Open Pandora’s Box: Create your own Radio Station

How Pandora was Created

pandora_music_boxThe Music Genome Project, founded in 2000 by Tim Westergren, has analyzed the musical attributes or “genes” of  many thousands of songs by musicians of all genres. This “genetic” analysis, performed by musicians and music technologists, includes such structural elements as melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangements, lyrics, and more. This fascinating, if bizarre, project has led to Pandora, Internet Radio: the largest online music streaming service. Now you can open Pandora’s box by setting up your own personal “radio station” which plays your favorite music, based on the musicians and composers you like intermingled with music of similar ”genetics.” I set up my own Franz Schubert station, which provides not only Shubertian delights but unexpected gems from John Field, Clara Schumann, Chopin, Fanny Mendelssohn and others. I enjoy the streaming music of my own station, but can add options, vary it, save it, share it, or create new stations according to my mood.  How fun is that!

Listen to my Franz Schubert station now.

Pandora as a Music Listening Tool in the Classroom

To encourage music students to expand their listening experiences, have them set up and name their own Pandora “radio stations,” either individually or in small groups. They can then share their stations and favorite musical discoveries with their classmates, and discuss similarities and differences of the music. Shared music is a great bonding experience with kids. By sharing their personal favorites with those of fellow classmates, everybody wins, because their musical tastes will expand along with their listening experiences. And there’s nothing like the pride of ownership: having your own radio station, where you are the DJ in charge.

Special noteIt’s a noisy, Muzak-infested world, and kids have had to become passive listeners to protect themselves from the onslaught of noise that surrounds them much of the time. Encourage students to take charge of their own sound environment whenever they can. Remind them to listen actively when they turn on their Pandora station for music of their choice. And, very important, tell them to turn it off to enjoy periods of silence or when they are busy with other activities, because music should not be like wallpaper or background noise. Music is like a conversation with an invited guest. When Mozart talks, we should all listen (to paraphrase the old E. F. Hutton ad). We may think we are “multi-tasking” but that is another myth for another blog. . .

Tell me what your students think, and share some of their own “stations” so we can let others know about them on this blog.

Happy listening!

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