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  • Singing in apartment 01/09/2018  9:44pm

    After many years living in the same apartment, an anonymous neighbor complained to the management office about my singing practice—referring specifically to hearing me sing at 1:00 on a Saturday afternoon, which is not a violation of my lease. I need to cool off for a day or too before discussing this with my landlord, but I’m wondering:
    1. Has anyone been in a similar situation and, if so, how did you handle? I don’t think I should have to skip vocalizing or rent studios all the time when no one else has complained for YEARS.
    2. I doubt I could literally soundproof my apartment, but I’ve wondered if there are effective tools to dampen the sound, perhaps under doors or over air vents.


    I mean day or TWO

    ThatOneGuy 01/09/2018  9:56pm

    1- It sounds like the neighbor's problem; not yours. Complaining about an unamplified voice on a Saturday afternoon is ridiculous. Perhaps you can counter by having management ask the neighbor to pay for a practice room if it bothers them so much. It sounds obnoxious, but I think it would make your point. You practicing singing is part of your livelihood, and is no different than anyone in any other field doing necessary work-related activities at home.
    2- I sing to my laundry. The fabric dampens the sound a little.

    bwaylvsong 01/09/2018  10:30pm

    You can actually buy padding that may help dampen the sound, like what you’d do for a recording studio, but short of that and inviting your cranky neighbor for tea, there’s not much else you can do..

    Rain On my Parade 01/09/2018  10:38pm

    A couple of years ago I saw singers endlesly raving about the Beltbox. Costs about $50 and is seemingly a Godsend for decibel reduction.

    Could rehearse at 1am on a Saturday. But that’s the weekend and full belto-bellowing at that hour is what non-singers are doing anyhow. At least they are in my hood.

    kebnyc 01/09/2018  10:38pm

    ^BeltBox can be dangerous if your technique isn't 100%. It's very easy to oversing.

    bwaylvsong 01/09/2018  10:44pm

    That's ridiculous ... unless your neighbor has a new infant or a new night job or any of a million reasons someone might want quiet when the rest of the world is buzzing. Point is, your neighbor should have knocked on your door and had a conversation before complaining to management. We literally have the most unconventional jobs on the universe so we do need to be a little understanding. But if you know which neighbor it is, it wouldn't suck for you to approach and say "this is when I generally vocalize, here's a heads up" and if that isn't ideal, work out a compromise like grown ups.

    tuneman 01/10/2018  12:42am

    I agree with everyone else posting, 1pm is a decent hour to be making “noise!” It’s part of living in an apartment building. And by making the complaint anonymously, they’re making it harder for you to understand their perspective by humanizing it. Again, if they had a baby I would totally get it and try to respect that, but you can’t know since it’s anonymous.

    I think it’s important to note in your response that you’re trying to be sensitive to everyone’s needs in the surrounding apartments by only working during traditional work hours, but this is a required part of your job. You’re not doing it to be a bothersome neighbor, you’re simply working. (Taking time to cool off was smart because I would have been PISSED.) Maybe your landlord/manager knows more about why this time it caused a complaint.

    MoreShakerThanMover 01/10/2018  3:43am

    This is insane, and it makes me all the more sad that I'm having to leave my current place this spring, because everyone on my floor actually loves it when me and the roomie sing and they've told us so...
    Anyways, there are obviously some ways to deaden your place if you feel so inclined, however I still wouldn't as you're well within your rights! As we all know, 1 PM on a Saturday (or any day) is ridiculous to be asking for night time quiet. I understand some people are more annoyed by singing practice than others in general, hence why I feel so damn lucky, but before buying supplies, I'd talk to your landlord/super/whoever you need to talk to about this. It's seems talking to your neighbor isn't going to do any good. I know some people have worked certain conditions of practice into their lease, which I'd suggest if it came down to it. I'm planning on it at my next place if it's lease I'm gonna be using.

    Showbizdreamer 01/10/2018  9:05am

    And you 1000% made the right choice to wait a couple days to chill. Being clearheaded always helps when charging into this kind of battle. But hen you are chilled, yes talk to management and get more details and just give it to them straight.

    Showbizdreamer 01/10/2018  9:10am

    That is rediculous. I’m so sorry. A cheap version of a belt box is singing into the cup of a push up bra though 😂

    Suiteofjacks 01/10/2018  4:36pm

    No matter what time of day it is, nobody should be forced to listen to loud noise coming from a neighbor. If they don’t like it, they have a right to complain.

    EpaMonitor 01/10/2018  6:00pm

    ^^^ even an actor??

    Showbizdreamer 01/10/2018  6:53pm

    Thank you all so much! I found out my (standard NYC) lease allows music practice as long at it’s not between 10 PM and 8 AM. If someone is disturbed, they can make it between 6 PM and 8 AM and add a two hour a day limit. So my first action is to point out to management that I haven’t even broken the more restrictive rules.

    ThatOneGuy 01/10/2018  7:17pm

    👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 One of my first thoughts was the typical standard quiet hours. I’ve havent lived anywhere, NY or otherwise, where it wasn’t 10 or 11 PM to 8 AM. Glad it seems to be ironing out :):)

    Showbizdreamer 01/10/2018  7:37pm

    Hey ThatOneGuy, do you have a reference to cite for the standard quiet hours on a standard NYC lease? I'm always a bit on edge about this and haven't found anything solid to allay the worry.

    iKruse 01/11/2018  1:50pm
    Past Tense 01/11/2018  4:16pm

    I couldn't find anything about quiet hours in the link above, but I found this in another pdf from

    "Certain machines, such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers, may
    only be used between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm (or until sunset,
    whichever occurs later) on weekdays; and between 9:00 am and
    6:00 pm on holidays and weekends. "

    So maybe those could be used as a guideline?

    crashtheparty 01/11/2018  4:33pm

    iKruse, within an item 2 my lease says, “No Tenant shall play or suffer to be played any musical instrument in the premises between the hours of 10:00 pm and the following 8:00 am. If the same shall disturb or annoy other occupants in the building, in no event shall tenant practice or suffer to be practiced vocal or instrumental music for more than two hours in any day or between the hours or 6:00 pm and 8:00 am.” I live in a rent stabilized Manhattan building. You may have to check your own full lease to see if it’s there. I am using that quote to maintain it was within my rights to sing for about an hour on a Saturday afternoon. Haven’t heard back yet . .

    ThatOneGuy 01/11/2018  9:45pm

    Shall not *suffer to be played* 😂😂😂 amazing. Thank you!

    iKruse 01/11/2018  10:26pm

    Bad news. Everything has been by letter between my management office and me. I replied to the initial complaint citing the quote above (from Item 2 in House Rules and Regulations). I received a simple reply today citing the sentence that preceded it:, “No Tenant shall make or permit any disturbing noises in the building by himself, his family, friends, guests or servants, nor do or permit anything by such persons that will interfere with the rights, comforts or convenience of other Tenants.” I suppose it’s a matter of interpretation whether an acoustic musical practice is “disturbing noise.” I am furious that this is happening over a decade into my tenancy, apparently due to a neighbor who must have moved in the first of the year and heard me singing on a Saturday afternoon. I’m uncertain how to proceed. Right now, I’m just angry and tired.

    ThatOneGuy 01/12/2018  9:54pm

    fuck that's incredibly frustrating. I'd start talking to a lawyer. there are lots who do pro bono work. or contact aea and see if they have any resources for that kind of thing.

    eroseb 01/12/2018  9:56pm

    ???? Those two sentences seem to be completely says these are the allowed hours and the other can’t make any disturbing noise at all?? Please alleviate my confusion...

    Showbizdreamer 01/12/2018  10:02pm

    Those sentences appear back to back. I thought disturbing noise would mean things like blasting stereos and screaming but then specific guidelines were set for music practices, which any given person may or may not find disturbing.

    ThatOneGuy 01/12/2018  11:12pm

    Yeah, talk to a lawyer. Based on the wording you mentioned above, you are 100% in your rights to practice 2 hours per day within that reasonable time frame. If you get a lawyer to send a scary letter and make it *sound* like you have grounds to sue them for this treatment, I bet they'll back off.

    sinsajo 01/13/2018  9:27am

    Thanks, sinsajo. That’s my next step. It’s all so silty. If they just put me in touch with this anonymous complainer and read their own lease, we could probably solve this is 5 minutes . . .

    ThatOneGuy 01/13/2018  7:06pm

    I know you're angry and it may be late in the game to ask, but is there any way you could ask them what times would work for them for you to practice? That may be a good way of making the point that you are practicing at a very reasonable hour.

    canttakeitwithyou 01/13/2018  11:03pm

    I actually did that in my reply letter to management—and the other tenant(s) involved are anonymous. All they did was reply with the first sentence of that noise section of the lease.

    ThatOneGuy 01/14/2018  12:25pm

    Damn. That freaking sucks. Especially since they are new (or presumed to be new since it's just now a problem). I just moved into a place and I am prepping to sing on the weekends and if people complain I've been compiling all the noise they make - dragging shit around on the floor above me between 6am-9am, yelling at each other, the guy next to me has a party every Saturday night.

    Something I was thinking of doing was putting up a sign on my door every time I practice that says something like "I am a singer and must practice. I plan on practicing 2-4pm every Saturday. If this time is particularly bad for you, please email me at _____ and let me know if another time would be better and we can try to work something out. Please feel free to take some earplugs!" and tape up a box with earplugs in it. It sounds corny as shit but I'm hoping it will show people I'm willing to work with them and they will not complain.

    crashtheparty 01/15/2018  11:49am

    Please keep us posted with how this goes! Very frustrated about the response so far.

    MoreShakerThanMover 01/16/2018  10:38pm

    I appreciate all the interest and support. I’ve received advice ranging from, “Just don’t sing at home,” to, “Keep practicing and ignore the complaint,” to, “Get a lawyer.” I’m kind of stalled at the moment—and a regular customer at Michiko.

    ThatOneGuy 01/17/2018  8:59pm