Music & Technology

By Destin Smith


It’s the year 2017 and technology is advancing more and more each and every year. By next year we may even have flying cars that run off of recycled paper…probably not. Today’s musician has access to so many great technological advances that were unavailable ten years ago. Although one of the pieces you may be currently learning is over 100 years old, that does not mean that you have to practice the same way that your grandparents may have. There are many great apps, programs, websites that I could list that can help you become a better musician like Garage band, Smart music, Tenuto…etc., but today I want to talk about some of the ways I use the program GarageBand in my classroom and in private lessons.

GarageBand is a music making app/program you can find on any apple device. While it is already on most apple devices, if you do have to purchase the program it is definitely worth it and very inexpensive. Although I teach the drum set, you can use GarageBand for other instruments as well.

Sometimes when you hear a recording of a song it may be too fast to really practice along with or break down what is happening in the music. In GarageBand you can input the notes of your instrument at a slow speed one part at a time. It is very much the same way you build a Lego set one block at a time. Once you have input all of the notes, you can practice along at your own pace until you have finally mastered it at the marked tempo. This is a great method because it causes you to go through each note and breaks a song into its smaller parts. In my drum lessons, if my students are trying to figure out a difficult rhythm, I will input the rhythm into a loop using the smart drum set.  This is typically a fast process and my students are able to learn the rhythm at their pace. Although practice CD’s or recordings are great, sometimes they may be too fast. If you record the drum set in parts, you can even adjust the parts for each piece of the drum set. In my own practice, if I hear a really cool drum pattern or fill that I like in a song I listen to, I like to use GarageBand to learn in because you can put it to a practice loop similar to the style it is in.

Another great feature of GarageBand is using the live loops to create a practice track. Most of the time when I say the word “Metronome” to my students it is common to see them physically cringe. It is like the practice-tool-that-shall-not-be-named. Although I firmly believe in the importance of the metronome (and I promise as you get used to it can become your friend), GarageBand gives you the ability to put in a drum pattern or back ground track as a time keeper. This can really liven your practice time. If you have an exercise or warm up that your listen to it might be fun to play it with a cool dubstep or country style loop.

There are so many other great features to GarageBand that can help enhance your practice time, but honestly creating your own music (which is the programs main purpose) is very enjoyable. I have had students as well as myself lose track of time because we are having so much fun making music.

Please click on the link bellow to gain more information about GarageBand. If you do not have an apple device, there are other great programs (Digital Audio Workshops) that you can find that are compatible with your device like FL studio, Acoustica Mixcraft, and Reaper.