All you need are the Smart Drums

I was running an iPad workshop last week and it occurred to me that the Dice “randomiser” function in the Smart Drums could make a good listening exercise tool for students. And why not turn it into a game?

The Smart Drums instrument in GarageBand allows you to drag different drum sounds on to a grid to create a rhythmic pattern. However, if you’re feeling lazy or stuck for inspiration, you can use the Dice button in the bottom left corner to have GarageBand randomly pick a rhythmic pattern for you. Tap the Dice again and the pattern will change instantly.

Musical Freeze

Using this function, you could play a variation on the Musical Freeze game I played as a kid:

1. Open GarageBand and select Smart Drums

2. Choose a drum kit by tapping on the Hip Hop drum icon and selecting a drum kit from the menu

3. Tap the Dice

4. Students can start dancing/moving to the rhythmic pattern

5. Making sure your iPad screen is not visible to the students, tap the Dice again so that the pattern changes

6. Students need to listen for the change in the rhythmic pattern and freeze until the pattern changes again

7. Tap the Dice so that the rhythm changes again and the students can resume moving/dancing


If you like, you can add an competitive element to the game:

– the last person to freeze is out

– anyone that moves while they’re supposed to be frozen is out

– the last student left in the game is the winner

Game Variations

In fact, you can use the same game in a number of ways. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Musical Freeze – as above. Students freeze when the pattern changes

2. Musical Bobs – students bob down on the floor when the pattern changes

3. Strike a Pose – students form an unusual or humorous pose when the pattern changes (award points for originality!)

4. Make a Group – when the rhythm changes, students form a group of a specified number (groups of 2, 3, 4 etc)

5. Speedy Clean Up – students pick up an object in the classroom and put it away before the rhythm changes

6. Rhythm Switcher – teach the students two simple rhythms that they can play using body percussion. Use two different types of body percussion such as clapping and tapping the chest and practice playing them as a group in time to the Smart Drums groove. Each time the Smart Drums rhythm changes, they need to switch the rhythm they’re playing.

Two Tips

1. If you need the rhythm to play slower (or faster!), you can alter the tempo: tap the Wrench icon and then tap Tempo to make your adjustments

2. The iPad speaker will not be loud enough on it’s own, so make sure you plug into some speakers (use the headphone port) or use a bluetooth speaker to connect wirelessly

Other suggestions?

Do you have any other game suggestions?

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