When I was in high school I remember seeing the first computer that was able to sequence music and it blew my mind! Today, thanks to the advances in technology and the use of Apple technology in my classroom, we now have the ability to create a professional sounding record on iPad.
Using Live Loops templates to create individual compositions
The ability to record and produce records from a small handheld device would have been unthinkable when I was in school. The ability to choose from practically any instrument and being able to multi-track has been a game changer for my students’ compositions. The students are able to record and create music in school, at home or even on the bus!
Apple has recently released a series of ‘Everyone Can Create’ books and one of them is focused on creating Music. The book is not just a guide to composing using GarageBand, Live Loops and Apple Loops, but it also offers classroom activities to be used as part of the music curriculum.
My initial plan was to use the book for just my Year 9 classes. After working with the book I realised that it not only applies to Year 9 but to the whole of Key Stage 3. My Year 7 classes are currently studying the topic ‘Ostinato’, which is the musical term for ‘loop’ and therefore the Live Loops activity was perfect for this. My Year 8 classes are studying the topic ‘Form and Structure’ so the analysis of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ really helped to teach the students the main structural elements of a pop song. This then enabled the students to compose their own pieces using GarageBand, based on pop song structure.
For my Year 9 classes, the decision was made to entirely replace the current unit of work with the Everyone Can Create book. The book is set out so teachers can follow the activities in order but also use their own creativity to adapt the ideas to suit their lessons.
We started by using the Live Loop templates. The book reccomends using the Electro Funk template and after trying them all, this template is my favourite. Once they had rehearsed live triggering the loops, they recorded their performances. The students used this template to create outstanding compositions and even though they all used the same template, each composition sounded completey different.
The next stage was was to create a free compostion using Live Loops. The students used a blank template and used Apple Loops to select their own instruments and loops to be inserted into the session. Having such a wide selection of instruments enabled the students to be highly creative. Some students were infuenced by their favourite genres of pop music whilst other student’s experimented with world instruments.
We then thought a bit deeper about song composition and looked at the structure of pop music. The Everyone Can Create Music book analyses the structure of Justin Timberlake’s song ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’. This was a great resource for the class to undestand the different sections or elements of pop music. The book explains that there is a base structure and also some optional elements that can be added for variation. This enabled the students to think about how they compose using GarageBand, ensuring that the piece flows and remains interesting to the listener.
The final task of this half-term was to take everything the students had learned from the book and to create their own composition from scratch. They used a blank template, selected their loops from the Apple Loops library and considered their structure when arranging the loops. This resulted in very high quality sounding pieces which developed throughout. The students learned composition techniques and demonstrated their knowledge gained from creating with GarageBand.
Our next step in the book is to download Justin Timberlake’s song as a Live Loops session. This will enable the students to edit, rearrange and create their own remix of the hit record. Watch this space to find out how they get on!