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Practicing the clarinet at home without disturbing anyone can be tricky. And sometimes it can get outright ugly, especially if neighbors are around. Producing almost 114 decibels which can be equated to the sound you hear from a steel mill, this would explain why neighbors lose their cool whenever you play or attempt to play the clarinet.
To muffle a clarinet, try playing in a closet full of hanging clothes, use a muter, play in a noisy area such as a garage or near a washing machine, or play silently. Another option is to soundproof an area in your house.
You should not expect a 100% noise suppression with most of these techniques. Nonetheless, they will work to ensure that you coexist peacefully with your neighbors as you continue to play your clarinet. Read on to find out how you can muffle your clarinet.
Play Your Clarinet in a Closet Full of Hanging Clothes
This is the oldest trick in the book for clarinet players and other music players. It follows the scientific fact that sound travels in all directions. And as it does, it dissipates as it gets further from the source. In the process, if sound released encounters an object, it causes the object to vibrate. However, if it doesn’t, it disappears due to the lack of a structure to impact.
Now, if we consider that reflection of sound leads to an echo, we get the answer as to how we can dampen or soften the sound produced by a clarinet.
The key is to drape heavy soft fabrics all around the space where you are practicing to absorb the sound. Since soundproofing a room might require more work due to the availability of windows and doors, most people often use a closet.
A closet is small, manageable and you can put your clarinet right in the middle of clothes, thereby muffling the sound it produces. This trick will also work if you travel with your clarinet and feel like practicing in a hotel room.
Use Rugs and Carpet
If you are practicing your clarinet in a closet and wondering what else you can do to reduce the sound it produces, try installing a sound dampening rug or carpet. For effectiveness, this rug should be over two inches thick and it should contain plenty of fibers or frays to absorb or drown out the sound. A wool rug will be effective for this.
Soundproof Your House
Studios and other professional buildings rely on expensive soundproofing devices to minimize noise levels.
But since we want to achieve results in the shortest time possible and with readily available equipment, these are the things we can do to create a soundproofing system. All these changes will work in tandem to help you muffle the sound around the room and thus helping you practice your clarinet without worrying that it’s too loud.
Rearrange the Room
Rule no. 1 of effective soundproofing is that no noise should escape the room.
But what happens if you live in an apartment that has thin walls? Try pushing your closet or bookshelf against that wall.
By doing this, you will be adding more solid mass to the wall and thus preventing any noise from leaving or entering your room. A soundproof wallpaper can also be helpful in lessening the sound heard from a particular room.
Use Tapestry or Canvas Painting to Decorate Your Room
If you happen to live in a rental apartment, hanging up tapestry is one way to decorate your room and absorb any noise, including the sound from your clarinet. The thicker the material, the better. The objective is to create a soft surface that absorbs sound instead of having hard surfaces that reflect and amplify it.
Use Towels or Blankets to Cover Any Spaces Between the Door or Window
Old towels and blankets also serve as great acoustic insulators by absorbing sound. They are made of soft and porous material making them a good alternative for soundproofing. The more layers of thick fabric used, the less the sound to escape.
How well your room will absorb sound will be quantified by the effective absorption areas of the walls. This is also known as total absorption area.
Drape Blankets Over the Entire Room Where You Play the Clarinet
Since sound loves bouncing off hard objects such as hardwood walls and glass, adding blankets will soften the space making it hard for sound waves to escape the room. Doing this will also make a room more quieter, which is an added advantage.
Use Weatherstripping Tape to Cover the Gaps in Your Window
The key is to get all doors, windows, and vents shut with no possibility of sound escaping. Since getting the gaps between door hinges and windows can be taxing, an easy way is to use weather stripping tape.
If you have a soft draft blocker, like the Fowong 30 Inch Weighted Under Door Draft Stopper (Amazon), you can slide it under your door to prevent the sound from escaping.
Attach Foam Panels on the Ceiling
Acoustic foam is one good way to prevent sound from escaping through the ceiling. Foam panels are a good alternative for absorbing sound and stopping it from bouncing off the walls, which can lead to echoes and other weird sounds.
Any instrument player, including violinists, saxophonists, trombone, and clarinet players, will tell that mutes are one way to muffle the sound produced when playing an instrument.
Although not advised since they alter the tone of your instrument, you can use them when you want to practice but cannot find a place to do so without inconveniencing others.
Note that when you play the clarinet, the sound doesn’t come out from the bell only. This means you will need to cover more than just the bell and this will ultimately change the way your instrument sounds.
Many clarinet players use a brass mute to muffle the sound coming out of a clarinet when practicing.
A running washing machine or engine in a garage can mask the sound produced from a clarinet. But this can work only if the place is already noisy. Otherwise, use the next tip whenever you want to play your clarinet.
Play in a Secluded Place
Finding an isolated place where you can play your clarinet will not only guarantee that you do not inconvenience your neighbors, but it will also amp up your confidence and playing technique.
Since you won’t be wary of disturbing anyone, you will have more freedom to play, test out different notes, and no mute will tamper with the tone or quality of sound that comes from your clarinet. You can also play in the park near you.
DIY Mute for Your Clarinet
If you are ready to put in a little effort, this DIY is fun and easy to do. All the same, it will award you with a mute that you can always use whenever you play the clarinet.
Follow this video to see how you can create a mute for your clarinet:
Alternatively, if you are traveling or in a hotel and you want to practice your clarinet, you can use a heavy sweatshirt to make a mute that muffles the sound of your clarinet.
- Find a heavy sweatshirt.
- Sew the bottom.
- Put one hand through the sleeve so that it settles inside the sweatshirt.
- Put your clarinet through the neck of your sweatshirt and reach out to it using the hand you pushed through the sweatshirt.
- Put your other hand through the remaining sleeve, then start playing.
A clarinet is a beautiful instrument and no doubt, it produces some of the most relaxing tunes if played right. However, it can also be annoying to non-players who may be your neighbors or family members.
Considering that high-level soundproofing can be prohibitively expensive, leverage the above hacks to muffle your clarinet whenever you are practicing.
With all these options, you shouldn’t be wary of disturbing your neighbors. Keep practicing.
Also read: How to Muffle a Tambourine