4th Grade Garageband Project
My fourth graders participated in a 3 month project about composing melodies & inputting them into the program "Garageband" using the school iPads! For the first month, the students worked in partners learning how to compose melodies using the Orff instruments (xylophones, glockenspiels, & metallophones). They started using a simple worksheet called "Telephone Composition" where they used numbers from their phone numbers to begin with the basics of melodic writing. The numbers were then turned into letters using a chart to correspond with the notes on the Orff instruments. The students used one octave in their melodies (8 keys - Low C, D, E, F, G, A, B, & High C)
The students were then given a few basic guidelines to start making changes to their melodies. They were encouraged to use repetition & not have too many giant skips in their melody. For example, going from Low C to B is a big skip...perhaps too big! Step-wise motion and smaller skips were encouraged & the students started editing their melodies appropriately to match the guidelines of the project. What they ended up with were much more musical melodies!
The next step was to have each student create their own melody from scratch. Now that they had practice with a few basic guidelines, they were given more concrete parameters for their melodies.
Their new melodies had to follow these rules:
- 16 quarter notes in length - totaling four measures with four beats in each measure
- They had to start on C and end on C - it could be low C or high C, but their tonal center had to be around the note C
- Repetition was strongly encouraged
- There could be no skips bigger than a fifth (for example, Low C to G....five notes apart)
- Any skip of a 4th or a 5th had to be followed by a step in the opposite direction.
All of these guidelines led to some really fantastic melodies! They turned out to be very musical, very singable, and well done!
Once they had their new individual melodies & checked to be sure they followed the above guidelines, the students had to practice playing their piece over & over again with a steady beat. When they inputted their melodies into Garageband they needed to be able to play them with a steady beat, so much time was spent practicing this skill!
The last step before they could say they created REAL melodies was to transfer their notes onto the staff! The students did a wonderful job with this step & once completed, they could honestly say they composed a piece of music! Their melodies transferred to the staff looked like this:
The next part of the project was of course the MOST exciting....they got to get started with the iPads!! Each student was given a packet of extremely detailed instructions on how to use the basic aspects of the program & each class started with a demonstration by me using the projector & an iPad to show the students exactly how to work within this program.
The first goal was to record the melody they wrote into a track in Garageband. For many students this process took awhile because you have to be very exact when playing your melodies with a steady tempo. (steady beat)
Their 4 measure melody should look like this:
After they had their melody successfully recorded, they had to find a drum track that sounded good with it & insert that below their melody track. They then moved their melody over & lengthened the drum track so that they had a two measure introduction, followed by their melody.
Then the real fun started! The students had many class periods to experiment with the hundreds of loops (pre-recorded tracks) in Garageband to find other instruments to add into their melody & drum track song. They could choose from any instruments available - from violins, to tambourines, to sci-fi sound effects! As long as their melody remained the star of the piece & the other tracks didn't overwhelm it, I let them go to town! An example of a multi-track piece looks like this:
Finally, the students were asked to add a coda at the end of their piece. A coda is a little extra bit at the end of a piece of music to finish it off.
After their song was complete, I had them export it out of Garageband & share it with me via my google drive account. They also shared the songs with themselves using their google drive accounts so that they had access to their songs from any computer, simply by logging into their google drives. They could take that file & download it into their itunes at home to play on their computer or ipod/mp3 player or they could burn it onto a cd, pop that into a stereo & listen to their song wherever they want!
The students did an amazing job with this unit! They learned a lot about how to write melodies, how to arrange songs, & got an introduction to using the program, Garageband! Please ask your child to listen to their song today!