Blog Post

GarageBand Tips

garagebandAfter months of dragging her feet, my younger sister finally ponied-up and bought a MacBook. She’s an exceptional piano player and has a Digital Yamaha Piano that she plays. I sent her the USB/Midi cable she’ll need to marry the two pieces together and allow her to get crazy in GarageBand, so lack of hardware should not be a road block for her. Getting used to using GarageBand however, will be the most likely culprit.

While I’ve toyed with GB a bit, I’m no lyrical gangster – in fact if my little sis and I were the characters in Twins, I’d be the Danny DeVito of musical ability… So while I can instruct her on the basics of navigating the app, I’m hoping there may be some exceedingly cool readers who can leave excellent tips for new GarageBand users. Whether that be good reference websites, tutorials, or just things to know/use in the app itself, all would be appreciated.

GarageBand is one of the really neat programs that make it possible for just about anyone to get creative with music. But it can be a bit daunting to the uninitiated, so hopefully we can compile a nice listing of tips and resources here, for all those who have been interested in trying their hand at music, but have yet to take the dive.

Thanks in advance for some great input, dear readers!

16 Responses to “GarageBand Tips”

  1. Read as much aas you can about the program. Play with it a lot. Get creative (sounds like you don’t need a push in that area), listen, listen and listen. You can have all the info and theory in the world but if you don’t let the music guide you, your songs will be lost. Even the untrained ear can hear the smallest of errors.

    Listen to my album which is now on iTunes: Ngqibs – Let Me Be

    You would be surprised at how much you can do with this powerful program and the quality of work it can produce. Listen, listen and listen…

    All the best!

  2. Utilize the keyboard commands instead of the trackpad as much as possible. It cuts editing/recording time in half (I have the upgraded version so I don’t know if the old one will have the same conveniences). Button commands such as:

    apple+r: record
    spacebar: stop
    enter: bring cursor to beginning
    apple+u: metronome on/off
    apple+i: effects, monitors, etc.
    apple+z: undo
    arrow keys
    apple+delete: deletes track
    shift+apple+n: creates new basic track
    ctrl+arrow right or left: expands/contracts grid

    …and much more!

    Happy music making!

  3. If you have a .mac account, there’s more than just a little help there for you. The Learning Center will show you the ropes and within minutes you should have the basics down. From there, you can find all sorts of additional step by step instructions on other things to do with Garage Band. Most of the content includes video tutorials that only take a couple minutes per subject. This should get you going faster than a book might. Second, there are parts of 4 of the Sampler Packs available to all .mac members as a free download. This adds quite the generous amount of material to the application. Also, if you are near an Apple store, try to attend one of the free workshops for Garage Band. That will give an overview of the application in an hours time that should help tremendously. Good luck!

  4. Max Lawrence

    I would like any tips for moving GB songs from one computer to another. Saving as ‘archive’ helps but I am still moving songs in GB format and they won’t play on another Mac or won’t save as an archive on the original mac ( The archive option is greyed out in the Save dialogue box ).

  5. A couple of quick tips:

    1) Make sure your settings in the Audio/MIDI preference page are correct. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to myself, “Hey, I can’t hear anything” simply because I have it set to the wrong input or output.

    2) Once you’ve selected a track, open the Info panel on the right (Command + I). The most important option in that whole darn thing is the “Monitor – On/Off” setting. Again, I can’t count how many times I’ve started playing something on my bass and heard nothing, only to discover that I hadn’t set Monitor to On.

    3) For some stupid reason, every time you click a track, GarageBand likes to record-enable it.

    4) Definitely check out the expansion packs…they have a lot of cool features to play with beyond what comes with the basic installation.

  6. Ray Thompson

    I’m having great fun using GB to synchronize narration, music, and sound effects with movies, or especially movies made from slides. iMovie will do it but I highly recommend FotoMagico! A low-res version of your movie is exported under “Share” into GB so that you can see every frame of the movie if you wish! When finished you save the GB “song” as a single track and drag it back into your movie/slide program! Its a lot of fun!

    Bye R@y

  7. Charles Mitchell

    I have written a lot of songs on garageband, and I found that the basic instruments were not very expressive. By expanding garageband with either a jampack or a third party sampler (I use Kontakt), the inspiration came more naturally. I think the manuals listed above are good, but I found that I needed help when it came to making my songs sound good. (i.e. mixing and mastering). That part is more difficult then I thought it would be when I first started.

  8. I love GarageBand. It’s simple, but it can do a great deal of things. I wish I could give you some tips, but I have no idea where to start… so I’m going to say the link that Vineet gave you above should cover it.

    I’ve used the built in instrument synth before, but I usually record real instruments (the built-in mic on the MacBook is surprisingly good) and add effects or tweak the EQ afterwards. It’s a lot of fun.

    I hope to hear some of your sister’s work soon. :)