Today, most students have access to a smartphone or tablet. However, these devices may not be fully utilized in the practice room or during lessons. Apps for smartphones are generally inexpensive and can be extremely valuable to college-age musicians. The PAS University Committee has compiled a short list of curated apps to enhance musical growth in the practice room for the college musician. This list is not all-inclusive but focuses on some of our favorites. Most of these apps can be found on both iOS and Android platforms, and any deviations are noted. Hopefully this series of articles will allow you to get the most out of your smart device in the practice room!
APPS FOR HEARING HEALTH
Hearing safety and hearing loss prevention should be a top priority for every musician. Knowing when to wear hearing protection can be difficult for musicians because the instrument volumes experienced on stage or in the practice room are normally at or above the safety threshold. The apps below allow you to easily monitor the sound levels around you or provide hearing tests that allow you to monitor your hearing health.
Sound Level Meter Pro
by Mint Muse
With this app, you have one of the most detailed decibel meters available on any app store. Sound Level Meter Pro offers a high peak range of 110dB, five frequency weightings, and is specifically calibrated for 36 Apple devices. Meter performance is comparable to some of the most expensive analog meters on the market. It also includes detailed graphs, readings over time, and the ability to capture photos of your sound sources.
Sound Meter Pro
by Mobile Essentials
This is a simple decibel meter that shows you the current decibel level of your surroundings. Also, the app can provide a graph of the noise levels over time. In addition, the app can provide comparisons of your results to similar sound sources (e.g., the sound of an alarm clock at 80 dB). However, this app doesn’t provide as much detailed information or the accuracy of the higher-end apps.
SPLnFFT Noise Meter
by Fabian Lefebvre
With this app, making a judgement call about whether or not to wear earplugs is easy. A color-coded bar in the app turns green when the sound level is safe, yellow when it is becoming destructive, and red when hearing protection is needed. The app also keeps track of the maximum and minimum sound levels per session, and you can read the results in a scale setting, bar graph, or histogram.
by Unitron Hearing Ltd.
This app allows you to take various hearing tests to see if you have hearing loss. These tests can measure your hearing in certain frequencies, measure your ability to comprehend conversations in noisy environments, and provide suggestions for doctor consultation based on your answers to a brief set of questions. The tests appear to be quite accurate, but results depend on your available headphones and the quietness of your testing environment.
Test Your Hearing
This app provides two hearing tests to determine if you have hearing loss. One test presents 25 tones in a frequency range and asks if you can hear them. The other test presents 25 tone pairs and ask if you can hear a difference between them. Then the app displays your results and shows an animal with your same hearing abilities.
Many musicians worry about losing the subtleties of their ears when wearing ear protection, but with a pair of musician earplugs, the sound quality is not compromised. By visiting with an audiologist, you can have your hearing tested and be fitted for custom molded earplugs for musicians that come with a variety of filter levels to reduce a range of decibel levels.
Peter Soroka is a diverse percussionist pursuing a Doctor of Music degree in Percussion Performance at Florida State University. He holds performance degrees from the University of North Texas and Virginia Commonwealth University, and has performed with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia Gulf Coast in Destin, Florida.
Micheal Barnes is a master’s student at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and has performed with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, the Ft. Smith Symphony, and the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas. He was recently awarded a teaching fellowship to work with the National Youth Orchestra and Choir of Belize, as well as being awarded the Mary Grey Thompson Award for outstanding contributions to the University of Oklahoma College of Fine Arts.