9 Things You Didn’t Know About GarageBand For iPad

9 Things You Didn’t Know About GarageBand For iPad

9 Things You Didn't know about GarageBand for iPad

While preparing for an all-day iPads in the Music Classroom workshop, I ended up reading pretty much all of the GarageBand for iPad manual. Reading manuals is something I quite enjoy (strange, I know) because I always manage to pick up new tips. I thought it might be useful to share some of the less-obvious GarageBand for iPad tricks here.


If you have any other GarageBand tips, please share them in the comments below.


1. Drums #1: play patterns with ease

If you touch and hold two fingers on the bass drum, it will play a repeating patten (the first and third beat in the bar). Move your fingers apart slightly to play crotchets and further apart again to play quavers. It also works on the snare, but the repeating pattern is faster: crotchets, quavers and semiquavers.


2. Drums #2: increase and decrease volume

When playing a repeating pattern with two fingers, slide your finger upwards to make the pattern louder or downwards to make the pattern softer.


3. Strings #1: tips for pizz

When playing pizz chords on the Smart Strings, it’s all about the release. The chord sounds on the release of your finger, not on the tap. Touching different sections of the chord strip allows you to play different inversions of the same chord.


4. Strings #2: all about arco

Stroke your finger up and down the chord strip in the Smart Strings to play sustained chords. Stroking faster will result in a louder chord and stroking slower will give a softer chord.


5. Strings #3: re-voice a chord

You can alter the voicings of chords in the Smart Strings by tapping on the instrument icons at the top of the screen to remove them from the chord.


6. Quick switch: track view to instrument

When in Track View, you can double-tap on instrument icon to go quickly to Instrument View.


7. Instant playback

When in Track View you can double-tap in the ruler at the top of the screen to move the playhead to that position and start playback all in one go.


8. Keyboard: customise and save keyboard sounds

A number of the keyboard instruments allow you to customise their playback sound. You can add reverb, change the attack, add delay and so on. Once you’ve made some changes you can save your settings: tap the instrument icon in the middle of the screen, tap Save and give your custom instrument a name. Tap Done and your new instrument will appear in the Custom tab.


9. Edit guitar chords

When using the Smart Guitar (or any of the other melodic Smart instruments), you can edit the chords that are available. Even if the ones you need are already present, you may want to edit the order in which they appear so that it’s easier for students to play. To edit chords, tap the Song Settings button (looks like a spanner) and then tap Edit Chords. Tap one of the chord strips on the instrument and then edit the chord by swiping the chord wheels above. You can choose the chord, its quality and an alternate bass note.


What about you?

Do you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share? Add them in the comments section below.

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By |2018-09-08T06:59:28+00:00April 10th, 2012|iPads|13 Comments

About the Author:

I love to simplify technology for music teachers. I help teachers from all around the world through the Midnight Music Community - an online professional development community where teachers can take online courses, ask questions and receive personalised help for the music tech goals.


  1. Amy M. Burns April 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Great article Katie!

  2. Eldar Skjørten April 13, 2012 at 4:39 am - Reply

    Great tips Katie! You just inspired me to read more in the manual. 🙂

    • Marianne H May 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      Your tips save me so much time! Thank you Katie

      • Katie May 11, 2012 at 8:33 am - Reply

        Thanks Marianne!

  3. Megan Iemma May 15, 2012 at 10:51 am - Reply

    The new Jammin’ features look good, yes it is limited to four people, but a good basis to start.

  4. Christian July 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm - Reply


    Great tips! Thanks.
    I have one little (?) question: is it possible to increase the length of a track at the beginning of a allready recorded song in order to record a intro? Dragging all the song is verry dificult and amost impossible due to the many blocks…
    Thanks for reply.

    • Katie July 31, 2012 at 11:04 am - Reply

      Hi Christian – the easiest way would probably be to duplicate the entire section that you’ve already recorded (go into the Song Sections area to do that) and then delete the contents of the first section and make that your intro. You can adjust the length of the intro section (ie. make it shorter) in the Song Sections area too.
      – Katie

      • James M. August 28, 2013 at 9:17 pm - Reply

        I sure hope the next updates of Garageband will address issues like this. I’ve just began exploring the app and found a lot of rooms for improvement.

        • Katie September 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm - Reply

          Yes – it’s just a couple of things that frustrate me. Mainly this file-sharing business. Makes it difficult to do such a simple thing like transfer your song off the iPad! I keep hoping there will be an update too. – Katie

  5. Tony November 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    I am stumped about how to plug in a real guitar and still hear the track. Anyone know?

    • Katie November 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      Hi Tony,

      Sorry for the delay in replying…What are you using to plug the guitar into the iPad? The iRig guitar adaptor? If so, the adaptor allows you to plug your guitar in one end and your headphones (or speakers) in the other end. There’s also a lead that comes out of the adaptor and plugs into the iPad. This picture shows it: http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irig/ I don’t have experience with other types of guitar/iPad adaptors, but I would guess that they work in a similar way. Hope that helps! – Katie

  6. […] Wright 1. 2. 1. 2. GarageBand for iPad Tips | Midnight Music. While preparing for an all-day iPads in the Music Classroom workshop last month, I ended up […]


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