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New York Saxophonist Could Be Evicted for Practicing

A news story that must be making many apartment-dwelling musicians nervous has been making the rounds in recent weeks: New York-based saxophonist David Schnitter, 59, has been warned by a judge that if he keeps bothering neighbors with his practicing, he’ll find himself out on the street.

Schnitter is a resident of the Manhattan Plaza apartment complex in the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan. The law, says Schnitter, allows him to practice until 10 PM, for up to three hours, but the musician says that he is being singled out by being warned not to practice at all. Tenants have complained that Schnitter regularly practices all day long, and is driving them crazy by playing the same note or the same scale for up to 40 minutes at a time.

Schnitter, who has lived in the 20th story apartment for 30 years, says that when he was accepted into the building the management knew he was a practicing musician, but that “yuppies” who have moved into the building in recent years are less tolerant of artists plying their craft. He says that the complaints started in 2004.

The current management has said that it has no problem with Schnitter’s practicing as long as he doesn’t disturb other tenants, and some tenants have admitted they never hear him at all, but the judge has refused to listen to those supporters’ testimony. Schnitter contends that the complaints have come from only a handful of neighbors.

Schnitter has not yet tried to soundproof the apartment, and says he doesn’t feel he should have to. In the meantime, he has taken to practicing in the building’s basement, where each tenant who wishes to do so is allowed one and a half hours of practice time. But with many other musicians sharing the building, Schnitter says that that’s not enough time for him to get done what he needs to get done.

Originally Published