Sunday, February 17, 2013

We Luv Garage Band and Apple TV

Our iPads were loaded with Garage Band this week, so my 6th grade students were able to begin creating the backing tracks for the raps they are composing. 
Students creating their background tracks in Garage Band
After learning about hip hop and rap, as well as listening to some examples of rap using the book, "Hip Hop Speaks to Children," I started the rap project by having students compose a repetitive chorus and three verses to alternate with the chorus.  Each group was told to choose a theme for their raps content such as school, food, sports, etc.  They were instructed to write in AABB rhyme scheme, with each phrase being four beats long.  The first and second phrases ended in a rhyme, as did the third and fourth.  They had a template worksheet for this and worked on their rap speech in groups for two class periods.  I supported groups, checking that their rhythm and rhyme scheme worked.  Given a structured task, the students focused, worked hard, and had fun in the process.

This week, we started to lay the loops in Garage Band that will serve as the background for their composed rap.  Students have to choose 3 loops to layer, from at least two different instrument families, keeping in mind the genre of music we are working with.  We were just laying the loops for the Chorus of their rap this week, as the Garage Band app allows you do divide the loops by form and measures.  Next class, hopefully, we will get the loops composed for their verses and begin to record the vocal track on top of the loops.

I was amazed at the cool loop combinations my students were coming up with.  They were thinking creatively and musically.  They adjusted volume levels for balance and some groups even patched different loops together to make an overall loop.  They blew me out of the water with their musical thinking.

The Garage Band app is great, but it is definitely not quite as straight forward as the computer application. There are fewer loops to choose from, but maybe that is a good thing when working with elementary students.  The kids maneuvered the app quite easily, but it did take me some time to figure things out, even though I was very familiar with the computer application.  Some of the features from the full version are not accessible on the iPad version.  However, being able to have a way to work with Garage Band IN the music room, without having to get lab time, makes the app version more appealing to me.
Showing my work on my iPad via the Apple TV hook up

My Apple TV was set up this week too, making this process AMAZING.  I was able to work on my iPad and demosntrate what I wanted the students to do on their iPads, while walking around the room with my iPad in hand.  My work was projected onto my Smart Board Screen through my projector.  I was also able to put up the work of other groups by hooking up their iPad to the apple tv and sharing their cool ideas with the class, to help spark each group to work to their best potential.  Students were also great about giving specific feedback to each other.

I can't wait to use the Apple TV more and finish these projects.  I'll be sure to share some of the students' finished work on my blog as soon as they wrap up their work. 

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