Garage Band (or equivalent)
Cheri S., Utah
I’ve seen Laurie mention Garage Band a few times, and there are probably others who use it or similar programs. I’ve looked into the programs a little and can see that they’re very powerful, but I’m a traditionally trained teacher and also a brand new tablet owner. Help me wrap my mind around the possibilities. How do you use a program like this in your studio? What sorts of activities do you do? How exactly do you implement the activities? Since the programs provide the back-up band, do you still use it for accompaniment? Then the melody, like always, comes from singers or another person on the piano? What about improv? How does that work? Can you make it simple enough for beginning students to improv with it?
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I have a lot to learn still with Garage Band, but here are a few things I have done or am currently doing. I use an M-Audio keyboard (only around $100 I believe) that has a usb plug to connect directly to the computer. Garage Band then recognizes the keyboard.
1) Using Score mode, whatever you play on the keyboard is transcribed automatically to sheet music on the screen. This is a fun tool to use for Reading Rhythm. Students play an MOR track on one note on the keyboard. It is transcribed onto the score. We compare it to the MOR from the RR book. Really fun way to practice MORs, and you can set the tempo wherever you want. FYI, it can be frustrating for some, as you have to be very accurate. Great visual tool for RR though.
2) Also, using Score mode, students can transcribe compositions. Again, playing must be extremely accurate and played metronomically (that’s actually a word! just looked it up). You can go back and manually fix mistakes. Students who love to compose could put together a book of their compositions.
3) I have a student who composes beautiful music and lyrics. She recently recorded one using Garage Band. We are taking the project further by adding some fun stuff in Garage Band – extra tracks like percussion, string obligato, bass, etc. I think this is a powerful tool for keeping interest high and helping students discover more benefits of playing piano. And it delves into the creative, self-generative process.
I’m sure there are a million other applications. I plan to learn and discover more.
Sue C., Australia
I understand that one needs a Mac computer to use Garage Band.
Does anyone know of a similar program that can be used with Microsoft Windows computer? If that does not work, is there a small Mac device I could use for Garage Band?
Terah W., Kansas
Where did you get your M-Audio Keyboard? This sounds like a great idea. I think it might be hard not to use up the entire class time with it, tho-Lol!
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
Yes Terah, it’s a lot of fun to play around with!! Mine is an M-audio Keystation 61es – here’s a linkhttp://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Keystation61es.html
Just look around online for the best price, or look at their other keyboards that have USB connections. Have fun!!
Cheri S., Utah
I don’t know if this does exactly what Garage Band does, but here’s one for android tablets that a lot of people seem to like. It looks like a practice and learning tool, from beginning through professional:
For PC, one called Mixcraft seems a bit more focused on music creation, production, and recording, but can also be used for practice.
Gordon Harvey, Australia
Re Sue’s question about Garage Band being Mac only: if you have an iPad, it’s also available on that platform, and is very affordable for a genuine, powerful workstation app. You may need to purchase an adaptor to connect a keyboard or microphone, although it has an on-screen keyboard and you can use the built-in mic. I’ve used it when I’ve had an idea I wanted to quickly put down. I could have then developed the idea right there on the iPad, but, having a Mac, I was also able to export the project to the computer to use with its version of Garage Band or the more powerful Logic Pro X.
I’ve also encountered a fully online workstation program called Soundation <http://soundation.com>. I haven’t used it much but it looks like the real deal. I see there is an interesting free course in sequencing that uses this program, called Play with Your music <http://www.playwithyourmusic.org/about/>.
Mark M., New York
Any MIDI keyboard or controller that you can connect to a Mac should work with GarageBand. M-Audio is a good brand, but I can say from experience that I used to have one of their Keystation controllers (an 88-key model) and I grew to hate how the weighting felt. I got rid of it and subsequently used a Yamaha keyboard, which was fine for a while but I ended up wanting to get rid of it for reasons unrelated to its MIDI functionality. I now have a Casio and it seems to be working for me in all the ways I want it to. The point is that you should decide what you want in a controller or keyboard and then look for that, considering whatever brands/models may be relevant for your needs.