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I see right there in my documentation of the code at http://mpflaga.github.io/Sparkfun-MP3-Player-Shield-Arduino-Library/class_s_f_e_m_p3_shield.html#aed2dc5833ab0fa71c2994cf89e598f35

get current measured VU Meter

Returns the calculated peak sample values from both channels in 3 dB increaments through. Where the high byte represent the left channel, and the low bytes the right channel.

Values from 0 to 31 are valid for both channels.

Warning :This feature is only available with patches that support VU meter.

So I suspect that there are two issues. 1) need the patches and 2) use getVUlevel.

Hope that helps.