How early is too early for sax practice?
February 3, 2019 10:24 AM   Subscribe

I play the saxophone and practice at home. It's a loud instrument, but so far none of my neighbors have complained and I'm hoping to stay on a friendly footing. So, what in the hive mind's opinion is the earliest time of day that no reasonable person would be likely to complain about sax practice, (a) on weekdays, (b) on weekends and holidays?
posted by zeri to Human Relations (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
9 am on weekdays, 10:30 on weekends and holidays.
posted by Grandysaur at 10:24 AM on February 3, 2019 [21 favorites]

10am in NYC and much of the NE but earlier in the Midwest / mountain west (9).
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:26 AM on February 3, 2019

IMO if you really want to stay friendly with your neighbors, ask them, not us! And make sure they have your phone number so they can let you know if there's exceptional cases (like they're staying home from work and trying to sleep during the day because they're sick or something).
posted by aubilenon at 10:31 AM on February 3, 2019 [42 favorites]

You mean shared wall/floor/ceiling neighbors? Just ask them, because it doesn’t really matter if they are more or less conservative than the MeFi average. If they are fine they will remain fine even if many of us wouldn’t be. And if they are annoyed they will remain annoyed, even if you earnestly explain that you have it on good authority that most people wouldn’t be.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:31 AM on February 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

I had a neighbor who was learning the tuba and he loved playing at horrible hours (6am, 11pm, that kind of thing). On weekdays, I'd prefer no earlier than 9. On weekends, give me until at least 10:30, man. Quiet, lazy mornings are one of the best parts of life and my tuba playing neighbor stole that from me!

You could also take a look at the noise ordinances in your area to get a ballpark of what is really too early, and then add a bit to that for courtesy.
posted by sockermom at 10:31 AM on February 3, 2019

Not shared wall/floor/ceiling neighbors -- I live in a standalone house, but my neighbors' houses are pretty close.
posted by zeri at 10:41 AM on February 3, 2019

9am on weekdays and 10:30 or even 11am on weekends. I’m up and around on weekends before then but conversing and having music etc is at a minimum for the first while.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:43 AM on February 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

In a stand-alone house with no shared walls, floors or ceilings I wouldn’t worry about it much at all unless you have open windows (and I probably just...wouldn’t have open windows, it sucks to want to be relaxing outside had have someone practicing all over that). Otherwise I agree 9 AM weekdays, 11ish or so weekends.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:44 AM on February 3, 2019 [12 favorites]

I once brought an electric typewriter to a writers’ conference. Because I knew it was loud, I put it on a towel to dampen the sound, adhered to reasonable hours, and asked everyone in my cabin to tell me if the noise was ever a problem. Nobody said a thing to me, but after the conference, I got an email from the organizers asking me not to bring it back because people complained. Takeaway: don’t expect people to tell you if you ask them.

I agree with 9 am on weekdays and 10 am on weekends. But I also think this isn’t much of an issue in a house.
posted by FencingGal at 10:58 AM on February 3, 2019 [8 favorites]

I think 9:00 is reasonable for weekdays and weekends.

What's the earliest someone mows their lawn in your neighborhood? Don't play any earlier than that.
posted by Twicketface at 11:07 AM on February 3, 2019 [6 favorites]

How often are you practicing? Because if the answer involves any kind of regularity, this is going to get annoying no matter when you do it.
posted by unannihilated at 11:18 AM on February 3, 2019 [8 favorites]

nthing what aubilenon said. Ask the neighbors, and maybe suggest times. Give them your phone number too so in case there are occasions where the agreed time is a problem they can call and won't have to come to your door.

I am someone who enjoys sax and even bagpipes, and would not like to be awoken by either.
posted by luaz at 11:35 AM on February 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

No earlier than 10 AM, weekdays or weekends. 9am is way too early to me. And as a guess culture type, I'd never tell you how enraged it was making me, call you to stop, or anything similar.
posted by Aranquis at 11:36 AM on February 3, 2019 [6 favorites]

Thank you so much for being proactively considerate of your neighbors.

The hardest part about neighborhood noise is the uncertainty - not knowing where it's coming from and how long it will go on.

Here's one way to go about it -- set up a Google voice number.
Give the number to your neighbors, along with some cookies. Tell them to send a text message any time if it's bothering them for any reason. This makes it super easy and non-confrontational to raise an objection.

By managing the uncertainty, hopefully you can continue to practice and still enjoy a good relationship with neighbors.
posted by dum spiro spero at 11:40 AM on February 3, 2019 [5 favorites]

It's polite to ask your neighbors because they make work third shift or have a baby with an unusual sleep pattern. You can't stop living your life because of them, but knowing that your next door neighbor would really appreciate quiet from 1 to 2 each afternoon because that's one of the few times their colicy baby will sleep is useful information for keeping the peace.
posted by Candleman at 11:50 AM on February 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you're going to inform neighbors, you might add how long you expect to practice and if it will be the same time regularly. That way they can schedule around it or they have a framework for negotiations. Are you open to negotiations?
posted by beaning at 11:52 AM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

No earlier than 10:30 on weekends. Jerks may be up mowing lawns before that but that doesn’t make it ok.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:59 AM on February 3, 2019 [7 favorites]

Just want to say that my neighbor (stand alone single family houses close together) is a professional trumpet player and I can hear it when he practices, even if his windows and my windows are closed. So being mindful of the hours is a good idea.
posted by MillyMath at 12:15 PM on February 3, 2019 [6 favorites]

Can you use a mute? I work from home and can hear my neighbor (in a separate house) practicing trumpet in the afternoons, and it's not a huge deal, but distracting. But to answer your question, I agree with everyone suggesting 9am on weekdays and 10:30 or 11 on weekends.
posted by pinochiette at 12:27 PM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

I consider 10 am to 10 pm the noise hours. I can be annoyed that someone is disturbing me with noise during those hours (noise disturbs me a lot) but I have no rights to ask anyone to knock it off during those hours. But before or after, I might seethe and judge you.
posted by greermahoney at 12:42 PM on February 3, 2019 [6 favorites]

I like the times people have suggested, but I would likely check with my neighbors on either side to make sure none of them work nights or have tiny babies or anything like that. And I would try not to practice for more than an hour or so at a time.
posted by sarcasticah at 12:46 PM on February 3, 2019

Where I live, the noise ordnance is 7am-10pm on weekdays, and 8am-10pm weekdays.

Generally speaking I think if you stuck from mid-morning to before 7pm people would be hard pressed to complain. You can buy saxophone mutes, if you're really concerned, but they can be pricey.
posted by smoke at 1:14 PM on February 3, 2019

Do you have a basement? Can you play there?

Had you been in an apartment, I would’ve said that there are NO morning hours where it was acceptable to play something that can be heard outside your home, and evening hours should end at 8p, so as not to wake any babies or people who work on shifts. But houses are different. I would say 10 AM on weekdays and noon on weekends.

But still, have a friend stand outside your house and see how loud it sounds there. The thing that offends me most about neighbors is if I can hear them at all inside my own apartment. If I bought a house and could still hear something going on in someone else’s house, I would be livid. But I wouldn’t know what to say if they came to ask me in advance. It’s awkward to explain to people that you sleep at odd hours, have to concentrate on your work, are on conference calls, etc. Mitigate any way you can: basement, mute, afternoon hours.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:21 PM on February 3, 2019

I would ask them for their general preferences, and also let them have your contact info so they can ask you to stop if it's a special circumstance (like if someone has a migraine or whatever). In my house it'd be totally cool for us to overhear you rocking that Kenny G life at 2am, but if you started tootling at 10 am I'd want to fling you into the sun!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:38 PM on February 3, 2019

Count me in on the 9am weekday to 7pm, and 10am to 7pm on weekends.

I would also suggest giving the neighbours a weekend off every now and then. I have a lovely fellow living next door to me whose hobby is building furniture from recycled timber; the houses are close together and I can hear him bandsawing for a couple of hours from a responsible 11am to 5pm on the weekends, with the occasional hour from 5pm to 6pm after work. He was working on an outdoor setting a while back and it took him about six months, and my god six months of sawing all weekend every weekend with the odd work day as well is excruciating. If you are literally practicing every day it's going to be a gift to give them a day off from it every now at them, especially if you're doing a lot of exercises or refining one song.

As for holidays, I would skip the morning after "party" holidays like St Patricks, New Years, Superbowl, that kind of thing. Be gentle with sore heads, that kind of thing.

Of course, the best solution for playing your instrument on the weekend is also the most fun - find a band to jam with! My partner is a drummer and rather than drum the neighbours to death he goes and jams with a mate in a soundproofed studio every weekend. Music is most fun together, so once you've had a practice all week you've earned the right to just noodle around and have some fun.
posted by Jilder at 2:38 PM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thank you for being considerate!

I'm clearly in the minority here but I don't care after 8 on weekdays because I'm at work. But weekends are the time for sleeping in, unhurried morning sex, the only time of week anyone has a spare moment to make a goddamn pancake, and finally a relaxing breakfast around noon, and if that's interrupted by saxophone practice it could be a sad thing indeed. So on weekends I say no earlier than 1pm, giving people time to get breakfast and get out for the day if they don't care to listen.
posted by fritley at 5:06 PM on February 3, 2019 [6 favorites]

I've practiced sax; at home play faced into a closet, and also muffle with a cloth or shirt stuffed loosely on the top of the bore. If you wanna have fun, practice outdoors at the nearest public park, you will eventually attract adoring fans & constructive critics (who might ask you to perform the sax solo from 'Money' by Pink Floyd. Which is worth learning for a sax student.)
posted by ovvl at 5:34 PM on February 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

In addition to asking your neighbors about the specific hours, as people here have suggested, I would also like to suggest limiting the duration to, perhaps, 90 minutes a day. You might also consider making it a consistent time each day so that it is predictable for your neighbors.
posted by aquamvidam at 6:37 PM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

After 10 for everything. People that have to get up early for work on the weekend, and so can only sleep in during the week, are always left out when having a show of hands.
posted by MountainDaisy at 6:53 PM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

10 weekdays, 1 PM weekends, same reasons as fritley.

Duration depends on what you are doing and how good you are; playing songs mostly correctly could be a couple hours, and playing intervals poorly should be limited unmuffled. A mute doesn't cost much and should make it hard to hear you outside the house.
posted by flimflam at 7:18 PM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Where did all these early risers come from? 9AM weekdays, 1PM on weekends. Or even later.
posted by happyroach at 8:51 PM on February 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

Where did all of these slugabeds come from? I'm shocked at all of these people who are proposing anything after 11am on weekends (I'd say 10 is super kind), whereas they seem appalled at anything before 1pm. Which just makes me favorite the earlier answers of talking to the closest neighbors and giving them some cookies and a phone number. A saxophone really shouldn't be loud in an adjacent space unless windows are open, and even then I wouldn't mind. But apparently cranky humans are a rich tapestry!
posted by ldthomps at 11:05 AM on February 4, 2019

I don't really like being called a slugabed because my natural rhythm runs late.

Anyway, I would talk to the neighbors. It's hard to say if it would be super loud or not really audible as a specific noise and we're defaulting to "it's probably loud" for that reason. If I had to assign a specific value, I would prefer after noon but after 10am would probably be fine. I frequently sleep until 10/11am on weekends because that's just how my body likes to roll.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:50 PM on February 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

> Where did all of these slugabeds come from?

It's 2 am and I'm ready to chat, why are you such a slugabed? On weekdays, I sleep until the latest possible alarm and then get up immediately to try to maximize uninterrupted sleep, because I work an office job with traditional hours despite naturally being a night owl. I also have several seasonal side-jobs, and have had serious bouts of insomnia and many parasomnias for my entire life, so, to catch up the rest of the way, I sleep in on weekends. (Also my partner and I rely on the snuggling time.)

I agree with no earlier than 9 or 10 on weekdays, 10 on weekends, and during a set time to help manage expectations. Within those parameters, I would loooove to hear the strains of a saxophone being rehearsed. (I used to hear the sound of a neighbor's kid practicing piano and it was lovely to hear it sifting through the walls, repetitiveness and all, as it was never during times that irritated me.)
posted by desuetude at 11:15 PM on February 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Where did all of these slugabeds come from?

I’m as offended as anyone. Clearly the correct plural is “slugs abed”
posted by aubilenon at 1:38 AM on February 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

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