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A woodshed of one’s own
May 22, 2012 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Plenty of time to practice music, but no place to do so. Creative solutions wanted!

I have some free weekdays this summer that I’d like to devote to practicing music. Normally when I have time like this my ideal is to play for 2 – 3 hours several days a week. Alas, I can’t practice during the day at my apartment. What I’ve tried:

- Playing outside in the park. A decent option on nice days, but it’s a toss-up between playing somewhere out in the open (and getting approached by people pretty frequently) and playing somewhere more secluded (and feeling a tiny bit unsafe).
- Renting practice space. A bit expensive and elaborate for my needs. I play fiddle; I just need a quiet-ish spot where I’m not bothering anyone. Honestly, a closet would do.

I’m on the verge of approaching a couple of the local bars that open late in the afternoon to see if they could use someone around during the day to receive deliveries or something. Wishful thinking? There must be some creative solutions I’m missing. This is in (south) Brooklyn, NY. Any general or locally-specific ideas welcome.
posted by messica to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why not the subway? You don't have to busk, you're just there practicing. Most people on the subway aren't interested in interaction, like they might be at a park. Just set up and start playing. Don't have a case open to collect money or anything.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:09 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Awesome subway idea — it would be so cool, no hat plus a sign "JUST PRACTICING, THANKS"
posted by Tom-B at 11:26 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could you just use a mute in your apartment?
posted by Pecinpah at 11:28 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stairwells? Little-used stairwells, ideally? I don't know your area, but often high rises, malls, your larger libraries, university buildings, etc., have fire stairs that are generally unoccupied.
posted by mskyle at 11:30 AM on May 22, 2012


A local school or college? They might have spaces that are either open to the public, or if you have a friend affiliated with the institution, they might be willing to let you use one of their spaces or practice rooms.
posted by chickenmagazine at 11:37 AM on May 22, 2012


Get an electric violin and use headphones.
posted by John Cohen at 11:38 AM on May 22, 2012


Thanks for the ideas so far! Initially skeptical about the subway idea, but Tom-B's addition of a sign is kind of awesome. Still, though, my preference would be for someplace more private.

I occasionally practice with a mute, but it affects the tone quite a bit so it's not a good all-the-time solution.
posted by messica at 11:39 AM on May 22, 2012


A vote against stairwells — they usually have extraordinary echo.
posted by Nomyte at 11:51 AM on May 22, 2012


What about offering to play at nursing homes or VAs?
posted by bryghtrose at 11:55 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Churches or synagogues often have unused weekday/daytime spaces where you can practice. (In fact, if you're an organist, that's pretty much where you go to practice!) You could offer to assist with music for high holy days. Or to take packages/watch the phones when the secretary goes to the bathroom.

It's pretty common to find pianists and organists making use of church sanctuaries to practice around here. Some of them play for the church, or take lessons with a church musician, but plenty of them just asked if they could use the space for two hours every Tuesday since, hey, there's a piano sitting in an empty room where it won't bother anyone.

A lot of music majors I went to college with who lived in off-campus apartments (so the campus practice rooms weren't super-convenience) borrowed a nearby church.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:55 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Renting practice space. A bit expensive and elaborate for my needs. I play fiddle; I just need a quiet-ish spot where I’m not bothering anyone. Honestly, a closet would do.

Get a self storage rental unit. They cost something like $30 a month. It is a closet.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:55 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The roof of your building?
posted by dirtdirt at 11:59 AM on May 22, 2012


Practice rooms in a local college dorm.
posted by lotusmish at 1:19 PM on May 22, 2012


Stairwells? Little-used stairwells, ideally? I don't know your area, but often high rises, malls, your larger libraries, university buildings, etc., have fire stairs that are generally unoccupied

Be careful with this one. I got locked into a stairwell in the Embarcadero 4 and had to walk down over 20 storeys. I was crippled for days afterwards.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:59 PM on May 22, 2012


Another vote for trying a local university. At my school there is a piano in an out of the way area of the union for anyone to play, and it's not uncommon at all to see random musicians sitting around playing various instruments. On a decent sized university campus you probably wouldn't have much trouble finding a semi-secluded spot, indoors or out, where no one would really bother you. (Just make sure you're not playing outside a class in session, obviously.)
posted by catatethebird at 2:03 PM on May 22, 2012


Some public libraries in large cities (Chicago, for example) have soundproofed rehearsal rooms where apartment dwellers can practice their music. Maybe call your local library system and see if they know of anything similar in your area?
posted by jabes at 2:42 PM on May 22, 2012


I had this problem once, in the form of a room-mate who wouldn't allow me to practise when she was in the apartment. I solved it by going to the local music school (for kids) and getting to know the violin teacher, who let me use his teaching room when he wasn't there. It worked really well.
posted by altolinguistic at 2:56 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Older hotels tend to have unused conference rooms which were once used for Rotary/Union/Small Group meetings and the like. They are next to impossible to rent out these days, since they're not really big enough for a conference or a wedding. Ask around. You may get to practice with stacks of chairs, but it will likely be carpeted and have real wood, like a church.

I love the idea of practicing at a nursing home or convalescent care center. Something about the snippets prompting good memories for the elders...even if you're working on the same six measures over and over. It has to be better than daytime television droning on.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:08 PM on May 22, 2012


Thank you for these excellent suggestions. I'm going to investigate the church/synagogue idea first, as there are quite a few in my neighborhood and I like the idea of being in some kind of community space. Self storage - wow. I never would have thought of that, but it is like the ultimate urban woodshed! I have no experience with self storage places so I don't know if it's practical, but I will investigate. Thank you all for helping to make my summer more musical.
posted by messica at 7:56 PM on May 22, 2012


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