5 Ways GarageBand Can Be Used in the Music Classroom
After its initial release in 2004, Apple’s built in music platform GarageBand quickly became a valuable tool for both professional musicians and new-found beginners. Shortly after, GarageBand also found success within the music classroom as teachers used the platform for everything from encouraging students to write their own music or simply experimenting and collaborating with peers. Teachers new to GarageBand may be overwhelmed with the platforms and the options it provides, but don’t worry – we can help! Below, we’ll provide a brief overview of the platform and highlight 5 ways that GarageBand can be used in the music classroom.
GarageBand: A Brief Overview
Within GarageBand, there are a number of offerings that students and teachers may choose from, including building a song from scratch, creating a ring tone, music lessons and building hip hop beats. Students and teachers can also make use of audio recording capabilities, virtual software instruments (which can be used by a MIDI or laptop keyboard), built-in metronomes, guitar features with a number of amps and effects and editing tools. As one may imagine, the options provided by these applications are virtually endless, so don’t feel limited to the suggestions below!
Learning How to Build a Song
One of the essential benefits of GarageBand is that it provides students with the ability to build a song from scratch. In fact, students don’t even need a band as they can play and record all of the instruments by themselves thanks to the virtual software instruments built into GarageBand. To keep things organized, music teachers may have students create their own songs within the same class-wide structure, perhaps something like a verse of 8 measures and chorus of 4 measures. Outside of keeping a similar structure, feel free to encourage students to explore a number of different instruments, melodies and effects!
Outside of constructing a song, GarageBand can also be a great tool for experimenting with instruments and musical components. For example, with GarageBand, students can experiment with a number of instruments that they may otherwise not have access to, such as electronic synthesizers (many of which have countless hidden instruments and noises), arpeggiator and orchestral instrumentation. As if these instruments were not enough, students can also experiment with the sonic elements (such as sustain, attack and delay) of each and every instrument. Outside of instruments, there are a number of effect boxes and loops that can be explored, as well as production elements like reverb and delay. Literally, if it’s not clear already, GarageBand is a music experimenters dream!
Identify Music Components
GarageBand can also be used to bring music theory to life by identifying and studying music components, such as harmony, sound and rhythm. If using GarageBand for this method, it’s best to first introduce music components outside of the platform so that students have a solid understanding of what elements they will be identifying while constructing songs and sounds. Afterwards, GarageBand can then be used in a number of ways for identifying music components, including:
- Having students explain the sonic difference between a Saxophone and piano
- Identify the rhythm within built-in loops
- Practice building harmonies
- Examining what reverb does to an instrument’s sound quality
Understanding of Tempo
Thanks to GarageBand’s built-in microphone, students can also develop and expand their understanding of tempo. For beginners, a metronome may be great for working on keeping a consistent beat throughout a riff or song. The more advanced musicians may enjoy constructing a song that features a number of intricate tempos or even rearranging a song to fit a tempo that is much slower or faster. Analyzing tempos in this fashion can help students understand the influence that tempo has on a song’s sonic elements, as well as our own interpretation of a piece of music.
Whether jamming live or recording riffs over last week’s drum session, GarageBand has all that is needed for a great collaborative experience in the music classroom. Here are a few different ideas:
- Develop a class-wide song where each student contributes a different piece
- Break students into groups of 4, with each student responsible for a different instrument
- Have students record a riff or song, then move to a different computer and repeat the process (you should end with each computer having its own unique song by the end)
- Break students into groups and have each group work on one of GarageBand’s built-in music lessons
If you’re new to GarageBand, feel free to use some or all of these tips to help get comfortable with the platform. Also, with all of the tools within GarageBand, there are literally hundreds of ways to use in it the classroom, so don’t be afraid to develop some of your own methods!
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