A recent post by David Pogue on his NYT blog highlighted some medically-oriented iPhone apps. Though not designed with musicians in mind, this free app might be very helpful to musicians of all kinds in monitoring the state of their hearing:

uHear™ is a unique hearing loss screening test application available for download to the iPhone™ and iPod touch®. With uHear, you can identify a potential hearing loss through three assessments: Hearing Sensitivity, Speech in Noise and a Questionnaire about common listening situations. uHear also offers a ‘Locate’ function to help find the nearest Hearing Health Care Professional for a full follow-up.

uHear is for everyone. You can curb your curiosity with a simple and convenient six minute test from the comfort of your home. Parents and teachers can use uHear to promote healthy hearing. You can share it with your family and friends.

uHear is available for download on iTunes® for free.

I downloaded it and tried it out, with pretty reassuring results. Of course it’s not a substitute for a test done by a professional, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to download it and try it. It’s possible to save test results for comparison over time to monitor the deterioration of your hearing (sorry, but that is what’s going to happen to you). And it’s a lot easier than making an appointment with an audiologist.

Another medical-related app that might be of interest to musicians who travel a lot is JetLag RX (although it’s not yet available on the iTMS). It recommends a schedule for coping with jet lag, based on travel information inputted by the user. I sure could have used it on my recent trip to Hong Kong; the jet lag coming home put me in fetal position for a couple of weeks.

For the aging orchestra musician, there’s Eyeglasses, which uses the iPhone’s built-in lens to magnify type (useful for figuring out if that glissando in your part is the last conductor’s dumb idea or was what Mahler really wanted). If you need soundAMP, which turns the iPhone into a hearing aid, you waited too long before using uHear.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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