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#1863163 - 03/16/12 02:44 PM Piano in a studio apartment?
CleverName Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/11
Posts: 117
Hey all,

I'm a DMA student in piano, have a teaching assitantship, and a faculty position at a small arts school. Things are going well, but my daily schedule is, as you can imagine, quite busy. I currently share a small apartment with a beloved roommate, but he is moving to a new city next year. So, I've been thinking about seizing the opportunity: I want to get a studio apartment next fall. I've ALWAYS had roommates; the prospect of living alone sounds delightful.

In the meantime, my 6 ft Knabe is sitting dormant in my parents' living room. I'm grateful for them housing it while I move around from place to place, but am thinking that now, while I'm at the outset of my doctoral studies and have some semblance of permanence in my residence here, may be a good time to consider moving the piano out to where I live. It would be so wonderful, given my crazy day schedule, to have a piano to practice on at home instead of having to venture/stay at the music school facilities all the time. My question for you all is: do you think it's unrealistic, with small space limitations and neighbors, to see this as feasible? I've spoken with one landlord about it-she said the apartment complex has no problem with it, but it really depends on my neighbors. She seemed to imply that if my neighbors complained about noise, the apartment would side with them. Other landlords won't even really talk to me seriously until the move-in date is closer (we're talking about a July move-in date).

I've love to hear any stories or advice on this. The piano would be making a cross-country move, so it's very expensive. I can't afford to "take a chance" that hopefully I could use the instrument once it's here. What do you guys think?

Thanks, cheers!

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#1863178 - 03/16/12 03:34 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
MarkH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/08
Posts: 828
Loc: Seattle, WA
Space considerations I'm sure would be fine, because they only affect you, and you're obviously dedicated. However, I highly doubt that the sounds you make would not bother your neighbors. I've lived in 5 apartments since I bought my Yamaha Clavinova. The obvious advantage there is that it is much quieter than an actual grand and I can plug in earphones when there's the potential to bother people. Nonetheless, at quite low volumes (equivalent to mp-mf on a grand) I've had banging on the walls and neighbors coming to tell me to stop, and in one apartment, I even had the downstairs neighbor complaining and banging on the wall when I was playing WITH THE HEADPHONES ON. The thudding of the keys in the keybeds was apparently extreme enough that it transferred down through the floor. (That was during the Great Gate of Kiev, not in all of my playing).

One thing that I've noticed is that apartment construction makes a big difference. If the floors are wood, and the walls are plaster (ie. an older apartment), the sound carries through to the next apartment with much greater ease. Drywall and carpet with modern insulation between walls is much better. Nonetheless, in order to avoid complaints, it may be necessary to heavily muffle your piano, to the extent of closing the lid all the way, covering the case, and possibly even covering the underside of the case. This would make your instrument much less responsive and enjoyable, and might also predispose you to injury, as you unconsciously try to play it so that it sounds like you want it to. With all that in mind, in your position, I would spend the piano moving money on a good keyboard to keep in my apartment, and practice the pianos at work when I really needed a piano touch.
_________________________
Currently Studying: Bach - English Suite No. 5; Beethoven - Op. 27 No. 1; Chopin - Op. 27 No. 1; Chopin - 3rd Scherzo

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#1863204 - 03/16/12 04:02 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
Talk to your neighbors, not to us.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1863242 - 03/16/12 04:48 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: BDB]
CleverName Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/11
Posts: 117
Originally Posted By: BDB
Talk to your neighbors, not to us.


Thank you for your super helpful, very polite and not at all crass response. Of course, I don't know who my neighbors are yet, since I don't know where I'll be living, and the whole point of my post was that I'm working through possibilities of where to live next.

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#1863243 - 03/16/12 04:49 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: MarkH]
CleverName Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/11
Posts: 117
Originally Posted By: MarkH
Space considerations I'm sure would be fine, because they only affect you, and you're obviously dedicated. However, I highly doubt that the sounds you make would not bother your neighbors. I've lived in 5 apartments since I bought my Yamaha Clavinova. The obvious advantage there is that it is much quieter than an actual grand and I can plug in earphones when there's the potential to bother people. Nonetheless, at quite low volumes (equivalent to mp-mf on a grand) I've had banging on the walls and neighbors coming to tell me to stop, and in one apartment, I even had the downstairs neighbor complaining and banging on the wall when I was playing WITH THE HEADPHONES ON. The thudding of the keys in the keybeds was apparently extreme enough that it transferred down through the floor. (That was during the Great Gate of Kiev, not in all of my playing).

One thing that I've noticed is that apartment construction makes a big difference. If the floors are wood, and the walls are plaster (ie. an older apartment), the sound carries through to the next apartment with much greater ease. Drywall and carpet with modern insulation between walls is much better. Nonetheless, in order to avoid complaints, it may be necessary to heavily muffle your piano, to the extent of closing the lid all the way, covering the case, and possibly even covering the underside of the case. This would make your instrument much less responsive and enjoyable, and might also predispose you to injury, as you unconsciously try to play it so that it sounds like you want it to. With all that in mind, in your position, I would spend the piano moving money on a good keyboard to keep in my apartment, and practice the pianos at work when I really needed a piano touch.


Thanks-yeah, I had a feeling the construction would probably matter a great deal. The place I looked at today is very new and has very thick walls, but I imagine some sound would still come through...

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#1863244 - 03/16/12 04:49 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2173
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
Being on a groundfloor seems to make a big difference. My piano, NOT a 6 foot grand!, has been in an apartment and a condo. Both groundfloor, and against non-common walls. The guy who lives above me now says he's never heard my piano.

YMMV
_________________________
Gary Schenk

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#1863259 - 03/16/12 05:06 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
celegorma Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/08
Posts: 103
If you picture yourself living in an apartment/condo for a great part of you life, you should really invest in a digital piano. Its easier to move and you can practice at 2am.

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#1863263 - 03/16/12 05:11 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4394
Loc: San Jose, CA
"Thank you for your super helpful, very polite and not at all crass response..."

I guess we can see how this is going to go with the neighbors.

It may be just possible to find a studio-sized unit which has no neighbors who share a wall, ceiling, or floor... or, one whose neighbors are music students who will forgive anything--- if you will.

PS-

BDB is an acquired taste. In time, we can come to enjoy people who write less yet say more, compared to those who write very long posts, but say little.

In either case, there is no guarantee you will agree with the writer.


Edited by Jeff Clef (03/16/12 05:15 PM)
_________________________
Clef


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#1863267 - 03/16/12 05:20 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: Jeff Clef]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3621
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
BDB is an acquired taste. In time, we can come to enjoy people who write less yet say more, compared to those who write very long posts, but say little.

But don't forget that there are two other logical possibilities: the people who write less and say little, and the people who write more and say much.

-J
_________________________
Schoenberg op.10+k, Beethoven op.100+k for k=9
Schubert D.899/4, Chopin op.25/2

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#1863280 - 03/16/12 05:35 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
pianoanne Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 649
Loc: Pacific NW
Just thought I would share my experience of a similar situation...
When I was a full time Grad student I bought a piano thinking the same thing you are. It ended up being more of a burden for me. I ended up in bad apt situations and had to move a few times, the piano really limited where I could live and was a big expense to move as well. Your hours are limited on the piano too so I mostly practiced at school anyways. Moving a piano cross country is at least 2k so there is that to consider as well. Also, I live in a completely different region of the country to where I went to school, so I decided to sell my piano when I moved, I got less than half of what I paid for it. Now that I am working and pretty sure I will be staying here for a while, I actually bought a new piano, and feel better about it this time.

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#1863313 - 03/16/12 06:47 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: Jeff Clef]
CleverName Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/11
Posts: 117
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
"Thank you for your super helpful, very polite and not at all crass response..."

I guess we can see how this is going to go with the neighbors.

It may be just possible to find a studio-sized unit which has no neighbors who share a wall, ceiling, or floor... or, one whose neighbors are music students who will forgive anything--- if you will.

PS-

BDB is an acquired taste. In time, we can come to enjoy people who write less yet say more, compared to those who write very long posts, but say little.

In either case, there is no guarantee you will agree with the writer.


Thanks for the suggestions. It's starting to sound less and less plausible, based on the responses here (thank you to everyone for your stories!)

I've actually been on this forum since 2002 (I lost my old password and had to make a new account), and am familiar with BDB. My problem is not that he "wrote less," it's that he completely ignored what I wrote before giving a snarky reply. No one else seemed to have trouble understanding what I was asking, based on their replies. I was looking for anecdotes and suggestions from people who may have tried this (moving a piano into an apartment) before, so that I may learn from their experiences.

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#1863322 - 03/16/12 07:11 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
Bex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/08
Posts: 94
Loc: Southern California
I agree about investing in a good digital piano. You'll lessen your anxiety re playing too loudly and/or too late for your neighbors and lower your keyboard moving cost when you do move out of the studio apt.

I have both a grand and a digital piano. Bought the grand after the digital, and the latter is useful in gigs.
_________________________
On the piano stand:
Widmung
Partita in c minor
Jardins sous la pluie

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#1863442 - 03/16/12 11:53 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1242
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
If you are able to move into a modern apartment building with thick concrete floors and concrete walls, and you want to figure out how to do a bit of soundproofing, and you'll only play for an hour or so a day at reasonable volume, you might be ok with your Knabe.

But it's still a crapshoot, and it's a lousy feeling knowing that neighbors hate you. Which some will. Not a way to further your career in your community.

Is there any way you could rent a little detached house?
Or find a building full of artists and musicians?
Or buy such a building and become your own landlord?

I've been through all these travails over the years, including one angry neighbor who wanted to shut down my teaching practice. Even if the law is on your side regarding the reasonable enjoyment of an acoustic piano, things can easily become nerve-wrenching.

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#1863449 - 03/17/12 12:18 AM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Casio PX130 and some headphones.
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1863522 - 03/17/12 07:06 AM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
Eglantine Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 01 2013


Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 804
Loc: Another Country
Find an apartment next to a noisy factory ;-)

I've found in the past that modern concrete construction also transmits a lot of vibrations. It's not just the noise per se, but vibration - transmitted through the floor and then into the structure - that can bother people.

I acquired my piano from someone who was renting and had to move in a hurry when her landlord gave her notice that he was selling up. She had nowhere to store the piano while she looked for somewhere else to live. I don't know about the US, but in the UK I wouldn't move a piano into a place if I was only renting it.
_________________________
Currently working on: F. Couperin - Preludes & Sweelinck - Fantasia Chromatica
J.S. Bach, Einaudi, Purcell, Froberger, Croft, Blow, Frescobaldi, Glass, Couperin
1930s upright (piano) & single manual William Foster (harpsichord)


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#1863596 - 03/17/12 10:43 AM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
dsch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 325
Loc: florida
If you put a grand in a studio apartment mostly you will be staring at it wistfully and itching to play it but your neighbors will whine.

There was a lawsuit a few years ago in my town about a piano major in an apartment whose playing drove her neighbors nuts. One of her neighbors sued her. I can't recall the outcome but boy, did I feel for her.

Get a digital.


Edited by dsch (03/17/12 02:40 PM)

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#1863701 - 03/17/12 02:09 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
bennevis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4395
I never played on a digital until two years ago (I've played on acoustics since I was 10), when I realized that if I ever wanted to own my own instrument, it will have to be a digital, and playing with headphones. I live in a small apartment surrounded by neighbors (both sides, and below) but though the soundproofing is good - I can only hear sounds from below when people are talking very loudly, or they are having a party, but almost nothing from either side - I realize that if I bought an acoustic, I'd never be able to play it properly, i.e. at normal dynamic range (anything above mf would certainly cause problems). And it seemed pointless to me to have an instument in my home that I can't ever play properly (because there's always someone in the apartment below), and risk damaging my hard-earned technique if I practised exclusively on it.

Buying my Roland V-Piano digital in 2010 was one of the best musical decisions I'd ever made...

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#1863718 - 03/17/12 02:49 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
LadyChen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/25/12
Posts: 521
Loc: Canada
I used to live in an apartment style condo building. I just slipped a note under the doors of my two neighbours, explaining that I was a pianist, but would restrict my practicing to between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., and that they should give me a call if it was overly disruptive. Neither of them ever called me, so I guess it was okay!

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#1863738 - 03/17/12 03:26 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
That is pretty much what I said. Talking to the neighbors will give you a better idea of how much sound transmits through the building, as well as their sensitivity to it.

You could probably get away with a clavichord anywhere you want to move. (Perhaps not a Clavinova if you have a big amp.) But it is not a piano. Neither is a digital keyboard.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1863824 - 03/17/12 06:16 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: LadyChen]
nycplayer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 209
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: LadyChen
I used to live in an apartment style condo building. I just slipped a note under the doors of my two neighbours, explaining that I was a pianist, but would restrict my practicing to between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., and that they should give me a call if it was overly disruptive. Neither of them ever called me, so I guess it was okay!

I would like to be able to operate in a similar fashion with my neighbors. I hesitated initially, though, as a result of an unrelated incident I had with one of my neighbors. Basically, he complained about debris in his apartment that he figured was related to renovation work in my apartment that I had given him a head's up on. The problem is that the debris he referred to occurred before my renovation had actually begun. Who knows, maybe it was an unfortunate coincidence.

In any case, the power of suggestion made me pause and I held off on informing him when I got my acoustic piano. After some time had passed without any noise complaints I happened to be standing in the elevator with him and figured that I would casually ask if he could hear me playing. He immediately commented about he could hear someone playing "all the time". There was no way that I played all the time. I was lucky if I could get in 45 minutes when I got back from work. The same went for weekends. Again, who knows, noise travels in a funny fashion and maybe he really did hear someone playing an instrument constantly.

My conclusion was to abide my building's rules about noise and leave things at that. That said, I do try to be a good neighbor and break up any lengthier practice sessions, try to practice pieces involving greater sound during the day, or at least not late in the evening, etc. I'm not a professional musician or even a serious amateur so we're not talking about extended practice to begin with. But when I hear neighbor's renovation work, loud parties or screaming kids I figure I should also feel entitled to practice piano on a reasonable basis without worrying too much.

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#1863828 - 03/17/12 06:19 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: BDB]
nycplayer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 209
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: BDB
That is pretty much what I said. Talking to the neighbors will give you a better idea of how much sound transmits through the building, as well as their sensitivity to it.

Yes, though the OP would run the risk of any new neighbors being more sensitive to sound than the prior tenants, and complaining.

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#1863971 - 03/18/12 02:38 AM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
It behooves someone who has found a place that accepts his or her piano playing to line up additional potential tenants who will be as tolerant in case of a vacancy.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1864015 - 03/18/12 07:28 AM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
I’ve been trying to imagine any sound worse than a keyboard student clunking away for hours at the ivories ... perhaps a pneumatic drill or my mother-in-law’s tongue (just kidding!),

Other than an guaranteed soundproof box in which to practice in situ , it would seem apt (before a morning 20-pace duel with the neighbour) to move to Siberia.
(the Russians are said to be keen on music).

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#1864129 - 03/18/12 12:18 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
AldenH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas
You might consider a silent Virgil Practice Clavier in addition to a decent electric keyboard. I find mine extremely helpful.

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#1864171 - 03/18/12 01:42 PM Re: Piano in a studio apartment? [Re: CleverName]
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17670
Loc: Victoria, BC
One of the problems that the OP may eventually face is finding an appropriate apartment without knowing, until the piano is moved in, whether the piano will be a bother to neighbours. It's not as if pianos and serious piano students are common tenants in modern apartments. In many instances comparisons with TV's and stereos are not always apt.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190 in satin ebony
Writing from Paris until 15 May, 2014

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