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by Abigail Van Buren

Practicing Musicians Rock Neighbors' Peace and Quiet

DEAR ABBY: We are a group of neighbors who have lived in this area for 40 years or more. Some of us work nights and sleep days. This has always been a quiet, well-tended area until recently.

A new family with young adult children moved into our neighborhood. One of them wants to be a drummer and practices constantly. To be honest, he has no talent. On weekends, his friends practice with him. They are just as bad. One of them thinks he's a singer. I've heard mating cats that sounded better. Between this would-be drummer, the truly bad singer and the loud amps, our weekends have become nightmares.

It's not that we don't like modern music. Our son plays the drums with a group, and our nephew plays keyboard and sings with a professional group.

We have asked them to tone it down, or to simply give us a break now and then. You can't believe the rude answers we have received. At one point, I was told that I could always move.

Recently, one of the neighbors was injured at work and suffered a heart attack during surgery. His doctor ordered complete bed rest and no stress. Because of the noise, this is impossible. The parents of the drummer refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem.

Other than committing mayhem, what can we do to restore our peace and quiet? Please advise before someone loses control. -- DESPERATE NEIGHBORS IN L.A.

DEAR DESPERATE: Since the parents of the young musician have refused to meet you halfway, you must consider other options.

Investing in earplugs might bring some relief, and soundproofing your homes could be another option. Also consider sound-absorbing drapes with acoustical linings, double-glazed windows or storm windows, upholstered walls and wood paneling with insulation between the paneling and walls.

Most cities have noise ordinances. Show a copy of the ordinance to your neighbors. (Noise can be measured with a device called a "decibel meter," which is available in some electronics stores or through specialty catalogs.) If the noise violates the noise restrictions in your neighborhood, as a last resort, the courts may be able to provide a solution to your problem.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Megan," asked "Adam," the boy down the street, to a dance. They are both 14 years old. They went and had a good time. Over the next few weeks, Megan and Adam saw each other a couple of times, always in supervised situations.

Adam has two younger sisters, 7 and 2 years old. Megan has been their baby sitter on occasion. After my daughter and Adam had seen each other several times, Adam's mother again asked Megan to baby-sit.

When Megan got to their house, she found that Adam was going to be there all evening, too. Knowing I would not approve of her being alone with Adam, Megan phoned me. I walked down to find out exactly what Adam's plans for the evening were. He said he wasn't going anywhere, but I could trust him. I told him it wasn't a matter of trust, but Megan wasn't allowed to stay with a boy unchaperoned. I decided to stay until Adam's mother got home.

Now everyone is calling me "overprotective." What do you think? -- PROTECTIVE MOM

DEAR PROTECTIVE MOM: It would seem that Adam is old enough to baby-sit for his own sisters, since he is the same age as your daughter. However, since Adam's mother preferred to have Megan care for the children, she should have let you know that Adam would be there also. You and Megan would then have had an opportunity to discuss how to handle the situation.

Since you did not have all the information up front, there was no harm in your staying with your daughter until the mother returned.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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