Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Slow Tunes - Review


Bottom line: A unique app that slows down songs in the iTunes library. Great for kids with special needs, speech-language pathologists, music therapists, budding musicians and anyone who really wants to master that fast part of the song the kids know but no parent can understand. 

If you would like to download SlowTunes ($1.99, iPhone/iPad 2x), please use this link so they'll know who sent you:

What I love most about SlowTunes is the story of its inception — a parent wanted to help his child with St2childhood apraxia of speech be able to sing along to popular tunes. However, one of the hallmarks of CAS is difficulty with rapid production of speech, and even people without a motor speech disorder often struggle to make sense of and keep up with popular songs.
So, unable to find anything to meet his daughter’s needs, father-turned-app developer Brian Stokes made this great app. It simply takes music on your iPhone or iPad, and allows it to be played at a slower rate — without changing or distorting the pitch! No crazy stretched out sounding songs here. The song sounds the same, just slower.
The songs are easy enough to add to the app. It automatically detects the songs that are downloaded to the device, and presents a list. The user can select which songs to add to the app by tapping them. After adding the desired songs, they are easily played through SlowTunes. Songs can also easily be deleted fromSlowTunes
Before playing, the user can set up the desired speed for Slower and Slowest, the two options, from 100 percent (regular speed) down to 50 percent, in five-percent increments. For testing, I set Slower to 75 percent and Slowest to 50 percent. I noticed that on some songs, 50 percent was perfect to hear every word, while on others it seemed a little too slow. So the ability to change that in the settings was wonderful.
St3Also, within a song the three speeds (slowest, slower, and normal) can be accessed at all times. This was a great option to be able to choose the perfect speed on an individual song. However, there was one feature lacking that I really missed — there is no ability to fast forward or rewind. If someone wants to practice a particular section, the entire song must be started over again.
I do hope this will be changed in future versions. However, even with that missing piece, this is still a very solid app with some great practical uses. When I had a guitar, I always wanted to play along to songs, but I wasn’t good enough to keep up! SlowTunes allows a song to be slowed down to just the right speed for beginning musicians. It could also have uses for those who are using recordings to learn a foreign language. Can't quite get the pronunciation of every word in a conversation? Slow it down until you can grasp all the details.
SlowTunes has very practical uses in music therapy, and speech-language pathologists will likely find it useful as well. And music teachers — it may revolutionize the way kids prepare for concerts! Teach the new songs slowly, then speed up as words and music are mastered. 
SlowTunes will not be able to play every song on iTunes. Some are protected by digital rights St4management (DRM). However, most of the songs I tried did work.  On the iTunes description for SlowTunes, it says that most current songs will work, and songs with DRM can be converted. I haven’t yet tried to convert a song, however, to be able to say if this is true. As far as I could tell, there is no way to tell on iTunes if a song has DRM before buying it.
If the app had the ability to rewind and fast forward a song, it would have been a Top Pick. Without that, it’s still an app I highly recommend. It’s just what is needed for kids with difficulties, and the many other ways to use it make it an app well worth the price. 

ProfHeather H. is glad that her daughter can now sing more than just "that's what makes you beautiful!" over and over and over. 

Originally posted on Smart Apps for Kids.

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