Open Your Ears
The Current

It’s no secret that I love The Current, one of Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)’s flagship stations. I wrote something of a love-letter blog post in support of their fund-raising drive last year, and I’m a proud supporter of the station – despite living across the other side of the world!

One reason The Current so quickly won my heart is the 9:30 Coffee Break which, as it turns out, is a perfect source of inspiration and listening examples for our Open Your Ears series!

So what’s the Coffee Break?

The 9:30 Coffee Break is a day time feature on The Current (which you can stream live at where Steve Seel and Jill Riley take a musical theme or question, invite suggestions of songs from the audience, and then play their top picks.

While some are based on music trivia, cultural connections (or more random subjects) rather than the music itself, a large proportion of the shows do revolve around sound, instruments, genres, and compositional quirks… making it an ideal source of material to broaden your music appreciation.

Dig into the archives

There are countless past coffee break requests on Unfortunately you can’t listen back to previous segments directly, but a quick look at the page and you can throw together a playlist of your own to suit the theme.

Here are a few you might try:

Check out the songs played if they’re listed, but don’t overlook the comments beneath the blog post which provide even more ideas and recommendations.

Treat it as an ear training exercise! Okay, it’s not hardcore interval practice, but if you’re looking for ear training song examples to improve your timbre aural skills or instrument recognition, or a way to do fun ear training online, give it a try.

Give your ears the aural equivalent of a dose of caffeine

Listen live

Even better, get into the habit of tuning in live, for a daily dose of new music.

Some days the theme will help improve your musical awareness, other days it will just entertain, but you won’t regret taking the time to listen and give your ears the aural equivalent of a dose of caffeine!

For me, the “9:30 coffee break” is actually more of a “mid-afternoon Yogi Tea break”, but it always provides some sparky new music appreciation material for my ears to enjoy.

And if you end up hanging around after to listen to more of The Current…

Well, that’s not a bad outcome either.

Listen live and for free at and if you discover some new musical ideas from The 9:30 Coffee Break be sure to send them a thank you comment or email.
And then come back here to and leave a note below about what you found!