Focus On Tech| CBC Radio Gadget and Apps

Is it a cliché that I am an academic and I like to listen to the CBC? Perhaps, but when I am working at my computer answering emails, writing, or trying to get through stacks of exams, I am much happier doing it to the sound of jazz or classical music. For this next instalment of my "Focus on Tech" series, I want to share this free gadget (and in the case of Mac and iPhone users, an app) that provides a quick way to access jazz and classical music, without having to open and browse through your music or iTunes files looking for appropriate studying tunes. And because CBC radio can be listened to internationally, the added bonus for travelers and non-Canadians alike is that you can enjoy CBC programming wherever you happen to be (I have the CBC on my laptop just for this very purpose). For Windows users, the gadget I recommend can be added to the sidebar on your desktop. I have it positioned in the bottom right hand side of my screen (see image below), ready to press play whenever I need a hit of music.

Screen shot of my desktop computer
(yes, that is Muybridge on my background)
The nice added feature is that you can right-click and hit “options” to change to any of the available CBC news stations across Canada in addition to the commercial and commentary free CBC Radio 2 Classical and Jazz stations that I frequently alternate. For Mac, iPhone and iPad users, I have been told the CBC Radio app works in a similar way, which I must admit I have not seen in use, so I welcome any comments or feedback as to its utility.

As some of you may already know, studies suggest that classical music (especially Mozart and baroque music with a 60 beats per minute pattern that stimulates your right and left brain) is optimal for maximizing learning and retaining information for later use. This kind of music is great when you are studying or going over notes from your classes. Jazz, on the other hand, is linked to increased creativity and enhanced self-expression, the perfect music as studies suggest to play when you are writing and outlining papers, blogging (I am playing jazz right now) or having a meeting with a study group. Rapid beat music like techno and some forms of rap and hip-hop can increase your pulse, so studies remain mixed on the benefits. I recommend this type of music for an impromptu break or for those mundane tasks like email and Facebooking. Bottom line, it appears more advantageous to work to the sound of music than to the sound of silence.