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Apartment feud over pianist who never gets any better

Playing any acoustic instrument can be a problem in confined spaces and the piano is no exception. Unless you’ve invested in a silent piano or are happy to practice at home with a digital piano, you are almost certain to disturb your neighbours at some point when you play.

Now, some people love the sound of the piano, and some hate it. Even those who like it might be irked if you pursue a daily regimen of scales, arpeggios and practice.

When I lived with my parents in their detached house, my neighbour could still hear me play from time to time. Fortunately he seemed to like the sound, and commented as such. That said, I was young so played during the day, and not for hours at a time.

Now consider being in an apartment, living above someone who plays piano as part of their living. That’s the predicament faced by New York resident Joseph Nedlin, who has fallen out with his downstairs neighbour Jonathan Breit.

“He practices scales for an hour and a half. He has no concern for anyone else,” Nedlin said. Apparently the matter is made worse because, “He never gets better. If he got better, I might say, ‘OK, it’s not that bad'”.

Breit says that he abides by the rules; in particular not playing between 11pm and 8am the next day, but Nedlin says his work and personal life is adversely affected by the playing and is suing Breit, the building’s board and its management company for breaking building rules that prohibit “any unreasonable noises.”

Breit is apparently unrepentant, and also won’t entertain the idea of using a digital instrument in his home, despite the fact that “David Letterman’s drummer lives in the building and practices on a quiet electric drum set”.

And even after all this, Breit hopes he “can resolve the situation amicably,” saying, “This is definitely an Upper West Side problem.”

Has your piano or synth playing ever strained neighbour or familial relationships?