mute we might develop “an alternate” way of playing the trumpet, and this is not good as it could really mess us up. Then when we go somewhere and have to play something without the mute, we suddenly find us in big trouble, since we are not used to it.

However, The trumpet practice mute approach could also be combined with the first two alternatives. And along with pianissimo playing without a mute, and more loud playing when your neighbors are out, and then using the practice mute at other times besides those, now you are already starting to have quite a few options. So at this point the excuse to NOT practice the trumpet are starting to become weak…

… I’m sorry to say.

Of course it is still not optimal if you really want to have freedom and practice whenever and however the heck you want. As most trumpeter do.

So let’s move on…

Playing trumpet in apartment
Soundproof a whole room

This is of course not the cheapest option but if you really want to play the trumpet seriously and you have a problematic relationship to your neighbors and moving to another place is out of the question, then it is something you might want to consider doing.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how one would go about doing this…

How to soundproof a room for playing the trumpet in your apartment

Ok, this will of course mean that you have some work to do, but don’t worry, it can still be done fairly easy, depending on exaclty how much noise you want the room to “absorb” and not leak out.

This is how you do it…

How to soundproof a room for playing the trumpet
#1 Find the places that leaks sound

We don’t want to cut off all the openings and ways the air get’s in and out of the room but we can drastically reduce the amount of sound getting out from the room, by sealing off many of the biggest air leaks. Because, of course, if the air can get out from the room, so can the sound of your loud high “C’s” you want to play on that otherwise quiet and peaceful Saturday afternoon.

Your first target: The door

The door is the most obvious source of air leaks. Something like a  door draft stopper can instantly reduce the amount of sound leaking out from the room. 

Step 1: Install a door draft stopper
Click image to check prices on door draft stoppers on Amazon

By doing this you might already have reduced the sound coming out of the room by perhaps as much as 10-30% but this is obviously not enough, so let’s move on...

Your second  target: The windows

By putting up heavy and think, noise reducing blackout drapes, you will instantly reduce the amount of trumpet sound leaking out from the room. With these drapers, in combination with the the door draft stopper you are well on your way to be able to practice trumpet in your apartment, without starting a neighborhood war.

Step 2: Get some heavy noise reducing window drapes
Click the image to check the current pricing on Amazon

These drapes blocks the sound as well as the light and since the door and the window are the two biggest sources of sound leaks (of course that depends on your apartment but generally speaking) you have already done quite a lot to reduce the amount of sound, people outside of the room are able to hear.

If you were only practice softly this might already be enough, but in order for you to be able to really practice whatever you want, we have to do something about the walls as well…

…and also, the door might be hollow and almost act as a resonate chamber, only to further amplify the trumpet sound. Even if not hollow, a lot of sound will still get through the door.

The solution is the next step…

How to soundproof a room for playing the trumpet

These foam panels do a great job at stopping the trumpet sound from getting out of the room. Cover the door and as much as the walls you feel that is necessary.

STEP 3: Add foam panels on the walls and the door
Generally this product is priced well compared to similar items, click image to check price on Amazon cause it’s always changing a bit

Note that you do not have to cover every single inch of your walls in order for them to be effective. Even if you only cover 30-40% of your walls it will significantly reduce the amount of trumpet noise leaving the room. But, of course, the more of your walls you do cover, the more effective it will be. 

By the way, I don’t really like calling it “trumpet noise” since my brass playing heart is bleeding when I see those words. I’d rather use the words “trumpet sound”…

….but I’d be willing to bet that”trumpet noise” is the phrase the angry neighbors are using.

The above three steps will do the trick

By doing these three steps you will be able to practice your trumpet anytime you want, even if you live in an apartment with annoying neighbors, complaining about the trumpet noise. Except of course in the middle of the night, since the above steps will not make your room 100% trumpet soundproof. There is still going to be be some trumpet noise going through the walls. However it will be good enough for most apartments.

Of course it can be done better

If you want to build a whole room that is 100% soundproof, however, you are looking at a cost of thousands and thousands of dollars…

…the way I described above, in the three steps, is the cheapest way so I figured most people would be interested in that, since it is almost guaranteed to be effective enough for you to be able to practice your trumpet…

…however, if you really want to do a big investment, then take a look at the soundproof building material you can find on Amazon, like for example the real thick and big panels to cover your whole room, as well as special windows, and so on. But again, in that case you have to be ready to really open your wallet.

A room inside your room

If you do want 100% isolation of the sound, and a perfect soundproof room, then another cheaper option you have is to build a really small room inside one of your rooms in your apartment, and then make that small room 100% soundproof, instead of a whole apartment room. Just keep in mind that it might not be that pleasant to spend hours and hours of practicing in that tiny place…

…and if you are claustrophobic, you can pretty much forget that idea, right away =)

Practicing trumpet in apartment
Conclusion

So there you have it. I hope you will find a few of these tips helpful and, perhaps you will do a combination of them all, in order to be able to practice trumpet in your apartment. Because one thing if for sure…

…playing such a difficult musical instrument as the trumpet means that we really have to log in the practice hours. And we should never let our current living situation become an excuse of doing so.

Thank you for reading the article about practicing trumpet in an apartment.

-Robert Slotte-

P.S. What does your living space look like? Can you practice trumpet in your apartment or do you live in your own house? Perhaps you are lucky enough to be able to practice in a music school or some other place? Please comment in the comment section down below how you are solving this problem.