Dear Miriam | The House is Alive …

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Dear Miriam,

I have two children: one who is learning to play the trumpet and one who hates the sound of the trumpet. How can I keep the peace in my house and give both of my kids what they need: practice time and quiet?


Small House, Loud Music

Dear Music,

This is fundamentally the ultimate parenting question. Your version is coming in the form of a trumpet, but every parent raising siblings has at some point realized that what is in one child’s best interest directly conflicts with another child’s needs and desires. While, yes, this is about a trumpet, being able to navigate this scenario successfully will help you immensely with other sibling tensions and will help your kids know that you are on both of their sides.

If possible, the best solution would be to help your musician create a practice schedule that revolves around times when their sibling is out of the house or engaged in another activity. Consider whether you could arrange to take the one who needs quiet on errands during this time or even on a walk around the block. Even if an arrangement like this could work most of the time, though, there will be other times when your kids and their needs will need to coexist.

In anticipation of those moments, take some time to talk to your children separately from each other. Find out how much, really, your music-loving kiddo needs or expects to practice each day. Set up a practice space, ideally in a room with a door that closes. Explain that you’ll be glad to come to that space to hear a new accomplishment or a particularly tricky piece, but the trumpet should stay in that designated area when the sibling is around.

Then talk to your quiet-loving child. Find out if there’s any amount of trumpet-playing that is tolerable, if there are any times of day that are better or worse for hearing it and if there are any activities (watching TV, listening to a podcast with headphones, talking to a friend) that can drown out the sound or at least cut down on the irritation. Offer to invest in headphones or earplugs if that will ease their discomfort.

Once you have answers from both of them, bring them together. Do some experiments where you send them each to different parts of the house to rate the noise. Make this experience into a game or, better yet, a family bonding activity that shows them that both of their needs are important and how you and everyone else in the household will help them reach workable compromises.

This will not be the first time where your children’s needs are at odds with each other, but how you handle this test case could ease the impact of future conflicts.

Be well,



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