JamsBio is a new site with a cool idea — users pick from the millions of tracks in its database (actually, excerpts from the songs) and develop a timeline of their lives. The timelines contain the song and written comments you make about them.
This would be a great site to use for English Language Learners. Their tracks include just about every song I’ve used in class, and, in addition to timelines, students could just pick their favorites and explain why they like them. Collections can be embedded or just connected by a link.
The big problem for classroom use, though, is that, even with just containing excerpts, you can find lyrics inappropriate for classroom use. That wouldn’t really be an issue for my ESL classes — they’d have to search real hard to find them, even if they wanted to (which the vast majority aren’t going to do, anyway).
However, it is a risk, and it is not beyond imagining that a risk like this could prompt over-reactions that could limit access to a lot of other good sites.
I like the idea, and it could be a unique and creative project. As an EFL teacher, I have a different concern. The songs are familiar because I grew up with them, heard them on the radio, TV, and in movies, and so on. I can identify different songs with different periods in my life. But for non-native speakers with different cultural backgrounds, they grew up with different music. English-language songs might not be as familiar.
I think the idea can easily be adapted. Students select an important event from their lives, and find an appropriate song on the site. They then give a short presentation about the event and the reason for selecting the accompanying music. As they are focused on only one event, they have a more narrowly-defined goal in which to search through lyrics.
Alternatively, they could choose a song from their native country, and do the same activity. But they then would give additional background about the song selected.
Thanks for the site, Larry.