I use Pandora a fair amount. Pandora uses algorithms to create your own personal stations. You can have a Pat Methany station, or a Trombone station. The computer will find music and play it. Occasionally you click "I like it" and the algoritihm improves.
Now, you can't go back and play a specific song. This is a huge disadvantage. Also, as the algorithm improves I am sure there are less surprises. If you like diversity in your listening (ala college or nonprofit radio) this can be challenging.
The article in todays NYTimes about Pandora raises interesting questions about how we teach listening skills. Do you like artists or minor chords? Do you like jazz or just acoustic music? Do you like one chord tunes or complex harmony? How do you know you like it?
Should we use Pandora in class? Should we evaluate student choices? Could we use this as a tool?
I have been spending a lot of time working on curriculum lately. There is not a well established curriculum here and it is sorely needed. We need scope and sequence. We need standard assessments. We need benchmarks to measure our success.
I believe community based decisions are central to any curriculum. What do you believe a high school graduate should be able to do? I have several ideas and would love to hear from you.
A high school graduate should be able to:
Sing in tune. When the birthday cake comes out the singing should sound good.
Have a coherent conversation about music. They should be able to go to a symphony concert and talk to the doctors, lawyers, and politicians about what they heard.
Sing songs to their children when they are born.
Choose appropriate music for weddings/funerals/etc...
Dance effectively. Understand the connection between dance and music.
Have fun. Stop worrying - get up and sing.
If this happens then I think the more music teacher specific language takes care of itself. Could we set up a curriculum that meets these goals?