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Ireceived a very practical question in my email ... Julia in Albuquerque asks,
I live in an apartment complex and like to Practice at night. What should I do about the noise?
Singers sometimes need to do Vocal warmups and practice songs in hotel rooms, houses shared by others or on postage stamp lots, artist dressing rooms, public bathrooms, between-set-alleys, band buses, a back corner of the venue itself. How can you do this without annoying neighbors or giving away the sound of your not-yet-warmed-up-voice? Here are some suggestions:
Silence! Mime or lip-sync your songs. Use your facial and body language, flex your pelvic floor power, do everything but make a sound. Use silent vocal exercises like lip or tongue trills - try the "Mental Body/Voice Connection Routine" which is in my 6-disc Power, Path & Performance vocal training course. Tell you what; I'll just give it to you as a signup bonus right now! (If you don't see this signup box below, go to the blogpost site online)
Cheapest audible solution:
Consider getting a pair of HearFones. These gadgets are like having a PA system that requires no electricity or batteries. Wearing them will also have the added benefit of keeping you from using too much air pressure. You won't push your voice loudly because it will sound like yelling at yourself! So you'll most probably be prompted to use better techniques for opening your throat and balancing breath support and control. A win-win for you AND your neighbors!
Good will/kindness solution:
Try garnering a little good will by contacting and alerting neighbors about when you intend to practice, being willing to work around times they especially need quiet (working night shift and need to sleep, baby's napping, etc). If you're singing with your instrument or your band is joining you for rehearsal, try using quiet practice gear and maybe some headphones. Your neighbors (and family) could become supportive friend-fans and organic show promotors!
- For an apartment, hotel room or space you don't own, you can try warming up and singing in the shower! You can also try vocalizing into a pillow or window curtains. However, don't practice in 'guarded stance'. A hunched over, too-careful posture and numb delivery could lead you into bad vocal technique, causing you to tighten up instead of loosen up!
- You can always practice in your car... but if you practice correctly you must be mindful of how you are singing. SO.... don't tailgate, stay away from other cars, or better yet... park and sing! Oh and don't let your posture slump.
- For your home, you might consider dedicating a space for playing/listening to/practicing music. In my home, my music room is located over my garage, and there is carpet on the floor. It really is a great situation for me and my students. So is, of course, the fact that I'm mostly working online with lessons, background vocals and production right now.
High end solutions
If you want to go the whole distance (and have the funds to do so);
- Get some soundproofing or sound absorption materials for the room. While there are cheap ways to do this, don't line walls with flammable material.
- Construct a vocal booth
- Buy a vocal booth already made.
- Professionally design/build a soundproof room from scratch... or better yet, have an acoustical engineer or expert in architectural acoustics design it and build it for you.
OK you... now go practice! Got neighbors? Where there's a will there's a quiet way:)