Sound fights any effort to keep it down : Deploy acoustic-foam tiles and drapery, and if all else fails, charm the neighbors.

''Stack rugs or wrestling mats on the floor,'' says Yoron Israel, who leads the percussion department at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Sound doesn't want to be contained; it undulates easily through air, concrete, brick and wood.

In fact, it moves faster, through solids with their more densely packed molecules. An acoustic drum set is a high-decibel instrument with low frequencies particularly suited to spreading.

Adjust your expectations : You can't truly soundproof a room without decoupling it from the larger structure, which means building a new room within your existing room, preferably with several inches of air space and acoustic insulation between the two.

Such a project will cost thousands of dollars, and if you are a renter, landlords are not likely to sign off/ 

You can buy pricey, prefabricated sound-insulation rooms, but Mr. Israel often advises his percussion students to take the cheaper sound-dampening route. To do that you'll want to hang drapery, acoustic-foam tiles or eleven mattress toppers over walls, ceilings, floors and doors. If you're a drummer and can get away with it, leave your window uncovered.

''You deserve light,'' Mr. Israel says,'' People always make drummers play in basements.''

Your noise is a problem only if someone who hears it is displeased. Befriend your neighbors. Mr. Israel took up the drums as a child in a third-floor apartment in Chicago. Luckily, five of the six apartments in the building were occupied by family members who were mostly tolerant and sometimes even encouraging.

If someone tells you to tone it down, calmly negotiate with them. ''Try to get to some kind of a compromise,'' Mr. Israel says. Most often, that will mean finding a stretch of time every day when your neighbors are away and you can play with abandon. Of course, Covid-19 had made such conditions harder to come-by.

In recent months, Mr. Israel has suggested that the students soundproof themselves instead, by using rubber pads that go over drum heads and cymbals or electronic drum sets.

Though these are workable solutions, Israel feels for his young, muted students, whose crestfallen faces he sees over Zoom, often back in their childhood homes playing with headphones on electronic drum sets only they can hear.

''It's been emotional for them,'' he says.

The World Students Society thanks author Malia Wollan.


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