After thinking about it for a while, a power spectrum analyzer would be cooler.
There is a free download, "Visual Analyzer 8" spectrum analyzer which shows the harmonic distribution of a tone, I have used it to look at the response of various trumpets and mouthpieces, it is a good comparative tool but I would be doubtfull as to its use as a practice aid, rely on the ears as that is what you have to use in the real world.
So .... you can use a meter or a violist, either one will work. The meter will be quieter.
Yes, use your ears.
That said, I have beat up my chops a bit playing in a dead room and not accounting for the fact that I was really putting out some sound. A db meter can give reassurance that some real sound is actually coming out in a dead room. Not really a needed tool though. Want to buy mine? (that gives away how much one really needs one doesn't it)
All the best,
measure sound levels
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