Free Checklist: How to Record a Song in GarageBand on iPad

Working in GarageBand with your students can be fun and rewarding, but it can also feel overwhelming if you’re not sure what steps to take. To make things much easier for you and your students, I’ve created a checklist to help you go through the process step-by-step.

1. Choose your song

  • Cover song?
  • Original?

2. Collect Resources

  • Lyrics (print them out)
  • Chord chart and/or sheet music
  • Audio recording and/or YouTube clip

3. Listen, listen, listen! (and plan)

  • If you’re creating a cover version of an existing song, listen to it LOTS of times
  • What is the key and tempo?
  • Write song section names (intro, verse, chorus, bridge etc) on lyrics sheet
  • Label the sections A, B, C, D and so on
  • Write down the number of bars in each section on the lyrics sheet
  • Which instruments will play in each section?
  • Which sections are the same or similar?  Which are different?

4. Open GarageBand on your iPad

  • Start a new project: tap the Create Document

5. Select instrument

  • Choose the instrument you are going to record first

6. Choose the song settings

  • Tap the wrench icon and set the Key, Tempo, Time signature

7. Set up the Section length

  • Tap the Song Sections button (small “+” sign at top right)
  • Tap Section A
  • Next to Manual, set the number of bars/measures for the first section

8. Record the first track (section A)

  • Record the part for your chosen instrument
  • Optional: quantize the recording (Mixer icon > Track Settings > Quantization)
  • TIP: if you’re recording a Touch Instrument, you can slow the tempo down while you record and then increase it again later on

9. Go to Track view

  • Edit/fix the recording if necessary

10. Add a new track

  • Choose the next instrument you will record for this section

11. Record the second track (section A)

  • Record the part for your chosen instrument
  • Optional: quantize the recording (Mixer icon > Track Settings > Quantization)

12. Go to Track view

  • Edit/fix the recording if necessary

13. Repeat steps 10, 11 and 12

  • Continue to add new tracks and record their parts until you’ve completed Section A
  • Repeat as many times as necessary

14. Set up Section B

  • FIRST!! Decide whether the parts in section B are the same or similar to the ones in section A.  If they are similar or the same, DUPLICATE section A. You can edit the parts if needed.  If this section is completely different, ADD a new section (using NEW means you will add an empty section)
  • Adjust the number of bars/measures in Section B if necessary

15. Record parts in Section B

  • Follow the same steps to record all the instrument parts in section B

16. Set up Section C

  • Decide whether you will DUPLICATE one of the earlier sections or ADD a new section

17. Record the parts in Section C

  • Follow the same steps to record all the instrument parts in section C

18. Repeat steps 16 & 17

  • Continue to duplicate/add new sections and record parts until the song is complete

19. Listen to the entire song

  • Tap the Song Sections button and then tap All Sections
  • Press play to hear the entire song from start to finish

20. Mix

  • Listen to your project: are any instruments too loud? Too soft?
  • Open the track header area and adjust track volume levels if necessary

21. Record vocals

  • Plug in headphones. They will stop the sound of the backing track coming out of the speakers
  • Plug in external microphone (if using one)
  • Tap record and sing the vocal part over the top of your backing

22. Save and share

  • Save your project and rename it
  • Share/export the final project as per your teacher’s instructions

Download a copy of this checklist

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Want more tech resources for music teachers?

Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.

I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.

I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects. I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences an other music education events.

If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.

Learn more and take a sneak peek inside