From the very beginning of their classroom music programme (prep) we teach them ways to express themselves as composers so by the time they are in grade six they are very comfortable with it.
In term one we this year we had all of the grade 6 students in the mac lab working with Garageband. Garageband while not being the most powerful music programme is a great entry point for a lot of children. Much like IMovie in that it gives them some basic understanding of editing. In term one we would get the kids to compose using the preexisting loops, a quick and fun way to create instant music. However to get a deeper sense of personal ownership over your compositions there is a number of simple things you can do
1. Change the tempo of the track (its automatically set to 120 bpm and if you don’t teach this skill you are missing a vital ingredient in composition – tempo) The tempo track is set in the window at the bottom of the project.
2. choose a new track and make it a software track and then
3. choose the instrument you want to use
4. after practicing, press record and play in the sounds you want.
Midi editing can be done in the track editing window (see the picture above)- where the squares can be literally dragged or stretched to any key or duration.
1. a bass-line
2. a melody line
3. an accompaniment part
4. a percussion part
5. an A and B Section
No other parts were allowed and at least one of those parts had to be composed using the midi keyboard. Not surprisingly most groups used the keyboard to compose more than one of their parts including some who wrote the drums parts as well.
If you do alot of wok in Garageband and don’t start applying these ideas sooner or later you will notice that the kids tunes all start sounding the same, this is because they are limited to a restrictive number of rhythm and melodic choices (the premade loops) Once you have taught this very simple skill the range of compositional pieces you will hear back suddenly becomes huge and so much more satisfying from a listeners perspective but also from the students perspective. It has become personalized.
Sounds great, Garage Band is a powerful tool to use with students due to it’s simplicity, I have taught classes Garage Band as an Extended Learning Objective and they loved it. I would also add that students can get a lot out of recording their own voice over their composition, this can be done by using the inbuilt microphone. Once they have recorded their voice they can add effects such as chorus and reverb.