It seems I am not fated to practice in isolation. At home, the condo is in a building with 449 others. Of course only about fifteen or twenty of them can realistically experience the joyous sounds of Ryan’s Beginner Violin on a daily basis – few grace the seventeenth floor who do not live on the seventeenth floor, and even the loudest between-floors sounds are limited to the immediately adjacent units.
Yesterday was my first hotel practice session. I’m not sure how many rooms this hotel has, but it’s far, far fewer than our condo building. Further, the condo is almost devoid of soft surfaces, except for our bed. We lived with a wonderful (and wonderfully messy) kitty for 15 years, and over time one toll she took on us was our decorating – we have no carpet, and virtually no upholstery of any kind. We have a leather sectional sofa, as well as rigid plastic chairs around the dining table. The point I’m trying to make is the acoustical difference in sound absorption that having some fabric in the room makes. The hotel room is covered with the stuff – a sofa, big drapes on the windows, plush bedding, and, likely the most impactful feature, thick carpeting. The sound of the instrument is definitely muted when surrounded by so much softness.
It’s holiday time, and we’re in Wichita, KS, so it’s not the most crowded hotel – this is one that caters to business travelers working in the many nearby corporate park-type environments – but of course some of the rooms are occupied. And there’s the staff – yesterday as I played I had just returned from grabbing a bite of breakfast and noticed no fewer than about five hotel maid carts in the hallway on our floor. While they cleaned adjacent rooms and Michael was petering around ours, I practiced for about half an hour. I had a great time and nobody said a word. I’m honestly not too sure of the etiquette of hotel room instrument practice. It was about 10 am, so I can’t imagine I’d run afoul of sleeping guests; it seems that anyone sleeping at 10 am is unlikely to be roused by a distant violin.
These days I personally get excited when I hear a stray instrument from afar, though it happens quite rarely. About a month ago I took a walk-around-the-block break at work and heard a violin through an open window – the thing was on fire; I personally wouldn’t mind living next to that! Ryan’s beginner violin? Well, I’m just not sure. No complaints yet.
Thanks for reading.