22 Ways to Use Garageband or Soundtrap in Music Education

I need some ideas for using GarageBand or Soundtrap!

Almost every day I see a music teacher post on Facebook asking for ideas for using GarageBand or Soundtrap with their students.  Most teachers are keen to use GarageBand or Soundtrap in a meaningful way and want lesson ideas that will teach musical concepts.

In this podcast episode I cover:

  • How to get started with using GarageBand or Soundtrap with your students
  • How to decide what your outcomes should be for the lesson
  • The Golden Rule of all music tech projects
  • Specific ideas for lessons or projects at 4 different experience levels


Listen to the episode here (or on your favourite podcast app):

Tips for using GarageBand and Soundtrap

Getting started

  • Concentrate on your educational outcomes first
  • Learning the software will happen “by the way”
  • Define your outcomes
  • Musical outcomes
  • Tech outcomes
  • Focus on one or two things especially when getting started
    • form
    • melody
    • rhythm
    • chord progression
    • specific tech skills
    • major and minor chords
    • and so on
  • Advanced projects will encompass multiple skills and musical outcomes
  • It’s ok to use premade components especially with early starter projects
  • Aim to increase original material and use a wider range of music production techniques over time

Start simple

  • Do easy quick projects
  • Everything should have a purpose
  • I personally don’t do a “play around and do what you want” session – even your first session can have a focus/meaning
  • Focus on just one or two musical aspects
  • There are LOTS of beginner tech skills to learn so make that the focus at first

Basic tech skills covered in a beginner project may include…

  • How to start a new project
  • How to add/select an instrument
  • Learn how to play that instrument – on-screen keyboard, including changing octaves, changing sound
  • Don’t worry about extra/advanced things at this stage (adjusting timbre etc) – kids that are savvy will find that anyway
  • How to control playback
  • How to turn on/off metronome (important!!) and count-in
  • How to record
  • How to fix mistakes and/or re-record
  • How to add a new track
  • How to adjust levels/mix
  • How to save
  • How to export

The Golden Rule

My Golden Rule for all music tech projects: do the entire project yourself from start to finish.

When you do the project, think about the following:

  • What went wrong?
  • What was a surprise?
  • What was quick? Slow?
  • How did you export?

Running the lesson

Suggested approach for running the lesson

  • Plug your own computer into data projector/speakers
  • Show a bit first, then everyone has a go
  • Sometimes – play along with me
  • Everything takes longer than you think it will
  • Leave time for students to do their bit
  • Create your own finished version – “here’s one I prepared earlier”

Lesson ideas

In this episode I am referring to desktop version of GarageBand and Soundtrap.  Many things will also work on the iPad version of GarageBand and also on Mixcraft and Soundation.

Level 1: Easy (6 ideas)

Beginner projects should be simple. Stick to 1-3 tracks and keep it short (4-16 bars long).

Rap My Name

  1. What’s in a Name
  2. ABA form piece or question and answer – record melody of 4 bars, contrasting melody of 4 bars, copy section A
  3. Record yourself singing or playing a section of a piece you’re working on
  4. Take a clapping game and replicate the pattern – record using drum track – add rap over top
  5. Create a drum backing to accompany the piece you’re playing

Top tip!

  • Provide a template and let students fill in the gaps
  • Saves setup time if you want them to achieve something really fast

Level 2: Moving on (5 ideas)

  1. A 12-bar blues project – record a backing with drums, bass, guitar/keys plus a solo/melody using blues scale (limited notes for less experienced students; full blues scale for more advanced students)
  2. Record the blues in a “different” style – Trap, Dubstep, Tango
  3. Create a digital soundscape – narrate a story or poem, record SFX to go with it (turn off metronome!)
  4. Re-imagine a nursery rhyme: Nursery Rhymes Recut – similar skills to digital storytelling. Includes a creative writing component. Add in special effects on the voice part (make a high voice sound low, use a chipmunk effect etc)
  5. Create a podcast episode about a music history topic


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Ready for part 2? Click here to listen.


Midnight Music Community: special rate for MTT podcast listeners

The Midnight Music Community (MMC) is an online space for music teachers interested in learning more about music technology.  There are online courses, lesson plans and lots of other resources for Chromebooks, iPads, Macs and PCs. Professional development certificates are available for all training undertaken by MMC members and I am in the Community everyday, personally answering questions and offering advice to members.

Access the special rate for podcast listeners here.


Music technology courses for teachers

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