Objective: At the conclusion of this lesson, students should have a good grasp of the of GarageBand's software instruments, be able to audition instrument sounds (“patches”) in GarageBand, and be able to demonstrate a sound they find appealing - perhaps even in a creative way (i.e. idiomatic example, rhythmic and/or tonal improvisation alone or with a partner).

Materials/Equipment: GarageBand running on a Mac OSX computer with amplification, and a synth keyboard - or the "Musical Typing" on the computer’s QWERTY keyboard.

1. Discuss as a class the concept of TIMBRE in music.
2. The video below demonstrates how to audition "virtual instruments" (also called software instruments) in GarageBand. You'll need to set up a blank track to do this. TO SET UP A BLANK TRACK, either choose "New Track" from the TRACK Menu, or click on the "+" (plus sign) icon. A window pops open asking WHAT KIND OF TRACK you'd like to create. Choose "SOFTWARE INSTRUMENT."

CLICK HERE for the video, "Choosing & Using Virtual Instruments in GarageBand" (or click play on the video below).

3. The teacher will demonstrate the sound of several patches. Discuss: See if students can guess various sounds. Which sound would be good in various musical settings (genre, style periods, etc.)? Which sounds have the best quality? What makes some sounds more effective?
4. Students will then have time to explore the sounds using the FAVORITE SOUNDS WORKSHEET, which must be completed.
5. Improvisation/Performance: Each student should prepare a brief demonstration of a favorite patch to play for the rest of the class. This could be an excerpt from a piano piece the student knows, a short melody, a two- or three-pitch groove, a 2- or 4-measure rhythmic pattern, or just a single note if necessary.
6. Students should record their brief demonstration example for playback. Remember to rewind before recording; press the RECORD button; and set the metronome on or off as desired.
7. OPTIONAL: If possible, pair students to explore and/or share their findings. Also consider having pairs improvise their demonstration of a favorite patch together, collaboratively.

Evaluation: Students will be awarded points based on their completion of the FAVORITE SOUNDS WORKSHEET.

  1. Create a new Software Instrument track and choose a DRUM KIT.
  2. Experiment with what sounds are produced by pressing various keys on your keyboard controller.
  3. Consult with this MIDI Drum Kit Map.
  4. Can you create/perform a basic rock beat with several drum sounds simultaneously?