Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Composing in Band Using Garageband

Today in band we did an assignment that all students enjoy.  I have a 14 member high school band.  Most of these kids play at Level 1-2.

We have spent the last few weeks starting our major scale cycle.  Each kid should be able to cycle do-sol in G, C, F, Bb major at this point.  We spend about 30-40 minutes of an 87 minute period on ear training and scales.  Their homework was to cycle Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star through those four keys.

After listening to the homework I model opening Garageband and recording a drum track, bass track, and keyboard track.  I use Smart instrument settings and autoplay.  I stress we will use Bb chords.  Garageband defaults to an 8 measure composition.  I spend maybe five minutes on this demonstration.

I ask them to compose a four track composition with an melody on top of them playing in Concert Bb.  I give them 30 minutes.

Most spend too much time on the drum track.  Almost all got four tracks in the correct key and something recorded.  I then played each track for the class to evaluate.

When done they realize that:

  1. It really doesn't matter what the drum track is.
  2. It really matters if you play with bad tone or rhythm.
  3. It really matters if you play a wrong note.
  4. Students who created a "melody" had a hit on their hands.
This lesson really works.