Many pianists have hitthis bump thathe really hasto play the piano late at night due to either his working hours or the necessity to practice doubly hard for that audition,performance, orpiano exam the next day. But in ourtiny land-scarce Singapore, residential flats are built so close to each other, and it is not uncommon thata dog’s barkingor a couple’s quarrelingin the neighbourhood isaudible enough in the slience of the night. It is, thus, important to find a compromise so that you can still play the piano without disturbing your neighbours.
In our previous Read article What time after must you stop playing the piano at night in Singapore?, we find out that piano playing should be stopped 10.30pm onwards. But all hopes are not lost yet! Here are a few solutions that let you go on after 10.30pm.
Use the middle practicepedal.
Almost every piano has 3 pedals, anddepending on the kind of piano you are playing, the middle pedal can be either the practice or the sostenuto pedal. In Singapore, upright pianos usuallyhave the former (practice pedal).High end upright pianos, on the other hand,usually come with thesostenuto pedal instead. When depressed, the practice pedal actuallyputs a piece of felt between the hammers and the strings, so that there is no direct contact between them. Volume can drop by as much as half.Luckily, you do not have to keep your foot on constantly to stay in practice mode. Just depress it,slide your foot to the left and lock it into place! You can also learn more about How does a Piano work. As a side note, not many pianists appreciate the sostenuto pedal though, because they hardly use it, and would prefer the practice pedal instead – which is more practical.
Retrofit your existing piano with a silence system.
This involves buying a silence system,and installing it with a herculeanamount of patience and precision. Watch this 35-minYouTube videoto be impressed (or shocked).How does this work?Basically, you disassemble your existing upright pianoand place sensors underneath the keyboard and pedals, so that when you switch the piano to silent mode, the hammers will be blocked by the rail of felt, and the movement of the keys are detected by the sensors which convert it into a MIDI signal. This signal is then relayed to a digital system which is housed in a box that looks like a DVD-player with a LED screen, audio jacks, volume knob, record, stop, and play buttons. Attach your headphone to the audio jack, and you can hear yourself playing. Because it is a digital system, you can set the output instrument to a Church Organ, and what you play on the piano now produces organ sounds to your headphones!Ta-dah! One such system is theGENIO silent systemwhichretailsat SGD1,199 andcan be purchased from Cristofori outlets. Most of us will pay for the installation, period.
Sound proof your room.
While it sounds really cool to be able to have a sound-proof-ed room, it can be a costly solution. Because sound travels through objects and the air, you have to invest in a combination of commercial sound-proofing products for the best overall result.For the air component,your room has to be as air tight as possible. This means a simple stuffing of towel under your door helps. Commerical products go further by sealing up the seams or cracksfound at the door and the windows. Now, to prevent the sound from travelling through objects like your walls, ceilings, and floors;commercial products are generally made up of (i)sound absorption materials that reduce echoes and reverberations, and (ii) thick wood installed on the room walls to deal with the sounds oflower frequencies. Double windows help too. Be prepared to fork out at least SGD5,000 for a basic touch-up.
Invest in a silent piano.
Well, it is a lot easier if your piano is a silent piano to begin with.The difference in price between that of aSGD14,700 acousticYamaha YUS5and a SGD20,900silentYamaha YUS5 SH is SGD6,200. No need to sound-proof your room. No need to retrofit your existing piano with a silence system. But this is usually not a clear option at the start, especially for parents who are buying piano for the first time, and are unwilling to invest in a pricier pianofor their child – who might lose interest in learning piano after a short while.
Happy playing in the night!