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Musical Instruments for Small Quarters

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Musical Instruments for Small Quarters

Making music and playing instruments is part of being human. Whether you've been playing your whole life or are just deciding to take up an instrument, creating music has many benefits. But trying to learn or practice an instrument when you live in a small apartment can be difficult. Fortunately, there are easy solutions to most of the problems that arise when you want to play an instrument in your assisted living apartment.

Consider Instrument Size

One of the biggest problems with instruments in an assisted living apartment is that they're just too big. An upright bass or a grand piano won't fit into a compact living space, and if you're someone who enjoys their space, even a full-size guitar or keyboard might be too encroaching. But you don't have to choose between your space and music. There are a wide assortment of musical instruments that will fit in your desk drawer. Consider trying out some of the options below.


The harmonica is one of the most traditional small instruments. Known best for its use in classic Americana genres such as blues, folk and country, this instrument is versatile and works well for any type of music, including contemporary and traditional worship. The bright and powerful timbre of the harmonica sounds great both as a solo instrument or within an ensemble. Keep in mind if you wish to play with other musicians, each harmonica plays in only one key, so buying a few harmonicas in assorted keys may be necessary.

Mini Keyboards

Usually spanning only one or two octaves, miniature keyboards are a great solution if you don't want the spacial burden of a full keyboard. Most mini keyboards have many audio settings, letting you create sounds ranging from trumpets to dogs barking. These keyboards generally have a headphone output for quiet practice and the ability to connect to an amplifier to play for others.

Small Percussion

Small percussive instruments are a fun way to add some rhythmic aspects to worship. They can range from bongos to maracas. These instrument are usually pretty cheap, making them great if you're on a budget. You could also buy multiples of these instruments to bring for people to play when caroling.


Great for playing with a vocalist, the ukulele gives the feel of a guitar without the size. This instrument makes a great addition to worship ensembles, and can make great music as a solo instrument. The ukulele is very popular with younger musicians, so it may also provide the opportunity to jam with your grandchildren. It's also very easy to find practice material for this instrument because of it's growing popularity.

Consider Instrument Loudness

Another issue with instruments in close quarters is the volume. You may find some of your neighbors displeased if you blare a saxophone for an hour. But what's the point of instruments if no one can hear them? You don't have to have noiseless instruments to keep your neighbor happy — you just need a way to practice quietly. Here are a few solutions to try.

Headphone Amps

For any instrument that would usually plug into an amplifier, there's a simple solution: the headphone amp. These amps are very compact and only have a headphone output, so you can hear what you're playing but no one else can. If you choose this option, consider getting a comfortable pair of headphones that won't cause irritation or fatigue after long practice sessions.


Mutes are a tool usually used by horn players. They work by blocking some of the sound coming from your instrument. This solution only blocks some of the sound, but it's still better than playing full volume. If you don't want to buy a mute, you can improvise one by inserting clothe into the end of the instrument. For some horns, you can get completely silent mutes that output sound only through headphones.

Drum Practice Pads

If you play drums, you might experience all kinds of problems trying to practice quietly. Luckily, they can all be solved by getting some practice pads. Drum practice pads are rubber pads that mimic hitting a drum in every way except for the making noise part. You can get one pad to practice rhythms on or build a whole mock drum set. You can even get electronic pads that create virtual drum tones you can hear through headphones.


Keyboards are perfect for quiet practicing because they almost always have a headphone jack. If you play piano or organ, a keyboard is great way to get your part down without disturbing your neighbors or having to go to a practice space with a full-size piano.

 Remember to always be curtious and let people know when you're going to be practicing out loud — some might even ask if they can join you. Whatever instrument you play, there's a way to practice and enjoy it in small quarters, so moving into an assisted living community can go hand-in-hand with your continued love of music.