For a lot of people, a well-rounded life means learning to play some musical instruments.
The trouble with learning to play instruments is that everyone sounds like a butcher in the beginning.
Whether your kid fancies themselves the next Dave Grohl and drums on everything from the kitchen counter to the mini-van’s dashboard, or they want to follow in the orchestral tracks of Yo-Yo Ma with a violin or cello, there’s a lot to be said for taking the time to do a little soundproofing for their practice room before they take up the instrument.
Some serious straight-talkin’
Let’s be honest. Serious soundproofing is serious work. There are neat products like fancy sound panels and the famous Green Glue, which turns sound energy into heat (whoa) and crushes noise. Doesn’t science rock? That’s a crazy-smart invention.
It’ll cost you some serious coin too, but if you’re really wanting to encourage the musician in your kid, it might be worth getting serious.
The trouble with soundproofing is that there isn’t one thing you can do that fixes the whole deal. You can’t just treat the walls, because the floor, door, windows, and ceiling are all a part of the problem too.
So here are a whole bunch of things to consider if soundproofing is an idea you’re considering.
Dealing with doors
Hollow-core doors are not meant to dampen sound. Solid-core doors are, though, and they’re a big help. Then there’s the gaps around the door which can be solved with different acoustic seal strips. You can get fancy automatic door bottoms that seal off sound with neoprene but they sound expensive and very tricky to install.
In my day we just rolled up mats and pressed them against the bottom of the door. It’s not perfect, but it helps and the trick saved me when I lived in an apartment with tile hallways where every sound echoed!
Fussing with floors
A lot of flooring products are rated for sound-dampening when they’re good at it, like quality engineered floors, floating cork flooring, and rubberized products. There are underlayments and subfloors that are also solid at soundproofing. If you can’t redo the floors because it’s a big expensive project, that’s understandable.
Instead, you can collect rugs and mats and go for a Sultan’s tent feel with overlapping rugs. Mass and density block sound too, so thicker rugs will do a lot to prevent, or at least muffle, sound carrying through the floor.
Walls and ceilings, oh my
From using Green Glue with additional sheet-rock through to installing professional baffles, there are a lot of expensive, effective solutions. Budget solutions are tricky for this. Egg cartons are a popular myth that do help a bit, but the styrofoam ones work better than the cardboard ones do.
Hanging lots of textiles or even putting some funky carpet up a whole wall (think Get Him to the Greek and the shag wall) could be a conversation piece and a huge sound dampener.
Make sure stuff like framed art, mirrors, and such are all mounted with little rubber backings to prevent them clattering on the walls in case of bass and drums shaking things. Heavy curtains aren’t just great for sleeping restfully, they’re also good at muffling echo and sound in rooms.
It’s Worth It When There’s Passion
There’s no getting around it — soundproofing can be a costly, involved effort, but if you think you have years of 2, 3, or more hours of music practice a day to listen to, wouldn’t it be nice to have the option of not having to listen to it? You can always open the door if you feel like hearing Stairway to Heaven on the guitar one more time.
You never know. Your child’s life might be profoundly changed when they’re introduced to music. For some of us, it’s that which keeps us buffered from the world. Like Maya Angelou once wrote, “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
Your musical prodigy
Do your kids indulge in making music? Where do they do it at your house?
What measures have you taken to soundproof a space for them at home?
Tell us all about it in the comments section of this post.