New Apps for Musicians Via Peak Music Studios -Interview By: Art Fredette
Written by Staff on August 6, 2021
Jeff Moore is co-owner of Peak Music Studios in Latham where he has been teaching guitar, voice and songwriting since 2017. Currently, he is knee-deep in developing two new mobile singing applications, My Singing Coach and Singers Checkup. RadioRadioX got the back story on this local business’ foray into the intersection between music and technology.
RRX: So, what are these apps all about?
JM: The bottom line is that they help make people better singers! Both apps focus on fundamental singing skills and put them together into building blocks that allow singers to make rapid progress—My Singing Coach is for individual singers who don’t have a coach. Singers Checkup is for choir directors, music teachers, and bands.
The core for both apps is technology applied to the voice. We’ve got some high-level software we use in our studio, but the average student doesn’t want to spend $500 on a license for pitch matching. So, you’ve got expensive voice software programs for professionals on one hand or vanity apps that are inaccurate in pitch detection with few features on the other. The choice was either a lot of expensive complexity or a worthless app. We thought we could do better. And we aren’t really competing with most of these apps. A lot of them are vanity apps that have some pitch matching, but are mostly karaoke and other frills that are fun, but really don’t help improve your singing on the whole.
RRX: Why the Capital District, are you natives?
JM: No, both myself and my business and life partner, Crystal, came here over two decades ago and decided to stay. We really like the local music and art scene. I’ve heard people comment the Capital District really doesn’t have much going on in terms of music, and that’s total crap. I’ve been to LA, Nashville, New York, and I prefer it here. We’ve got a lot of talented musicians and vocalists in our area and we think it’s time for a music renaissance—that’s how we got into business here in the first place. We were approached by the late Mike Jacobsen who was the former Economic Development head in the City of Cohoes to open a music school there. He had a vision of a real rocking musical scene locally, and we were well on the way. But then
COVID interrupted everyone’s plans. When we were locked in the house last year, we decided to use our resources to take our studio experience to people through technology to make it more affordable and accessible. On the whole, it turned us in the right direction.
RRX: You’re a musician and music teacher. Developing mobile apps seem like something that would be outside of your comfort zone.
JM: Ordinarily that would be true, but in addition to my studies at Berklee College of Music, I’ve got a Master’s degree in software engineering, so this was a great fit. I’ve been a student of the voice since I was five years old. Speech problems as a kid really kept me focused on my voice and eventually on other people’s voices.
I’m passionate about helping people sing better. After participating in just about every music program out there, I got a solid understanding of what works and what doesn’t. I’ve learned that most people can sing better than they think. It’s a learned physical skillset coupled with practical application. I wanted to develop a program that allowed people the artistic license to sing, and we’ve got one that really works. I love telling people, “Yes, you can sing!” From there it’s a personal choice to put in the work.
RRX: You’re right. Capitaland does have a kick ass music scene. So how exactly do these apps help people sing better?
JM: Over the years, I developed a singing assessment that we give our prospective vocalists in person in our studio, and the response has been really positive. Using specialized software and my own expertise, I can accurately check their ability to match pitch, and give them their current singing range, expected range, and other metrics that we track. We also test them on their aural skills and rhythm, and this helps us determine a course of study. So, we thought, wouldn’t it be cool to make an app that could do this?
At this point, software is mature enough and the average device like a phone, tablet, or desktop has enough computing power that we can provide an easy-to-use app that does a full voice analysis. Based on their results and using artificial intelligence, it’s easy to assign level-appropriate workouts so they can advance to the next singing level. That’s the secret, identify the singer’s skillset and goals, match those skills and goals to appropriate training that hits those areas completely. When they level up, it’s time to change training. It’s that simple. However, it means that a lot of programs don’t meet the needs of the average singer because the approach is often one size fits all.
RRX: That’s cool, but aren’t there other apps out there that do the same thing?
JM: Not really, I’ve used almost all of these—we were looking for one to refer our students to and some of them are OK, but most of them don’t detect pitch well. If pitch matching is inaccurate, all bets are off. Our pitch matching engine is brand new, highly accurate, and takes full advantage of computing advances that have been made over the past two decades. We are also the only studio I know of that uses time to match pitch, or what I call speed of resolution, or SOR for short, in determining a singer’s level—this is a real game changer. Most studios call this ‘flexibility’ or ‘vocal agility’ but they don’t have a metric to describe it.
To top off the functionality, My Singing Coach, has a real-life coaching function where users can submit a 60-second singing sample to a master voice coach for assessment and review right through the app. The coach then gives them specific feedback and recommendations. No other app does that.
RRX: What goes into developing an app?
JM: Money and a lot of work! We really believe in what we’re doing so we took a chunk of our savings to finance the development. Luckily, we were referred to a developer who had done a great job for a local company. When we found out he was also a former sound engineer, we knew it was meant to be. We’ve also worked with a couple of local graphic artists who are working on the app’s esthetics, and we’ve got feedback from students and other pros nationwide.
RRX: When does the app come out?
JM: We’ve got a pre-release coming out in mid-August, and have a great group of VIP singers who are going to try the app out for the first month. The public release will be in mid-September. We’d love for people to visit our websites: www.peakmusicstudios.com and www.mysingingcoach.com. We’ll be at RiverExpo, too, so stop by our table to get the great discount we’re offering to Capital District singers. RadioRadioX does great work for the Capital District thanks for your interest in us and your support, Art!