Using iPads for music – GarageBand

GarageBand logo over iPad

iPads make fantastic digital musical instruments, and we use them a lot in OrchLab sessions thanks to their adaptability and accessibility. In this guide we’ll show you GarageBand, one of the music apps that we use. There is another guide available for ThumbJam, another music app which you can explore.

GarageBand is an app already installed on the majority of iPads and has many helpful features that you can use to make music. We will go through some of the ones that we find to be most useful in OrchLab or general music-making sessions.

Getting started

  • You will need a charged iPad, that has the GarageBand app
  • You may also want to use an external speaker to enhance the sound from the iPad

Choosing an instrument in GarageBand

  1. Open GarageBand
  2. Select the instrument family you would like to use from the rotating display. For the purposes of this tutorial we will be using the ‘keyboard’ setting, but there are lots of other instrument families to choose from!
  3. When the keyboard setting is chosen you can select the type of keyboard you wish to use. To do so, tap the image of the keyboard in the middle (see below).
GarageBand Instructions Step 1
  1. The following options bar will appear. Select your choice of keyboard.
GarageBand Instructions Step 2

Setting up chords on GarageBand

Now that you know how to select your instrument you are ready to set up chords, rather than individual notes on the keyboard. Drake Music have put together a video for you to follow, but you can also find written instructions below.

Press the furthest button on the right just above the piano keys (see below – icon is similar to a power bar or battery).

GarageBand Instructions Step 3

By pressing this button, the screen will change from the screen that has a keyboard on it, to the one below. This will allow you to play chords rather than individual notes.

GarageBand Instructions Step 4

Setting the key for the chords

Now you’ve learnt how to find the chord setting, you can change the chords that appear by changing the key. You might want to choose a specific key, because that’s what a song you want to sing is in, or you might want to use specific chords as a basis for group composition. Often, resources on the OrchLab website will tell you which chords to select for an activity.

  1. Click the spanner in the top right corner (circled in yellow below) and go down to ‘Edit Chords’ on the menu that appears.
GarageBand Instructions Step 5

2. Click on the ‘chord bar’ that you would like to change. This will then highlight the chord in light blue. You can see in our example below F7 is highlighted. Then, use the rolling menu, to select the chord you’d like to use instead. Once you have made your decision on each chord, click ‘Done’ in the top right hand corner. If you don’t want to select a chord for every ‘bar’, you can select ‘none’ in the rolling menu, and the ‘bar’ will disappear. This can be useful if you want space around each ‘bar’ which could be more accessible for some players.

GarageBand Instructions Step 6

Explore more:

Using iPads for Music – ThumbJam
Play and Sing – Lovely Day

This resource was written by Dav Shiel, Drake Music