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Unleash the Song in Your Heart Without Leaving the Building

On Tuesdays at 5 p.m., the Singh brothers, Vikram, 8, and Sidarth, 11, have a standing lesson with their piano teacher, who meets them in the Sound Lounge, a 775-square-foot recording studio. The lounge is decked out with leather couches, wallpaper with a design that resembles stacks of speakers, huge TVs, a state-of-the-art audio/visual system, microphones and an array of instruments — piano, keyboard, guitars, drum set and even maracas.

The professional-grade experience was designed by the famed musicianLenny Kravitz, who fashioned the space after his own recording studio, and is situated in the lower level of the Singhs’ Upper East Side building, the Kent.

The good news: The boys are pretty good. Even better news: They are not playing the instruments in their apartment, something that is truly appreciated by their parents — and perhaps their neighbors. (Sidarthis also taking percussion at school.)

If music soothes the savage breast, then residents who live in the handful of buildings in New York City whose developers chose to include mellifluous amenities — soundproof rooms, rehearsal spaces, mini theaters, even recording studios — were more than calmed. The need for residents to release their artistic desires, increased by pent-up pandemic frustrations and quarantining, were not only met, but were embraced.

Amenities like music rooms are often free in newly built condominiums like the Kent. The Singh boys have a 45-minute lesson twice a week, arranged privately by their parents, and practice sessions several times a week. “This room blew our minds and factored into us buying here,” said Dr. Shilpa Paradkar Singh, 44, a primary care physician at Atrium Medical, in Midtown. “You don’t usually see this kind of opulence. It was terrific knowing your kids could come and play instruments and sing, especially during the pandemic while their father was on Zoom or the phone for business.”

The Singh boys agreed.

Dr. Shilpa Paradkar Singh, left, with her sons Vikram and Sidarth, at the Kent on the Upper East Side. “To know Lenny Kravitz designed it adds a cool factor,” she said.Credit…Katherine Marks for The New York Times

The room has an array of instruments, including a drum set, guitars, tambourines and maracas.Credit…Katherine Marks for The New York Times
One big benefit of the space is that it is separated from the neighbors.Credit…Katherine Marks for The New York Times

“It’s great to have this here,” Vikramsaid. “It’s hard to get a grand piano in your apartment and this one has everything you need to play professionally.”

His brother checked off the instruments he has access to. “Sometimes I pick up the guitar and bang around on the drums and chill out,” Sidarthsaid. “There’s more freedom down here.”

“To know Lenny Kravitz designed it adds a cool factor,” Dr. Paradkar Singh said. “But it’s been a great outlet for the kids and for me. Especially with the drums.”

The Singhs bought their three-bedroom apartment in 2018 after moving from Westchester. (A four-bedroom was listed at the Kent for $5.5 million in early December.)

When inspiration hits the singer and songwriter Harper Finn, 24, a resident of Front & York, in Dumbo, he rushes out of his 1,200-square-foot apartment on the 14th floor, which he and his two roommates rent from a condo owner in the building, and jumps in the elevator. (The $9,500 monthly rent is split evenly among the three roommates.)

When the doors open on the eighth floor, he hurries past the pool and fitness center, and enters the music room, where a Baldwin upright piano, desk and couch await.

“Before we found this building, I was taking the train to 42nd Street and hoping to find a place where I could rent a piano for the day or by the hour,” said Mr. Finn, who moved to New York from New Zealand in March and has since signed with Warner Music New Zealand and Atlantic Records. “To be able to leave the apartment, but not the building, and physically move to another location to work has been incredible.”

During his first seven months at Front & York, Mr. Finn, a member of the musical Finn family of New Zealand, could be found five nights a week tickling the ivories until the room closed at 10 p.m. He said he has written 10 songs: an album’s worth.

“Having the music room has been lifesaving. It’s one reason we moved here. The album I’m recording now would not have been possible without it,” he said, adding that when he returns to his apartment upstairs, “I feel creatively fulfilled and like I’ve been at work all day. I’ve developed a relationship with this room.”

(In early December, a one-bedroom condo at Front & York was listed for $955,000, and penthouses started at $3.45 million.)

Mr. Finn’s feelings make perfect sense to Elizabeth H. Margulis, a professor of music at Princeton University, who focuses on the fusion of music and cognitive science. “Music supports identity,” she said. “It can also serve as a kind of social interaction when other community opportunities don’t exit.”

Harper Finn rents an apartment with two roommates at Front & York in Dumbo, Brooklyn. He has used the music room in the building to write 10 songs.Credit…Katherine Marks for The New York Times
Mr. Finn once had to run all over town to find a space where he could write songs. Now he has a music room in his own Brooklyn building.Credit…Katherine Marks for The New York Times

With the popularity of TikTok and other social media platforms, it’s commonplace to see neighbors starting a garage band while someone’s child captures the experience on their smartphone. And let’s not forget the podcast everyone is intent on having. Soundproof, windowless recording rooms are perfect for those.

“More people think of themselves as music makers and have different tools to create and share themselves performing than before,” she said. “Because there’s more activity in that space, developers are taking an interest in something that supports those activities.”

Indeed.

Situated underground within the three high-rise towers that create the newly erected Waterline Square, a condo and rental development in the West 60s at the Hudson River, is a 658-square-foot professional-level music and recording studio, which is part of the Waterline Club.

Jordan Haskins, 31, the director of the Waterline Club, who oversees the residential amenity space, said that during the past year he has worked on six professional recordings with club members and has organized jam sessions with several residents. (Mr. Haskins said that the building is populated with recognizable names in the music and theatrical industry, but was not at liberty to share any. )

The space offers numerous instruments, a D.J. mixing board, a Trident sound mixer with music production software, and a sound booth for playback and talk back to the performers. The club is free to condo owners, but renters must pay $250 per month ($80 for kids) to use any of the building’s amenities. Reserving it for that post-pandemic album you’ve been dying to cut will cost you $100 per hour.

“To see members who have no music background utilize these spaces and learn an instrument has been touching and powerful,” Mr. Haskins said. In a given week 100 to 175 residents utilize the space for a variety of creative endeavors. “The developers wanted to create a place where anyone could come in and express themselves. This became so important, especially during a time when people needed an artistic outlet and had been suppressed. It’s been very valuable.”

(Prices for condos available in December began at $4.04 million for a two-bedroom condo and rose to $27 million for the development’s last-remaining five-bedroom penthouse. Rentals began at $5,873 month for a one-bedroom and $22,145 a month for a four-bedroom.)

Other harmonious residential moments can be found at: Two Fifty West 81st Street, where amenities include a music room, a recording studio with a mixing board, sound booth, and a selection of instruments; 575 Fourth Avenue, in Brooklyn, which houses a soundproof music room with professional-grade equipment, instruments and a recording platform; and the Vandewater, in Morningside Heights, which features a soundproof room and a performance stage.

The Quay Tower, in Brooklyn, is in a partnership with the Brooklyn Music School, which helped influence the construction of their music room, complete with a baby grand piano. The school also teaches monthly classes for residents, including jazz, vocal arts, percussion, and music therapy. (The ukulele class was a surprise hit.) Professors can also be hired to give private lessons.

“Teachers prefer kids learn on a professional, proper instrument with better sound,” said Dr. Paradkar Singh. “It’s the difference between a lesson vs. learning, as opposed to being in a corner practicing on a keyboard.”

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