Teaching a class for Garageband - suggestions needed

burntfrijoles

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Background: The local university has a continuing education division that includes an program for folks over 50. I already teach classes on the iPhone, iPad and Mac. This fall I will be offering a new class "GarageBand for Beginners". The class will primarily focus on iOS GarageBand because more folks have iPads than Macs. The class will be 4 sessions of 90 minutes.

Below is my preliminary outline for the class content. Please feel free to offer suggestions for inclusion. Remember, this is geared to beginners.

Intro: Description of Garageband, multitrack recording and demo of a completed song.
Overview with brief introduction explanation/demo
1. You don't have to be a multi-instrumentalist. There are virtual instruments with pre-programmed style patterns. Demo
2. You can record audio with the internal microphone or use an audio interface. Explain what an audio interface is and demo.
3. For keyboards you can use a virtual instrument or a USB keyboard controller, etc. demo.
4. For drums: "Drummer", Virtual drums (playing on virtual kit) or "Beat Sequencer", record live acoustic drums Demo
5. Guitar: virtual guitar instrument vs actual guitar with interface
6. Explanation of "regions" vs tracks.

Demo of creation of 8 measure section: People Get Ready (all virtual instruments: Drummer, Organ, Bass, Acoustic Guitar)
Project Creation
1. Determine the length in measure of the song, including a count-in. Demonstrate Setting
2. Determine the tempo and demonstrate setting
3. Determine Key and demonstrate setting
4. Time Signature and demonstrate setting
5. Enable Metronome
6. Create a guide track with chord progression
7. Demonstrate Drummer to find a compatible pattern
8. Proceed with adding tracks using a combination of virtual instruments and audio interface with guitar and vocals.
9. Set mix levels of each track and add EQ, reverb, delay.

I have several demo songs to illustrate: a simple Am progression of drums, keyboard, bass, guitar plus two covers: Who'll Stop the Rain and Face in the Crowd. These were chosen because they are simple and I could use the programmed patterns in the virtual instruments.

I have no idea if enough old geezers will be interested to sign up but I was asked to offer another class. The coordinator told me that I may be surprised at how many wannabe rockers/songwriters may be out there.

Let me know your suggestions. I'm sure I've overlooked something.
 

AAT65

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Loops! Garageband has always had a great library of loops... drum patterns, fills, girls going "oooohh", piano glisses...

I'd probably start by building a multitrack section from loops, then add virtual instruments, then add recording real instruments.
 

clayville

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Dunno how you'd get it done in 4 sessions, but to me these are the topics that help newbies get results they're happier with:
Exploring presets; Gain staging, Parametric EQ; automation of various parameters; mic placement/capture, punching in, fixing flubs/minimizing mistakes, mixing left to right/front to back/top to bottom, "Mastering" tricks like throwing a multi-band compressor on the Master Track...
 
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burntfrijoles

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Exploring presets; Gain staging, Parametric EQ; automation of various parameters; mic placement/capture, punching in, fixing flubs/minimizing mistakes, mixing left to right/front to back/top to bottom, "Mastering" tricks like throwing a multi-band compressor on the Master Track...
To me those are “advanced” topics. Plus, iPad GarageBand doesn't have some of those features. However, I will add how to fix mistakes, etc and how to mix down and master.

As I mentioned I’m used to organizing and teaching similar classes and I know the audience. I may run out of time but I try not to get too deep in the weeds for these courses. It’s an introductory class to open the doors. Plus I will give them links to YouTube tutorials.
 

teletail

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I would assume the goal for the students is to record their original songs. I would focus on the tasks required to do that. By the end of the class they should be able to record a song; all of the advanced things should come at the end, as time allows.
 

markal

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Very cool. I’m assuming you will get some interest. Only minor thing I would add is the ability to use a better microphone without having to use a recording interface. For quick demos or stuff for Instagram I sometimes use a Shure MV88 plugged into my iPad.
 

grandstick

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Live Loops are another great tool I use when teaching GB for iOS and iPadOS. You can start a project with Live Loops, then switch over to Tracks to continue building on the Loops tracks.
 

burntfrijoles

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Very cool. I’m assuming you will get some interest. Only minor thing I would add is the ability to use a better microphone without having to use a recording interface. For quick demos or stuff for Instagram I sometimes use a Shure MV88 plugged into my iPad.
Yes, thank you. In addition to interfaces, I need to discuss the option of using a USB, TRRS or Lightning mic and different price points.
Live Loops are another great tool I use when teaching GB for iOS and iPadOS. You can start a project with Live Loops, then switch over to Tracks to continue building on the Loops tracks.
As I mentioned I have not used Loops much but I will check some out and see how comfortable I am at teaching about them. I can always show them a YouTube video to introduce the concept.

I’m more used to using drummer and playing a guide track on my guitar then layering in bass, keyboards, etc. Again, it’s an introduction. My expectations and goals are modest. I hope to point them in the right direction to start their “journey”.
 

tintag27

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This is a really commendable project. People are staying healthier and more active as they get older. and given a guiding hand to get going on GarageBand can easily accomplish work they can be proud of. GB is probably the easiest DAW to get into and the quickest to get something approaching music out the other end. I wish you well with your endeavour!
 

grandstick

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Yes, thank you. In addition to interfaces, I need to discuss the option of using a USB, TRRS or Lightning mic and different price points.

As I mentioned I have not used Loops much but I will check some out and see how comfortable I am at teaching about them. I can always show them a YouTube video to introduce the concept.

I’m more used to using drummer and playing a guide track on my guitar then layering in bass, keyboards, etc. Again, it’s an introduction. My expectations and goals are modest. I hope to point them in the right direction to start their “journey”.
There Loops, and then there are the Live Loops. Live Loops works more like you are using Ableton Live.

C052D1BD-44AE-4632-A48C-C24386692B2F.jpeg
 

Ben Harmless

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Hmm. A few thoughts:
- Recording levels (input at the preamp stage) and clipping issues - including clipping the master
- Loudness concepts - because things might not sound as loud as commercial recordings
- Exporting stuff
- How to manage the inevitable drug-fueled highs and lows of navigating a system of unrelenting pressure from a major label that once sounded so enticing, but ultimately consumes one's artistic drive to the point of leaving nothing but an empty husk, playing the same old songs from that first hit record and wishing for skills that would allow you to exit to a day job, but finding that nothing can match the thrill of headlining at arenas, while finding yourself playing smaller and smaller venues until finally the phone stops ringing and you move back in with your family.
- But yeah. Mostly that input levels thing.
 

getbent

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I think I'd focus on the vocal capture. Maybe use just a usb c microphone (like a snowball) and start with capturing a vocal, adding background vocals, establishing a key to the song, then maybe an acoustic guitar. and show them editing to get parts 'right'.

I'd show them how to record not just music, but making a podcast, using sound effects etc.
 

Papanate

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I'd include a section about Cloud Storage - iPads don't have a lot on board - then delve into best interface to use (like 3 that you would recommend) - Whether to use the on board mic or an external mic (along with recommendations on two external mics) - the aside from song parts - song construction within the Garageband Universe.
 

burntfrijoles

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Recording levels (input at the preamp stage) and clipping issues -
Check…
I think I'd focus on the vocal capture. Maybe use just a usb c microphone (like a snowball) and start with capturing a vocal, adding background vocals, establishing a key to the song, then maybe an acoustic guitar.
I will definitely cover vocals. As for the order of tracks I will explain everyone develops their own workflow. I must teach them to select the key for the virtual instruments to display the proper chords in the key.
I'd include a section about Cloud Storage
Check.
Whether to use the on board mic or an external mic
Check…

Some topics will be out of scope for the class. It’s an introduction for beginners so I will keep it simple.
I look at recording from a simple point of view. How do I get my guitar, keyboard, vocal, bass, beat into the recorder? Everyone does it a little different. I either do a throwaway guide track with guitar and vocal with a metronome, then adding drums, etc OR having a basic drum track that I’ve auditioned beforehand and then adding a guide track. There is no right or wrong sequence.

When the participants finish the course, they know a lot more than I did when I first began on a Portastudio 30 years ago.
 

bumnote

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If you still have it on your iPhone...a brief mention of the Apple app MusicMemos would help. I love that app, it takes five seconds to get a record going. Use the phone mic or plug in an input source, record it and you can add autogenerated bass and drum/percussion tracks that have basic tweaks option. When the files are opened using GarageBand, it gets exported as three individual tracks.
 

Peegoo

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That looks like a good syllabus for an intro to GB.

Include a quick demo of SoundCloud/SoundClick/etc., because it makes sharing one's music via the Web super easy.
 

Jupiter

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These are arguably somewhat advanced tricks, but two things I recently learned (as a kinda beginner myself) that make it easier to finish a song:

1. If you create regions (intro verse chorus verse bridge etc) before you add the smart drums, the drummer will adjust and play plausible fills and stuff in the right places.

2. Quantizing non-midi stuff like guitar parts so you don’t have to play 51 takes. (Not sure if the mobile version does that…)
 

doghouseman

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Loops! Garageband has always had a great library of loops... drum patterns, fills, girls going "oooohh", piano glisses...

I'd probably start by building a multitrack section from loops, then add virtual instruments, then add recording real instruments.
Yes, you can get a long way with drum loops - as opposed to programming a drummer in GB.
 

doghouseman

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Also, one thing I use GB for often is changing the key of a song. You can just drag the MP3 of the song into GB and change the key (i forget exactly how but it can be done). This is great for learning songs with other musicians who want to play in a different key (like singers)
 




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