The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

November 14, 2013

Spanish pianist could face jail for practicing

MADRID — To most people, noise pollution is a jet engine roaring over their head. For one Spanish woman, it was a neighbor playing the piano more softly than a spoken conversation.

The woman has taken her neighbors in the apartment below — a 27-year-old pianist and her parents — to court. Now prosecutors want to send all three to jail for over seven years on charges of psychological damage and noise pollution.

In a country known for its exuberant noisiness, the case has raised eyebrows. Neighbors often complain about street and bar noise in Spain, but prosecutors seeking jail time for someone practicing the piano is unheard of — especially since that musician is now a professional concert pianist.

At the trial in the northeastern city of Gerona, Sonia Bosom claimed she suffered noise pollution from 2003 to 2007 due to the five-days-a-week, eight-hour practice sessions of Laia Martin, who lived below her in the northeastern town of Puigcerda.

Martin, 27, denies that she played at home that often, saying she took regular classes in other towns. She claims she mostly practiced at home on the weekends.

On Monday, the first day of the trial, the El Pais newspaper reported that Bosom told the court she now hates pianos so much she can’t even stand to see them in a film.

The prosecution claims that years of hearing constant playing has caused Bosom “psychological injury.” Medical reports showed she suffered from a variety of problems, including insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks and gynecological problems.

Bosom and her family moved in 2007 and she says she has had to take time off work, reportedly due to her problems.

The prosecutor said tests by local authorities found that the sound levels made by the piano were repeatedly up to 10 decibels higher than the 30-decibel limit laid down for musical instruments in the town. City authorities asked the family several times to either stop the piano playing or soundproof the room.

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