We all know that practicing between lessons is where the real magic happens. Solo Practice is an essential component to making changes to your habits and gaining more individual ownership of your creative choices. However, some singers — especially apartment dwellers– worry about their living situation interfering with their ability to focus (and/or driving family, roommates or neighbors nuts!). And, of course, if you’re taking online lessons, being comfortable singing openly and freely is a key part of the game, too!
If you struggle with these challenges, the first tip we have for you is to consider singing in unusual spaces in your apartment. Kitchens and Bathrooms tend to share walls with other kitchens/baths and have plumbing in between, so the sound doesn’t transfer as much through the pipes and dead space (plus who doesn’t love that extra bathroom reverb on their sound?). Walk-in closets also make a great “sound booth” since your clothes will absorb lots of sound (a surprisingly common solution for home recording) and are also likely to back to other closets, hallways, etc. so that your wall isn’t shared with a high-use area that may bother others. For many singers, just committing to singing in one of these unusual spaces only is enough!
Beltbox is a super effective little tool! Singing into this handheld device really diminishes sound without changing your experience of singing terribly much. This little handheld thing is SUPER effective (I’ve tried it myself) and budget-friendly. It’s pretty impressive how much sound it muffles— you could practice at full voice in the middle of the night and not bug anyone. But, since it’s cutting the sound, it won’t give you much aural feedback—which is both good and bad. I encourage my singers to practice by FEEL over sound anyway, so singing into the BeltBox is great for repeating the same feeling over (to create muscle memory) while relying on the feel of the action instead of the sound (great practice for not listening to yourself– important for gigging singers who may not always have great monitor access). Of course, for the best experience, you will have to sing full-out into the room occasionally also– But, the Beltbox allows you to cut down practice noise significantly. For more tips on how to maximize your practice, read “Practicing: How vs. How Much?” and “Benefits of Recording Yourself”.
To continue lessening your sound output, a small investment can go a long way. Tools such as sound-absorbing foam, sound-dampening blankets, or even (if you’re willing to be a bit spendy) a portable vocal booth, can seriously reduce the ability of your voice to cross through walls. Keep in mind that the goal is not silence– even if your solution isn’t completely muffling or sound-proofing your vocals, anything you can do to add another layer for the sound waves to travel through helps to break them up and lessen their ability to travel and reach others in separate spaces.
When looking for sound leaks, don’t forget about doors! Doors are generally the main culprit in sound transfer in your home. While walls are likely to have some form of insultation to break up sound waves, doors can range from light and flimsy to (better for cutting sound) heavy solid woods. If your doors seem to be the trouble, a doorway sound curtain could be the solution you need!
Still not sure if singing at home will work for you? Book a free consultation here; let’s chat and sing and test out your options!
Lastly, if home practice just isn’t in the cards for you, some singers practice and join their lessons from their cars! Of course, in this case, you’ll need to be double careful about encouraging good low diaphragmatic breathing and support (harder to accomplish while seated, but not impossible). However, car singing is better than no singing! You could also try reaching out to your local churches to rent (or trade volunteer hours for) their choir practice spaces when not in use, or local universities and schools (especially those which offer music performance degree programs since they likely have dedicated practice spaces available) to see if rental options may exist there. Good luck finding the right fit for your singing needs!