Practice, practice, practice. If you live with or near other human
beings, be kind. Put a tea towel between the cross-pieces and the hide
to dampen the sound even more.
Better yet, use Brenda's handy dandy paint brush tipper. You can
make your own with two 1" paint brushes taped together so the metal
crimp holding the bristles is completely covered. (Uncovered metal
edges might damage the drum hide.)
This practice tipper is solid enough to create the sturdy beat, but the
brushes produce a wispy, almost jazzy sound. It's quiet enough not to
make your housemates crazy, and you may even come to enjoy the sound.
Brenda's Paintbrush Tipper
Shown in relation to a normal 8" tipper.