Making Music in Student Halls: A Guide

It’s pretty easy to be unintentionally loud living in student halls, but it’s important not to let the close-knit culture of halls limit your enjoyment of music

Article by Dylan Tuck | 12 Sep 2019
  • Mica Warren Music Illustration Section

In halls, the walls are paper-thin, and moving about without being as noisy as smashing two frying pans together can often be a challenge. With that can come an all-too-tempting feeling that you need to silence yourself to avoid being overly loud, especially during the timid, early days just after you’ve moved in. But the fact is, that mindset just starts you off in completely the wrong way, and develops an unhealthy way of living during your time in accommodation, which can be particularly detrimental to those who enjoy playing or writing music. While it can be difficult to settle in and make music in your new home, it’s important to remember that your space is your space, and you should feel free to do whatever music you want to in halls. 

What to do

From the get-go, play your instrument, sing, listen to music, or do whatever it is you normally do with freedom. It’s easy to succumb to the idea that being heard playing your instrument, singing, or even just having your music tastes known can be embarrassing when others can listen in, but in reality, it really isn’t. You’re in halls for a long time, and it’s important to start on the right foot and allow yourself to do what you enjoy.  

Another thing: if you make music, try and meet other people who do the same. If you’re lucky enough to have people like that in your flat, then you’ve hit the jackpot. If not, ask around your friends, join some societies and meet other people. Scottish cities are full of creatives looking to meet others and get creative, and being at university offers a great chance to do just that. If you’re looking to start a band, then sites like JoinMyBand and BandMix are great, and from there, you can hire band practice spaces across most Scottish cities for fairly small prices – so it’s not like you’d have to bring the whole group back to your tiny bedroom.

What to avoid

If you play an instrument, then stopping playing altogether is the absolute worst thing you can do. It’s like any skill – playing an instrument needs practice to get better, and if you don’t, you can quickly lose touch of the talent you have. If you find practising in your boxed-in bedroom difficult, then perhaps looking outside of halls for alternative places may be better. Around universities, there are bound to be music rooms that can be pre-booked out, and often provide certain equipment themselves. That way you’ve got a designated space just for being loud. 

That said, while alternative spaces are good, it’s important not to feel silenced in your halls. That’s why setting precedent from the start by doing your thing soon after you’ve moved in is a good habit to form. It’s okay to be a bit timid at first – who wouldn’t be? – but by playing music right from the start, it becomes something to find comfort in when starting somewhere new and even lets your flatmates know that this is what you do, and what you’ll continue to do. 

Finally, be careful not to go too far the other way. If you’re loudly singing along to ABBA at 4am before your roommate next door's exam, then you’re going to get told to shut up. Do music your way, but just be courteous and aware of the others you live with – there’s no point pissing people off, so be careful that you’re not being mega loud or playing at bad times.