I love GarageBand, the students love GarageBand, we love GarageBand!
Garageband part of the Apple iLife suite of software, (GB) is an incredible teaching and learning tool. We have been using GB at North Fitzroy Primary School now for the past 3 years and I have seen the student compositional skills grow from creating simple soundscapes to full podcasts shows containing multiple compositions. Kynan and I have used GB to record all our student compositions and performances enabling us to collect a large body of student work (see student composition page). Now GB pervades throughout all curriculum areas and levels and is regularly used to record poetry to creating times tables maths songs.
Below are some examples of grade 2 compositions where they had to create a ‘funky’ song. However, a constant issue that arises with student composition in Garageband is that they want to use as many instruments as they can and without much thought as to where to put them. The result although fun for them, is a wall of sound that is not so pleasing to the ear.
After listening to and analysing some James Brown tracks. We discussed what makes up a typical funk ensemble. The students were restricted to 4 to 5 instruments. 1 Drum/beat (The bread of the sandwich), Bass (Butter), Melodic instrument (the flavour), 1 percussion instrument (salt and pepper). We then discussed how to make a sandwich and how its a step by step process, introducing each part of the sandwich one at a time. The same is for a lot of music where the composer sometimes introduces each instrument one at a time thus avoiding the ‘Wall of Sound’ approach.
Once the students had created their simple funk composition they were then shown how to record their voice and then cut and paste snippet’s and then apply affects. The overall effect was impressive with one student secretly recording my voice and then overlaying it in her song. Some students even discovered how to manipulate the tempo and used this device to great effect.