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Neighbour Complaints (Read 602 times)

Offline dankdyl

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Neighbour Complaints
« on: March 19, 2020, 01:29:59 PM »
So I recently moved back into the house my family has owned for 20 years in London, I've been living in South Africa for most of my life (I'm 19). I've been playing classical piano for 11 years. We have a beautiful Steinway upright. So the first day I get back to London I do my daily practice routine at around 15:00.

After an hour of practicing I get a knock on my door, it's my neighbour complaining about the noise I'm making. This person doesn't own the flat he lives in down stairs as he is a tenant renting it.

So he complains about the noise saying that he won't be able to put up with it on a frequent basis. So I kindly ask for 3 hours a day of practice, and I'm hoping to be able to enter a conservatory soon so I ask him at what time of the day I should practice. He says 14:00-17:00 and tells me that my practicing can not happen on a daily basis, and he doesn't say what days are suitable for me to practice.

Any classical pianist knows that 3 hours a day is quite conservative and the idea of not being able to practice everyday is just absurd. He hinted towards taking legal action if this carries on.

What do you suggest the best thing for me to do is?

Offline quantum

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #1 on: March 19, 2020, 02:28:14 PM »
You will also likely have legal options, so do some research and be prepared in case this person decides to go in that direction.  It would be preferable not to involve legal action.  Actually it seems rather aggressive that someone would make such a move upon initial occurrence.

If you can invest in a digital piano it could help extend your practice sessions.  Play on your acoustic only at select times.  Keep on practising, and do what you need to do in order to keep moving forward with your music.
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline andrew_s

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #2 on: March 19, 2020, 03:05:27 PM »
You are indeed not the first piano student having this problem!
I agree with quantum that you should avoid legal action. You can either lose and be seriously restricted, or you can win and have the right to practice more than your neighbour find reasonable, which means that you will know that your practicing is making people upset. Psycologically it would be a terrible condition for you doing dedicated artistic work.

My suggestion is to take many small steps towards a reasonable compromise which hopefully your neighbour will appreciate and accept.
- As quantum suggest, get a digital piano and do certain type of practice on that during the most critical hours.
- Find another piano to use some hours per week, such as a school, church or retirement home. (My own experience is that the inconvence to go away from home and practice on a place where unknown people can hear you can often make the practicing more effective.)
- Damping the sound of your upright piano. It is a matter of decreasing the decibel count leaving your piano. If you get down below a certain level, it will not be audiable at all for your neighbour, but every little decrease in sound volume is of course positive. You can experiment with putting soft material, such as pillows, caprets, towels etc not only on the back of the piano but inside the two front panels above and below the keyboard.
- Damping the vibrations going through your piano's four feet or wheels into the floor. This can be done by placing pieces of hard rubber anti-vibration mats under the wheels.

Hope this helps and let us know if any of this works for you!

Offline dankdyl

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #3 on: March 19, 2020, 05:31:39 PM »
thanks for the support and suggestions

Online j_tour

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #4 on: March 24, 2020, 06:43:08 PM »
Depends on your location.  NYC, and possibly all of NY State, for example, under its tenant rights, guarantees that musicians are able to practice their instrument pretty much whenever, IIRC.

Or, if you have an audio mixer with a fair amount of gain and a good power amp+speakers, you can always get creative with playing loops of sound effects.  A shotgun being racked, a cement truck mixing, just traffic noise.

I'm not saying your neighbor doesn't have a point, but if this is your profession, and your witihin reasonable standards outlined in your lease or Home Owners Association bylaws....you might have made an enemy who you should keep your distance from, but there may be nothing they can do about your using your space within some guidelines. 

FWIW, I've never had a complaint anywhere I've lived:  for some reason classical or something inoffensive to most people seems to have kept people off my back.

Punk rock band rehearsals?  Not so much.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline dorihunt

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #5 on: March 27, 2020, 04:42:39 AM »
Maybe you could offer to buy him noise canceling headphones.
Sorry you are dealing with this. 
My neighbor is so kind.  He sits on his back porch and listens contently to all my practicing.  I wonder why your neighbor is so angry about your playing

Offline zoomie88

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #6 on: April 28, 2020, 02:37:37 PM »
Hello everyone.  I've been lurking here for some time, and signed up just to respond to this thread.  Dankdyl, you undoubtedly have the right to practice, but please bear in mind that your rights end where another's rights begin.  I agree with you that 3 hours per day is a conservative amount of practice time, however your neighbor clearly doesn't feel the same way. How would you feel if someone next door to you practiced on their pipe organ for 3 hours a day....maybe at the same time as you were trying to practice, or read, or sleep, etc.
IMO, the fact that your neighbor is a tenant, rather than an owner, doesn't give you additional rights, unless they are somehow spelled out legally.  He is paying rent for the peaceful, quiet enjoyment of his home.  You may be the second coming of Horowitz, but that doesn't mean that everybody on the planet wants to listen to the dulcet tones of your Steinway.
FWIW, I feel that the onus is on you.  You are disturbing your neighbor.  An imperfect, but reasonable solution, as others have suggested, would be to get the very best DP that you can.
I apologize if I've offended anyone, but we musicians often make the mistake of assuming that everyone loves music as much as we do.

Offline quantum

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #7 on: April 28, 2020, 03:18:53 PM »
Hello everyone.  I've been lurking here for some time, and signed up just to respond to this thread.  Dankdyl, you undoubtedly have the right to practice, but please bear in mind that your rights end where another's rights begin.  I agree with you that 3 hours per day is a conservative amount of practice time, however your neighbor clearly doesn't feel the same way. How would you feel if someone next door to you practiced on their pipe organ for 3 hours a day....maybe at the same time as you were trying to practice, or read, or sleep, etc.
IMO, the fact that your neighbor is a tenant, rather than an owner, doesn't give you additional rights, unless they are somehow spelled out legally.  He is paying rent for the peaceful, quiet enjoyment of his home.  You may be the second coming of Horowitz, but that doesn't mean that everybody on the planet wants to listen to the dulcet tones of your Steinway.
FWIW, I feel that the onus is on you.  You are disturbing your neighbor.  An imperfect, but reasonable solution, as others have suggested, would be to get the very best DP that you can.
I apologize if I've offended anyone, but we musicians often make the mistake of assuming that everyone loves music as much as we do.

Sorry, but have to disagree with this. 

There is a difference between politely asking for quiet time, and being overly controlling of your neighbour. 

How would you like it if a neighbour pounded on your door saying they don't like the smell of your cooking.  They told you that they could only tolerate you cooking that dish once a week, and the rest of the time you would have to eat something else.  Is that reasonable?

The OP has aspirations of being a professional musician.  In my books, practice would then be an essential activity that is integral to their livelihood .  Unreasonably depriving a musician of practice time would be depriving that person of said livelihood. 

Would it be reasonable to demand a neighbour not prepare breakfast at 3AM because it distracts you; considering that person is a healthcare worker and needs to get up at that time for their shift?  Would it be reasonable to tell the people they care for, that this worker was prevented from having breakfast because a neighbours sleep was more important?

***

Some neighbour decides to have a house party and plays some ghastly loud music.  I don't like their choice in music, but do I go over and complain about their music choice and tell they they should be listing to classical music?  No, I adapt, and continue on with my day. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline quantum

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #8 on: April 28, 2020, 03:21:00 PM »
How would you feel if someone next door to you practiced on their pipe organ for 3 hours a day....

 ;D Awesome!  Perfect opportunity to organize neighbourhood pipe organ duet concerts. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline keypeg

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #9 on: April 29, 2020, 11:42:08 AM »
Would it be reasonable to demand a neighbour not prepare breakfast at 3AM because it distracts you; considering that person is a healthcare worker and needs to get up at that time for their shift?  ....
Something close to that happened to me with a former neighbour.  That year my son was attending night school for a high school course and was home a bit after 10 p.m.  He got himself supper, I washed the last dishes, wiped the table (cue: running water, footsteps).  The phone rang.  Downstairs neighbour is yelling about taking us to court and whatnot before I hung up.  The lady was hypersensitive to sound, and this place is not well built.  I hear my upstairs and next door neighbours as well.  This same neighbour also tried to tell me where my broom on my balcony should go.  The thing is that this is also often about control and entitlement.

On that note, to the OP - I would find out what the bylaws and your rights are, since the tenant is making these threats, just to know what they are.  Arranging hours seems a very reasonable thing to have done.  However, this neighbour stating you are "not allowed" to practise every day is unreasonable and over the top. Stipulating (they don't have a right to stipulate anything) that it can only be some days, but not which days, that is a power play.  They keep you off balance, and end up having all the control, which you should not entertain.  If it's your parents' home, and if by any chance you are a younger person, they might also feel entitled as in "age before youth".  One gets a similar thing being female: pushover and unassertive, aren't we? (type of thing).

It's a tricky one.  I have a digital piano.  But I also have a violin, which I stopped playing a bit over 10 years ago, do not play well since I was a student then, and am gradually resuming.  Maybe not while everyone is under "stay at home" orders.

Offline quantum

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #10 on: April 29, 2020, 03:22:14 PM »
Agree with keypeg.

Try to work out a reasonable practice schedule.  But do not, for any reason, let your neighbour control you and walk all over you.  Show that you are willing to stand your ground in order to come to a reasonable solution. 

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline adodd81802

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #11 on: April 29, 2020, 03:54:13 PM »
Honestly I'd just look into the laws of the request the neighbour is making and even consider contacting the police yourself if you feel threatened in any way. It can often be better to be the first person to contact the police regardless of the situation.

I think initially it's looked into by the council rather than the Police, and according to the UK laws here is the information on what's considered a 'noise nuisance'

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/noise-nuisances-how-councils-deal-with-complaints

"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Online j_tour

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Re: Neighbour Complaints
«Reply #12 on: May 07, 2020, 06:29:14 AM »
I'm very sorry to say, given this new information.

Yeah, this is what would be considered a civil tort in US law.

I think the determining factor is if the judge or magistrate happened to agree with the complainant.

So??

What exactly did you do on the piano that offended your neighbor?

Was it Sorabji?

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ETA All right I change my mind.  One of my neighbors is some kind of pretend singer.  She tries to sing this stupid trash like Cranberries or whatever.  And if it's her boyfriend or herself trying to "accompany" on a digital piano, it's the worst kind of rudimentary trash I've ever heard.

It is not just awful, it is god awful.  I rather hear a schoolroom full of angelic children being killed than listen to that garbage.

Yeah, I think probably should just find an amicable solution.

Her voice sounds worse than a pig grunting, and I would gladly beat her savagely with my fists if I thought I could get away with it. 
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.