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Musician Calls for the Protection For the Right to Play Musical Instruments

A classical musician who had to move out of her London flat following noise complaints has started a petition calling for clarification around music practice in relation to statutory nuisance laws, which the MU has followed up with a letter to Lewisham Council.

Published: 23 May 2023 | 12:35 PM Updated: 26 May 2023 | 12:21 PM
A view panning over rooftops indicating dense housing in an area of Lewisham.
“Our members have to practise regularly – it’s an essential part of their job and they don’t always have external rehearsal space to go to.” Photo credit: Shutterstock

Classical musician Fiona Fey has raised concerns on social media and through a change dot org petition on how noise complaints are handled in relation to music practice, after being forced to move from her Lewisham flat.

Noise complaints can be a postcode lottery

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl was quoted extensively in a Guardian article covering Fiona Fey’s story, reinforcing how essential space to practice is for working musicians, and how MU members can face a postcode lottery when it came to noise complaints.

Naomi said:

“Different councils, different individuals, handle it in a different way, unfortunately,” she said. “There’s no kind of set parameters. If you’re making music in a work environment, then there are set decibel levels for health and safety reasons. But you don’t have that in your home.

“Our members have to practise regularly – it’s an essential part of their job and they don’t always have external rehearsal space to go to, particularly if they’re freelancers. More people are working from home, so I imagine we’re going to get more of these issues cropping up.”

Over 85,000 signatures in support of Fiona Fey’s petition

Over 85,000 people have signed Fiona Fey’s petition so far, which she began three weeks ago, after it became widely circulated on social media. In it she explained how:

“Last week I was served a noise abatement notice by Lewisham Council that forbids me to play any musical instrument in my home at any time.

I am a musician, it is my job to practise.

If I do, Lewisham Council can force entry, confiscate all my instruments and fine me £5000.”

You can sign Fiona Fey’s petition now through change dot org.

As well as expressing our support on social media, the MU’s Regional Organiser for London Jamie Pullman has written to Lewisham Council about the issue on behalf of the MU.

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