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#1448558 - 06/02/10 02:55 AM Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing
MarcoM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 246
In my city the 'noise bylaw' is stated as follows:

No person shall play or operate any radio, stereophonic equipment or other instrument or any apparatus for the production or amplification of sound either in or on private premises or in any public place in such a manner as to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the neighbourhood or of persons in the vicinity.

this seems awfully broad to me because depending on neighbours ANY sort of noise could really be included: I keep going back & forth with the idea of buying a small/medium grand (hopefully voiced to not be super loud) but living in a townhouse it always gives me pause, because even if today's neighbours are ok with piano playing, tomorrow's neighbours might not be, and it would definitely be an issue spending a significant amount of $$$ only to end up possibly not being able to play at all!

Has anybody ever had to deal with similar bylaws? Any idea why they are formulated so broadly? I am originally from Europe and in my old home country there were specific exceptions for musical instruments playing (usually explicitly allowed between 4pm and 7pm) so one was fairly sure that no matter how fussy the neighbours, there was a minimum of legal protection.

Not that I plan on playing at 2am (the digital is more than fine for that) but considering the above legally there doesn't seem to be any sort of 'safe time' or 'safe volume', as much as I did enjoy trying out the AvantGrand at the store downtown I am not sure I'd want to spend that much $$$ on a digital...

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#1448562 - 06/02/10 02:59 AM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: MarcoM]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
My kinda bylaw. I sit in my flat surrounded on all sides by others and yet it's quiet. If a pianist were to move in next door I'd go nuts!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1448583 - 06/02/10 04:23 AM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
You are reading it from one perspective. However, this type of wording can be read to include intent. Hence: " no person shall operate in such a manner as to disturb".

If you are not operating it with the intent to disturb, and if you are acting reasonably, then you have little to worry about. Complainers would surely need to show that you are causing a nuisance. If you can demonstrate that you act with courtesy and consideration - i.e. by rarely playing loudly and by confining your playing to sensible hours, then I would suggest you will be fine.
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#1448652 - 06/02/10 08:42 AM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: AJB]
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1752
I think that AJB is absolutely correct. Any law like that has a "reasonableness" element added to it, by common understanding. Otherwise, no one in your community could ever have a party, play any music outdoors, hold a concert that was audible outside the concert hall, have a parade, etc. You get the idea. The laws are designed to enable the city to deter unreasonable noisemaking--someone playing an amplifier outdoors at two am, and the like. I live in a condo, and play the piano (a grand). As long as I am considerate, no one has the right to complain. (My self-imposed hours are nine a.m. to nine p.m.)

So don't worry!

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#1448658 - 06/02/10 09:02 AM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Rank Piano Amateur]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10452
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
I would discuss the matter with whoever is charged with enforcement.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1448712 - 06/02/10 11:12 AM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Steve Cohen]
NoctuGranes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/07
Posts: 285
Loc: Northeast USA
...or ride a Harley around late every evening. God bless'em, but if that's "reasonable" than ANY piano playing must also be.

Seriously, to Steve's point, your bylaw is curious, but it only becomes relevant when the enforcement is ringing your doorbell. This seems quite unlikely unless you have an ongoing feud with a neighbor.
_________________________
-Nocty
Not in the piano business.
1906 Baldwin C rebuilt 2008

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#1448735 - 06/02/10 11:42 AM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: MarcoM]
Mike Carr Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 714
Loc: BANNED
Marco,

If the cops are called they will come. Best hope they're piano lovers.


Mike
_________________________
smoke 'em if you got 'em

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#1448740 - 06/02/10 11:53 AM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Mike Carr]
Jasper82 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/10
Posts: 118
Loc: Ann Arbor MI
I'm worried about my neighbors too... the walls are thin! You can hear a phone ring or a microwave shut from next door. Apparently people own pianos where I live so I'm gonna give it a chance. But I am nervous about it.
_________________________
Yamaha CP20
Yamaha EL25
Baldwin Hamilton Studio Upright 1963
http://jdsy.bandcamp.com/album/solo-piano-improv

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#1448778 - 06/02/10 01:07 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Jasper82]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 852
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
This bylaw SEEMS to be oriented towards stereos and T.V. It's also very broad. Is this a regulation of an apartment or Condo as opposed to a true city ordinance? Most city ordinances spell out a definition for what is considered excessive noise. In many cities, the practicing of ACOUSTIC instruments during reasonable hours (similar to construction hours) is protected. Several court cases have been settled that "the right to peaceful enjoyment of the habitation" is not the same as a right to silence. The key point is that the noise has to be considered excessive to be a violation. As an example, in Miami FL, execessive starts when the the noise/music is plainly heard at a distance of 100 feet from the residence.

Do some reading and know your rights. A call to the dirstric attorney's office may help. Do not ask the police. Their job is to handle complaints. They (like landlords) will tell the musician to stop in order to stop the complaining even when the musician is within his rights to practice.

Kurt
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#1448798 - 06/02/10 01:36 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: KurtZ]
MarcoM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 246
Originally Posted By: KurtZ
This bylaw SEEMS to be oriented towards stereos and T.V. It's also very broad. Is this a regulation of an apartment or Condo as opposed to a true city ordinance?


that is actually a city ordinance, my townhouse complex bylaw is also very similar. Oriented towards people with boomboxes or not the paragraph does seem to cover any possible source of sound. Note there are other parts of it I didn't paste, for example

1. No person shall make or cause, or permit to be made or caused, any noise in or on a public or private place which disturbs or tends to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort, or convenience of any person or persons in the neighbourhood or vicinity.

2. No person being the owner or occupier of real property shall allow or permit such real property to be used so that noise or sound which emanates therefrom, disturbs or tends to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort, or convenience of any person or persons in the neighbourhood or vicinity.


etc. etc. it is really really broad and seems a very easy bylaw to use regardless what your neighbours are doing to annoy you.

Originally Posted By: KurtZ
Do some reading and know your rights. A call to the dirstric attorney's office may help.


this is Canada so we don't have a DA smile

Also, btw, yeah, pianos are acoustic but for example I doubt the neighbours would be happy if I started playing my acoustic drumkit or if I picked up the bagpipes wink

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#1448805 - 06/02/10 01:51 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: MarcoM]
Monica K. Online   blank

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17747
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
The troubling part of that bylaw is the phrase, "disturb the quiet." It's one thing to say that you can't blast music/noise at irritatingly high volumes. It's another to say that you aren't permitted to make any noise at all, which is what a strict reading of that law would imply.

I'm guessing that it's written much more stringently than it's actually enforced, but I don't blame you for being rather nervous about it.
_________________________
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#1448812 - 06/02/10 02:00 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Monica K.]
MarcoM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 246
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
I'm guessing that it's written much more stringently than it's actually enforced, but I don't blame you for being rather nervous about it.


seems to me that with laws one needs to go with the most stringent interpretation to be on the safe side, it does even say 'tends to disturb' which is even 'less' than 'disturb', I mean, reading that bylaw theoretically you wouldn't even be allowed to have a bad cough since that might be a hassle for your neighbours to listen to, let alone people that enjoy things like woodworking etc. that require the use of power tools.

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#1448814 - 06/02/10 02:04 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: MarcoM]
thumper49 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 170
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I have lived in several provinces in Canada, and been a renter in three. All of my rental agreements expressly forbid musical instruments of any kind. I was always amazed that people in places such as Europe and New York could find apartments where they were allowed to play an instrument.

Currently I own a townhouse in a condo development. Our condo bylaws are very vague, and prohibit occupants from making "undue noise" in their units or the common outdoor areas. "Undue noise" is not defined,and is going to mean something different to the twenty-something university students in no. 146 than it does to the parents of two small children in no. 127. Heck, it could even mean that somebody doesn't mind that you play, but they don't like your choice of music! Our city bylaw forbids any noise that is a disturbance to others between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. with the exception of: pre-authorized events, noise caused by emergency vehicles or train whistles or snow removal equipment or church bells. I guess that means you can disturb to your heart's content between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.

I play my acoustic piano with the practice pedal engaged unless I know that my neighbours on both sides are out (I can see their parking spots from the piano bench). I do play on rare occasions after 10:00 p.m., but only with the practice pedal on. So far, no one has complained. One neighbour says she enjoys it (lucky me, she's a cop), the other is very easy-going. That could change if they ever move. If anyone came after me for playing the piano, I'd invoke the city by-law. I'm not too worried about the condo board, since I'm on it, as is my police-officer neighbour.
_________________________



Currently working on: Suzuki Piano School, book 4, second half

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#1448818 - 06/02/10 02:19 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Monica K.]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
Nolo Press has several books that cover the legal aspects of this issue--- including pianos. Here is a link to a fairly long article on the general subject of noise:

http://www.nolo.com/products/neighbor-law-NEI.html

And working the link backwards, you can get to the list of books they offer. A library may have them.

To boil it down: a reasonable and considerate piano-playing neighbor, who practices at reasonable hours, is as protected as (for example) noisy garbage trucks, neighbors with children who play outside, televisions, stereos, dogs, the noise from freeways and airports, lawnmowers... etc.
_________________________
Clef


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#1448831 - 06/02/10 02:36 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: thumper49]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10452
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
I think this law is part of a communistic/facistic/anti-humanistic/extremist plot on the part of government to register and eventially take away our pianos! It is the first step on that slippery slope to g-d knows where. But wherever it leads, I don't want to go there!

We should all take to the streets and take our governance out of the hands of the monsters who have passes such unconstitutional legislation. I'm only happy playing Rachmaninov at 3AM. The costitution doesn't mince works giving me the right to Happiness!

Piano owners unite now, or your piano might be next!

Piano dealers, if this confiscation isn't stopped the undergroud piano market will be even more difficult than the recession that these same commies have created. NOW is the time to rise up against this oppression.

PM me for detail on the overthrow plans!!!
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1448832 - 06/02/10 02:36 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Jeff Clef]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8422
Loc: Georgia, USA
Wow, I guess I’m very fortunate to live smack-dab in the middle of my little 20 acre farm. My closest neighbor is 100 yards away as is the public road at my driveway entrance. I can play my grand piano as loud and as long as I want anytime of the day or night. I have played it at 3:00am in the morning when I couldn’t sleep; I can bang out and pound away at those oldie rock-n-roll tunes of the 50’s and 60’s anytime I want; I can turn up the volume on my PA system and play and sing to my heart’s content (not that I can do either all that well grin).

My two grown sons moved out to their own homes years ago, and my wife, who is severely disabled, likes my music anytime of the day or night (so she says).

I guess I need to count my blessings.

I can see where a noise ordinance would be needed and necessary in densely populated apartment complexes, condominiums and other housing communities. Unfortunately, not all such ordinances are clearly defined or worded.

Take care,

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1448889 - 06/02/10 04:21 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Rickster]
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 1233
Loc: Ohio, US
My nephew just rented a small townhouse and its rules were very similar to the OP's, basicaly don't make a peep...ever, no matter the time of day. Absolutely ridiculous. Its just unnatural to expect people to live like that.
_________________________
I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.


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#1448898 - 06/02/10 04:37 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Rickster]
the nosy ape Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 710
Loc: Westford, MA
Originally Posted By: Rickster
Wow, I guess I’m very fortunate to live smack-dab in the middle of my little 20 acre farm. My closest neighbor is 100 yards away as is the public road at my driveway entrance. I can play my grand piano as loud and as long as I want anytime of the day or night. I have played it at 3:00am in the morning when I couldn’t sleep; I can bang out and pound away at those oldie rock-n-roll tunes of the 50’s and 60’s anytime I want; I can turn up the volume on my PA system and play and sing to my heart’s content (not that I can do either all that well grin).

My two grown sons moved out to their own homes years ago, and my wife, who is severely disabled, likes my music anytime of the day or night (so she says).

I guess I need to count my blessings.

I can see where a noise ordinance would be needed and necessary in densely populated apartment complexes, condominiums and other housing communities. Unfortunately, not all such ordinances are clearly defined or worded.

Take care,

Rick

My nearest neighbor and the road are over 100 yards away from my house, but if tried playing at 3:00 in the morning my wife would probably dent a frying pan on my thick skull.

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#1448926 - 06/02/10 05:18 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: the nosy ape]
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Kind of sad if you can't play a piano.

If it were me I would contact the responsible authorities and ask for a ruling on this, I would want something in writing specifically regarding a piano.

Please keep us posted.
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#1448929 - 06/02/10 05:21 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Stevester]
MarcoM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 246
I've looked around at neighboring cities and they all seem to have a carbon copy version of the bylaw, not much to be done it seems! Also goes to show why while running/biking around I've never ever heard anybody play any sort of instrument, which is kind of sad of course.

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#1448960 - 06/02/10 06:05 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: MarcoM]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2323
Loc: UK
Isn't one of the problems that piano practice tends to be rather unmusical? At least mine does. Lots of repetitive phrases and bars, bad notes, scales, missed tempo, wrong dynamics, incomplete melodies, bad harmony, etc. The whole point of practice is to get them right. That's what I imagine would annoy neighbours. It would certainly annoy me if I heard my neighbour practising the way I do. I use a DP with headphones when they are in.

I do play one or two pieces decently during practice, but most of the time my practice sounds horrible!

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#1448962 - 06/02/10 06:08 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: MarcoM]
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
What City?
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#1448965 - 06/02/10 06:11 PM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Stevester]
MarcoM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 246
these are basically all the cities in the Lower Mainland, BC (Vancouver, Surrey, Port Moody, etc.)

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#1449202 - 06/03/10 01:49 AM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: MarcoM]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
I live in a rural area...no noise restrictions really. One of the neighbors has a craptastic garage band. You really can't hear anything at the distance but the bass guitar and kick drum since high frequencies are absorbed quickly. That's annoying. Anyone who complains about a piano in an ordinary residential area is an idiot, and hasn't heard anything remotely disruptive.

However, that's different in a flat since you share walls in most cases.


Edited by Horowitzian (06/03/10 01:52 AM)
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1449292 - 06/03/10 07:29 AM Re: Overly broad 'noise bylaws' and piano playing [Re: Horowitzian]
timbo77 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 268
Loc: Singapore
If the bylaw is to be interpreted in a manner similar to English law (which is possible, given that this is, I understand, a Canadian law) then the phrase "disturb the quiet..." etc may have a specific meaning that is often abbreviated to a resident's right to "quiet enjoyment". This is not to be understood literally as entitling someone to sit in their apartment and not hear anything at all from one's neighbour. Rather, the law is intended to convey that a resident's "enjoyment" (= use) of his/her property is not disturbed by noise pollution that is out of the ordinary for the particular time of day in that particular area. In other words, playing the piano during the day at reasonable hours and not for excessively long periods would not in my opinion constitute a breach of the bylaw.

I can't promise the same analysis applies in Canada (and no-one should rely on the above as legal advice)!

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