Have you ever dreamed of playing the guitar or the violin? Or wished to have a recording studio at home? The application GarageBand offers you just that. It is like having your own orchestra at hand directly from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. It is the most popular application that you can have to create songs with the touch of your finger according to Jason Parker from CNET Magazine. He also mentioned that it is an application which offers real-world instruments with real genuine sounds. It contains easy to use tools and no other application is similar to this in its category. If you own a Macintosh computer, the application comes in free. But, you need to pay to have it on your iPad. With all that it offers, the iPad application can be purchased for the cheap price of $5.79.

Guitar, bass, drums, violins, piano and their counterparts are all instruments that can be played on this tool.  Moreover, the application lets you do things that would be impossible to do on a real instrument. You can even make your own ringtone. The Smart instruments in the application give you the possibility to sound like a real professional musician. Even if you have never touched an instrument in your life, it will make you look brilliant. As a musician, you will find interesting stuff to work with. Even more, it can help you improve and experiment different things. This is one reason among others why I decided to upload it to my iPad.  Furthermore, you can plug in a guitar or a bass and play through classic amplifiers and the stompbox effects. As a bass player, I can have my own drum player accompanying me while I’m practicing. There are more than 250 loops to play with too. In addition, you can record your voice by using the microphone and apply fun sounds. It is possible to record up to 32 tracks and the depth of the sound is just amazing if you use a good set of speakers as said by David A. Cox, who is just sold to this application. His tutorial is one of the best I found, it’s easy to follow and interesting. Take time to watch it and I am sure that GarageBand will be a good reason to convince you to purchase an iPad for your kids. But between you and me, this is cool stuff for adults too, just to restate what Mr. Cox said. I will not go in details about how to use the application because it is nicely done in the following video.

Creating and recording songs are also other things you can do with this application. If you don’t like something about what you recorded, no problem. Individual notes can be moved around. The way to do it is simple, you just need to drag the part you want and drop it to the right spot in the track. In addition, you can delete or change note lengths by shortening them. That can be done for each instrument you have recorded. There is also a feature called the jam session. Each person from your group of three friends can play an instrument and one person is referred to the band leader. He will end up by recording everything. Once your song is recorded, you can share it by using email, Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, or AirDrop for iOS.

As for a learning approach Common Sense wrote: « Impressive digital audio workstation lets kids explore multi-track recording, composition, and sound design. Pre-recorded grooves and versatile tools empower them for mobile music creation and sharing. »  GarageBand also has an outstanding in-app support to guide children through features. There are 34 languages offered which is a plus for English language learners. In addition, the application contains a glossary that explains musical and audio recording terminology.

Of course this application would be more useful to a teacher who teaches music in elementary (cycle two and three since students are older) or secondary school students but, Jill Hare from Teaching Community mentioned that younger students love to record and hear their voices as much as older students.  As an ESL teacher I can think of some possibilities to use this tool. Although, this is not an application that would be used all year long, it is a great way to have students explore the field of music.They can gain understanding of different musical genres and cultures. GarageBand is a great way for students to share their thoughts and feelings. A collaboration with the school music teacher could be envisioned for special projects. What I have in mind is to develop children’s creativity by writing songs and adding music to their lyrics. Who knows, maybe there is a future Billy Joel in the class. They could also write a poem and arrange a melody as background and then present it in front of the class. Another thing is that sometimes teachers are looking for ideas and projects to fundraise a students’ school trip. Though it might seem a little elaborate, I think it could be feasible to have students compose tunes. The best songs could be compiled and then recorded and sold. This kind of project would need a lot of organisation and roles should be attributed to students to give them important responsibilities. The class could vote for the best student suited for the role of project manager or producer. Some students could work on marketing. Others could be designers or editors, etc. A project like this provides opportunities for students to learn about their peers and work together to develop a spirit of openness and respect. Another idea for class activities is to do a thematic unit on music. Group of students could start by researching different instruments and agree on a specific instrument they would like to work on. Finding who the inventor of the instrument is and where it comes from is a good start. Perhaps, the students could search for someone who is renowned to play that instrument and what type of music is played with it. Why not have the students also draw a poster and write down the main things they discovered about it and to finish it all, record a tune from the iPad with the instrument they chose. At the end of the project, students would be proud to present the whole thing to their class. All these suggestions are ways to improve students’ creativity. Writing, reading, listening and oral comminication are all aspects involved in the projects that I mentioned which are requirements from the MELS program in Québec. Children have a lot of imagination and they can surprise us with their unusual ways of doing things. Furthermore, by exploring the world of music, students’ knowledge would be enhanced and surely music will bring diversity and sunshine in their world.


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