Mute Flute?

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wulf
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Mute Flute?

Post by wulf » Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:42 am

Is there any way to significantly reduce the volume of my flute while still developing my breathing and tone as well as fingering? I've recently started learning (electric bass is my main instrument - you can turn that down or play unplugged) and want to practise enough to make quick progress but don't want to annoy my neighbours (I live in a flat).

After some searching around, the main solutions seem to be either sitting inside a closed wardrobe (like a soundproof room but small, dark and stuffed full of clothes!) or practising fingering without breathing (which will help, although won't give audible feedback on whether I've got the fingering right).

I imagine that the question is not uncommon. What answers would you suggest?

Thanks,

Wulf

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Phineas
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Post by Phineas » Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:52 am

Wulf

I have lived in a lot of hotels, and apartments. Sound proofing is a lot of work. Getting to know your neighbors will take you a long way.

1. Try to practice at the same time everyday. This makes it easier to your neighbors to deal with your practice. 6 to 8pm is usually when I choose to play.

2. Find out the work schedule of your neighbors. People are usually tolerant if you are not waking them up.

3. Avoid prime time. I try to avoid playing at a high volume when most popular TV shows come on.

4. Try to pick times when the building is empty to try out strange passages. Playing in an apartment building is almost like performing. More people are listening than you think. Most people will appreciate a flute player in their building. However, other than scales, you may want to avoid strange sounding exercises at times.

5. If you have to, bribe the old folks. Snacks and booze(beer) can go a long way here. Some people just like to know that they are being considered.

I travel alot, and stay in hotels. I have never gotten a complaint from anyone following these guidelines.

I hope this helps.

Phineas

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woof
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Re: Mute Flute?

Post by woof » Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:52 pm

wulf wrote:Is there any way to significantly reduce the volume of my flute while still developing my breathing and tone as well as fingering? I've
Wulf
Depending on the design of the apartment or hotel often bathrooms are back to back. Thus playing in the bathroom may carry less into the next room where people spend a lot of time. And tho the acoustics are not good for you, you can reduce the volume of your playing a lot and still hear what you play. I don't travel a lot but when I do I usually play between 9- 11 am when people are out on errands or not tired and settled in for the evening etc. On the receiving end of this I have rarely enjoyed listening to anyone practice in adjacent rooms, even if they were good. Usually you can only hear some of the notes clearly so even it the playing is great and music enjoyable you just get muffled noise. It can certainly be a problem, as Phineas suggested it might be good to talk with your neighbors and find out what their schedules are and let them know you are concerned about disturbing them. I wonder about playing in your car?? Never tried that???

fluttiegurl
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Post by fluttiegurl » Sat Apr 05, 2008 6:58 am

The biggest issues that come with not practicing out loud are lack of tone development, breathing and articulation can suffer as well, so it is very important to practice at your full volume whenever possible. Have you ever considered practicing somewhere outside of your home? My favorite place to practice is a church because it also gives me the added bonus of the stage and great acoustics. I also have a local music store that will let me use the upstairs room when it is unoccupied (that actually benefits them as well). Do you know any local business owners who may met you practice before/after hours? What about a friend's house? The bad thing about this is you can't just get up and practice whenever you want in your underwear, but it is most definitely an idea to consider. :D

I too play in hotels quite a bit. Aside from requesting a room that is as far from others as possible (which you can't do in an apartment), getting to know who is around you and simply displaying courteousy helps a great deal. When I lived in an apartment, I practiced at home when I knew no one was around or when it would least likely be a bother. Simply letting people know what you are doing can also gain a lot of respect from them. Non musicians tend to be more fascinated by what we do than annoyed.

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wulf
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Post by wulf » Sat Apr 05, 2008 9:40 am

I have the privilege of being one of the leaders of a church which has its building just round the corner from where I live so I can go up and practise loudly there once in a while (it does has neighbours but is a much larger building than my flat).

However, from the lack of a specific answer on making the flute quieter, am I right in surmising that no-one has come up with anything like the bridge mutes that string players make use of or Yamaha's "Silent Brass" system for trumpets?

Wulf

fluttiegurl
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Post by fluttiegurl » Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:35 am

Not that I am aware of. The flute is such an odd instrument in the fact that it is multi directional that I personally would think this to be nearly impossible. If such a device were available, I seriously doubt that I would recommend it or use it because of the things that I stated earlier.

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Mark
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Post by Mark » Sat Apr 05, 2008 12:08 pm

stay out of the car with it; at least in the upper range. :)

Yes, I went through a period where the only practice time I
had was at red lights and traffic jams.. (gotta love Dallas traffic :) )

A long time ago, I saw a recommendation on muting the flute, but I have
not tried it myself.
It was an Irish flute player, and when he needed to run through some pieces
when his little ones were napping, etc, he would put something on the
far side of the embouchure to break up the air-stream.
Keep in mind that he was already an accomplished player, and I would not
recommend it for someone still learning tone development, for pretty
much the same reasons as Fluttigirl posted.

One more consideration, on these flutes here, doing so may lead to a
discoloration of the lip plate. (Something that was not an issue for his instrument.)


Mark
So many instruments.... so little time.... :)

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woof
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noisy flutes

Post by woof » Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:01 am

Another aspect of this problem that I face commonly is disturbing people in my house- not my neighbors. I often can only practice late at night when others are asleep or even when they are up they want to listen to their own music etc. Fortunately we have a mud room with a door which allows me to isolate myself somewhat. But I can appreciate that my playing -even if it were great (it is not)- would wear on the nerves of others in my own house intent on enjoying their day another way. I have also tried playing in the room with the TV on thinking that the noise from the TV would act like white noise and blot out some of the sound from the flute. We need to figure out an inexpensive way to build a "sound reduced" room.

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pied_piper
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Re: noisy flutes

Post by pied_piper » Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:12 am

woof wrote:We need to figure out an inexpensive way to build a "sound reduced" room.
There are many techniques that can be used to attenuate sound. Here are a few possibilities. Some are not very attractive, but many times inexpensive and attractive are inversely proportional in cost. :cry: Also, multiple techniques can be used together for greater efficiency.

Put insulation inside the walls (when building or remodeling a room)
Heavy drapes or curtains on walls
Thick carpet and padding on floors
Cover wall with egg carton bottoms
Cover wall with special foam (shaped sort of like egg carton bottoms)

Porous materials (i.e drapes, carpets, and plush furniture will absorb sound. Material with lots of non-flat surfaces (i.e. shaped like egg cartons) will tend to reflect sound in many directions which has the effect of dissipating the sound waves.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

JacobThompson
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Post by JacobThompson » Sun Apr 06, 2008 5:00 pm

I've heard that placing cotton in the head joint and/or placing a bit of modeling clay at the opposite end of the mouth hole are options. I'm going to try the cotton.

Also, go find the loudest fans you can and get a couple at different sizes. Set to high speed, they should cover the flute sounds. In fact, I was just playing into a fan and it seems to reflect the sound quite well right back at you.

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Bo
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Re:

Post by Bo » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:17 pm

JacobThompson wrote:I've heard that placing cotton in the head joint and/or placing a bit of modeling clay at the opposite end of the mouth hole are options. I'm going to try the cotton.

Also, go find the loudest fans you can and get a couple at different sizes. Set to high speed, they should cover the flute sounds. In fact, I was just playing into a fan and it seems to reflect the sound quite well right back at you.
Has anybody else tried that and do you think it is a good method?
I have found Jacob's solution here (maybe that's where he found it too back then): https://www.experts123.com/q/can-you-ma ... music.html

My neighbours are nice and have never complained, but I really feel bad about playing so much.
I just bought a new (acoustic) piano last week and must really find a way not to be too much of a pain!

I am actually surprised nobody has complained yet about my "orchestra"... :o

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