Recorder for practice in apartment?

Home Forum Recorder Makes, Models and Maintenance Recorder for practice in apartment?

This topic contains 12 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Katia J September 29, 2020 at 12:35 pm.

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  • #856

    Hane
    Participant

    Does anyone have a suggestion for a recorder that one can practice in an apartment without neighbors complaining? I’m looking for something with good intonation but that the sound doesn’t carry far enough to piss off my neighbors. I am a beginner but can afford to pay for what I need to not cause problems.

    #857

    Jason Cone
    Participant

    I can’t offer any suggestions for a specific “quiet” recorder. However, there are some methods for making a recorder quieter. They all affect the tone (and probably playability of some notes) to one degree or another, so it’s a trade off. If you run a web search for “recorder mute” you should be able to find some articles and videos about it. There are a few commercially available mutes, but you can also make your own from a piece of paper or cardboard that you fit into the hole by the labium. It blocks part of the air flow and reduces the volume.

    #858

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    I agree with what Jason said. The only trouble is that your question almost sounds as though you mean a permanent condition – i.e. you always have to play softly to avoid annoying your neighbors. This doesn’t lend itself to really any muting solution. I mean, any mute you use is going to drastically alter the sound and it’s not a way you’d want to always practice, especially as a beginner, IMHO. Generally these muting techniques are temporary solutions for use when you are say on vacation and staying in a hotel or something like that.

    The only other suggestion I have is do NOT play the soprano! Learn on the alto. I’d recommend this anyway for any adult, because the alto is the “main” recorder instrument with the largest repetoir. But also, the soprano is so shrill that it will drive even anyone else in the room crazy, let alone neighbors. I can barely stand to play it myself.

    The least annoying recorder would be the tenor (or bass). You could try learning on a tenor (same fingering as soprano) and probably not worry at all about neighbors it sounds so gentle.

    #859

    Jason Cone
    Participant

    That’s a good point. I have a soprano, an alto, and a tenor. The soprano is definitely the most piercing/carrying of the three.

    While I don’t have the personal experience to back it up (my current recorders are all plastic Yamahas), I also have formed the impression that wooden recorders tend to be less shrill/biting than plastic recorders.

    #861

    Aulos303
    Participant

    .

    While I don’t have the personal experience to back it up (my current recorders are all plastic Yamahas), I also have formed the impression that wooden recorders tend to be less shrill/biting than plastic recorders.

    I found that the wooden alto I received is so much quieter than its plastic counterpart

    You don't stop playing when you get old. You get old when you stop playing.

    #862

    Richard Hureau
    Participant

    Well, it’s all relative. A soprano recorder is a soprano recorder – wooden, plastic, or otherwise, it is shrill. I actually don’t think that a wooden recorder is any more mellow than a plastic one, if they are both of the same era, design-wise (baroque, earlier, etc). I don’t think we want to encourage this beginner to rush out and buy a wooden recorder in the mistaken impression that it will be less bothersome to neighbors. A beginner should stick with plastic, IMHO.

    #864

    Hane
    Participant

    Thanks everyone. I’m going to try an alto and see how it goes. If there isn’t a big difference in shrillness between plastic and wood instruments I will start with a good quality plastic instrument.

    #1074

    Daniel Clark
    Participant

    If you need to be really, really quiet, there are some electronic instruments available – the probably best one is insane-expensive ($1850), eCorder or something like that, but the WARBL at http://www.warbl.xyz is just $250 – the tradeoff being it’s not specifically emulating a recorder, and thus doesn’t have the two double holes on the bottom (you use alternative fingerings to get those notes instead).

    I also recently ran across this little snap-on piece of yellow plastic thing that interferes with the air coming out the top and acts as a mute, if you google “recorder mute” you should find it. No idea how well it works oh.

    #1094

    Katia J
    Participant

    FWIW, I’ve never been that satisfied with any sort of “mute” for a wind instrument. Most of my experience is with pennywhistle, but I find I’m less happy with the options for recorder.

    Methods I know of:
    –fold a piece of paper or card and hang it over the edge of the labium
    –put a piece of tape across the window (not completely covering it; you’ll need to experiment with position)
    –put a paperclip or similar in the windway (never tried this on recorder, didn’t like it on whistle)

    The problem with these is that yes, the instrument will get quieter… but the higher notes won’t sound at all (in which case you might as well just finger the instrument without blowing), and forget working on your tone or higher notes. Easier just to take the instrument outside or some other place where I can play as normal without bothering anyone.

    (Yes, I live in an apartment with very thin walls, so I know all about not wanting my neighbors to hear my playing. As I type, I am listening to my upstairs neighbor’s phone conversation; I can nearly make out the words. If he was in the basement or in the hallway, I’d hear him clear as day.)

    #1120

    Christopher
    Participant

    Simple fact—the smaller the recorder, the more piercing it is. By that logic, you want a F bass (or more accurately ‘basset’) as they are quite soft in sound projection compared to even a tenor. Yes, a bass is a bit pricey, but the highest note (which you’ll likely rarely play) is G—the second G on the alto. Basses don’t carry very much, although IF your apartment is wood construction, you may want to think hard. The places like that I’ve lived in when I was single were pretty thin walls/floors, yet I DID get away with it. Try also to practise/play when your neighbours are out if you can. If you are in a concrete constructed high-rise, you’re good to go! Nothing to worry about. I play a VERY FULL sounding Bressan alto in our place and nobody can hear it.

    FYI: I’m an apartment dweller who has lived in them all for over 40 years—and still.

    -Christopher

    Mainly French & English baroque repertoire on an A403 Bressan, and an A415 DeBey. Active enthusiast since 1971. Early Music program at York University, French baroque instruction at Royal Conservatory in Toronto.

    #1121

    Katia J
    Participant

    These days, it’s a bit hard to practice when people are out as they never are! At any rate, even in “normal” times, unless one lives in a building with only a few apartments– not more than 3 or 4 perhaps– it’s unlikely everyone would be out at the same time, except maybe during the day when everyone is at work (“everyone” probably including the person who wants to practice…).

    #1122

    Christopher
    Participant

    Agreed. Smaller buildings are easier to accomodate. I lived in the lower apartment (tri-plex), had no tennants left or right, so I just had to deal with my upstairs neighbours who did go out in the evenings. I also used the Conservatory practise rooms in the evenings as well (I was taking instruction then). But concrete highrises can also work. One apartment I had, was at the top of a 13th floor building. No one left or right heard me practising an alto in the evenings. Surprising, the next highrise was the same, except I had neighbours top, bottom, left, and right, being on the 7th floor in a 17 floor building.

    With a bit of resourcefulness ‘most’ of this can be accommodated.

    Mainly French & English baroque repertoire on an A403 Bressan, and an A415 DeBey. Active enthusiast since 1971. Early Music program at York University, French baroque instruction at Royal Conservatory in Toronto.

    #1133

    Katia J
    Participant

    Concrete construction is a beautiful thing, though not very common in my area, I don’t think (maybe it is, in very expensive apartments or new construction; I don’t know). Unfortunately, most people do not live in “loud” buildings by choice or because they wanted to. (Apartments are a very good example of “you get what you pay for” {usually}, and when rent prices skyrocket, some things have to give.)

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