"Garage Band" for Music Classes K-12 Sections 1, 2, & 3

Section #1     The "Tracks" Side

           “Garage Band” is the ultimate fusion of music with technology.  Students can experience a more “in-depth” study into music and its fundamentals, along with the physics of sound and the basic workings of a modern recording studio.  I am focusing my attention on the highly efficient and effective use of “Garage Band” to teach and enhance improvisation skills, at both the beginning and intermediate levels.  Exploring different methods of notation and using “keyboard maps” that help allow students to “decode” and perform songs in music class.  Finally, to arrange a wide variety of music that can be performed with an i-Pad or Keyboard Ensemble, and then eventually combine i-pads and keyboards into “multi-level” performing ensembles.  Students could seamlessly progress from the beginning level on an i-pad to more advanced levels on the piano.

             All arrangements are written in the original key the artist used.  In that way your students can “play along with the “pros.”.  The keyboard arrangements may require transposition, but that is easily done internally.  At this time you cannot “transpose” the pitch in “Garage Band” (on a traditional black and white keyboard) but if you use the “Light Grey, Dark Grey” keyboards you can set up any key and scale format you wish.  Resource audio files can be purchased on the internet (i-Tunes, Amazon, etc…) for around one dollar each.  In most cases, once you download the audio file(s) onto your computer (A Mac or PC) you can easily interface it with an i-Pad by plugging in the USB part of the re-charging chord.  After the i-pad and computer are linked, the i-Pad will automatically “sync” with the computer it is plugged into.  Through your computers i-Tunes you can locate the apps on your i-Pad and drop and drag audio files directly into “Garage Bands” i-Tunes library. There are ways of transferring audio files from one i-pad to another using i-Cloud, Google Drive, Air Drop, and “Jam Sessions” and those will be covered in the “How To” tutorials section.     

        Many materials on this web site have minimal explanations.  I find that teachers will use whatever they feel best suits their student’s needs.  Many times they will come up with better ideas on ways to use them than the initial way that was intended.  Since “Garage Band” for music education is covering “new ground”, I can see where you might become confused on the “How and Why” about certain materials.  Feel free to contact me and I’ll be glad to share with you my thoughts and suggestions.  If you do decide to try any of these ideas with your students, I would greatly appreciate your feedback.   


richard_moon@charleston.k12.sc.us  or



Richard Moon

Music Teacher

Directly below is a brief outline of the Garage Band curriculum for the "Tracks" side.  Below that will be an introduction and review for Garage Band using the "Find the Icon " game:

Section #1 - Garage Band “Tracks” Curriculum Outline:

                        * Introduction and “Find the Icon” Game.  A “Where’s Waldo” kind of approach to finding a variety of icons in Garage Band by locating their “pictographs”.

Blank “keyboard maps”, the “overlay sheet” teaching aide, and how to make your own “Big Board” for keyboards and i-Pads.

         -   “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” a student’s first experience playing a song in Garage Band.  Applicable for grades Kindergarten and up.

                             *How to locate items on an i-Pad using labeled “screen shots”.

                             *Introduction and how to set up the “grey keyboard” (or alternate piano).

                             *How to use Garage Band’s “keyboard “road maps”.

        -    “Bad to the Bone” /  George Thorgood and the “Destroyers”

                              * Setting up i-Pad’s to use files from Garage Band’s “Loops” audio library.

                              * Review setting up the “grey keyboard”.

                              * Setting up and using “Smart Guitar” in Garage Band.

                              * A very basic introduction to improvisation using a Smart Guitar “street map”.

                              * How to use “keyboard maps” with their counting sheets.

                              *How to alternate bass guitar sequences on a “grey keyboard” in Garage Band.

      -   Recommendation:  The Apple “Garage Band for iOS” Starter’s Guide.  Basis for a lot of research and use of “highlighted” screen shots used in this curriculum.  Especially helpful with younger children.              

      -   “We Will Rock You” / Queen

                              * Students begin to “sight read” using the grey keyboard “Key Sequence Maps”.

                              * Introduction to “multiple part” playing using Garage Band instruments.

                              * Setting up and using “Smart Piano” (with “smart bass”) in Garage Band.

                              * Introduction to the “Keyboard Overlay Sheet”.

                              * How to follow a Smart Keyboard “Key Sequence Map”.

                              * Setting up and using Drum “Kits” and Drum Machines in Garage Band.

      -    “Pachabel Canon”

                              * Developing ensemble and balance concepts in Garage Band.

                              * Review setting up “Smart Piano / Bass” and easy sight reading using that screen.

                              * Setting up and using “Smart Strings” in Garage Band.

                              * Introduction to “leveled” key sequence maps and more advanced keyboard material.


     -    (opt.) Proposed “Performing i-Pad and Keyboard Ensemble” Summer Course Overview. 

* Designed and submitted to the Charleston County School’s “Gifted and Talented” program “SMAART”.

                              * Can easily extract and edit for your own personalized technology curriculum.

     -    “Get Ready For This” / 2 Unlimited

                              * Exploring multiple counting systems, (Ex.) “Rhythm Shapes”, “Thumb Counting” ect…

                              * Introduction to (and use of) a “Counting Time Line”.

                              * Transitioning key sequence maps from “thumb” to “traditional” counting.

                              * Optional “Bucket Percussion Ensemble” parts.

                              * Setting up and using “Smart Bass” in Garage Band.

* Combining multiple Garage Band instruments (covered so far) for music class or performance.

     -    “House of the Rising Sun” / the “Animals” (as performed by “Rage”)

* Integrating a traditional keyboard (electric piano) part reading with i-Pad key    sequence maps.

* Modeling the use of “layered parts” and “ostinatos” to make simple components appear very advanced.

* An opportunity to explore “special effects” available on the keyboard and i-Pad.

* Presentation of full keyboard ensemble score with “Finale Playback” file and recording of a “sketch” version performed by the Goodwin Elementary School’s 4th & 5th Grade Performing Keyboard Ensemble.

* At the bottom is a cumulative keyboard ensemble repertoire list of arrangements for students ranging from Kindergarten to 12th Grade and beyond.  Several of these arrangements have already been adapted for just i-Pads or both.

* i-Pad/keyboard arrangements vrs. “sketches” & independent student project options.

     -    “Cupid Shuffle” / Cupid (an example of an song written as a “sketch”)

                              * Application of a “Smart Bass” sequence map with counting.

                              * Introduction and possible uses for the “paper” i-Pad (classroom management aide).



     -    “Chill Out” / Example of a resource from “Creative Commons”

* Use of “Creative Commons” as a resource for both i-Pad/Keyboard arrangements and improvisation (“jam” session) materials.

* Example of electric keyboards and i-Pads integrated into the same “sketch”.

-    (opt.) An Explanation of the “Transitional Keyboard” concept for teaching keyboards and improvisation to evolving student musicians.

                         * Using “color coded” keyboard maps.

     -    “Hey” or “Rock and Roll Part 2” / Gary Glitter   

                         * Integration of i-Pads and electric keyboards into the same score.

     -    “Zombie Nation” / Kernkraft 400

                         * Developing Technique / “suicides” or “speed drills”

                         * Supplemental material.

     -    “The Way You Make Me Feel” / Michael Jackson

                         * More advanced keyboard mapping and other “leveled” materials.

                         * “Keyboard Overlay Sheet” applications for i-Pads.

                         * Application of “triple meter” in a song.

                         * Using a “sequence script” as applied to a i-Pad and/or keyboard ensemble “sketch”.


 Garage Band Tracks Curriculum Outline2.pdf

The “Find This Icon” Game:

            Remembering what various “icons” mean and where they are located in “Garage Band” can be very challenging for young children.  Playing a game using “flash cards” of these pictographs with alternate, or “nick" names that describe what the icon looks like is almost essential in order to easily communicate their functions and locations with young musicians.  Using these “flash cards” in a competitive “Where’s Waldo” like game in “Garage Band” can be a fun way to introduce children to the app. without overwhelming them.  Following are a series of icon “flash card” I like to use.