About a week ago, a music education technology colleague, Sarah Mayer (musiced20.com), e-mailed another music techie and I about GarageBand for iOS. GarageBand has gone from being a $4.99 app to a free app with an in-app purchase that gives full functionality. If you are an existing GarageBand for iOS owner, you don’t need to worry about this, because when you update your existing GarageBand (something that likely happened a few months ago) everything is unlocked, or will be if you install GarageBand again and select the “Buy In-App Purchase” option.
However, if you are part of a school or district like mine, where GarageBand was not purchased before the new version came out, you can download the core of GarageBand for free, but the rest of the app lies behind the IAP. I have verified this: if you work through a Volume Purchase Plan, there is currently no way to manage an IAP. Suffice it to say that Apple is aware of the issue, although there is no specific timeline for the issue to be solved.
Meanwhile, the free version of GarageBand includes set of three touch instruments (Keyboard, Drums, and Smart Guitar) and an audio recorder. Hopefully these instruments will give students a good basis through which to learn about GarageBand and music.
I learned some things in my research and communication with a number of people regarding GarageBand and Audio. First, I have long said that audio is the last frontier on the iPad, as the iPad’s audio library can be used by other apps (even GarageBand can import those files), but no app can write to the audio library. The only way to get audio into the audio library is via iTunes file sharing, either linked to a computer or using the wi-fi connection between iTunes and a device. If your school, like mine, never has students sync to a computer (the iPads are stand-alone after they are issued, unless they need to be restored), you just are not going to be able to move audio to the iPad’s library. As I have mentioned in some previous posts, there are other ways to import audio, but it isn’t an easy process.
Second, I had been trying to use other apps to open audio into GarageBand (Using the “Open In” feature). This just isn’t possible, although audio from GarageBand will open into other apps, including iMovie, Dropbox, and Google Drive.
Third, GarageBand supports audio cut and paste. If you find an app that supports audio cut and paste, you should be able to cut and paste audio into GarageBand. See iosmusician.com for more information, specifically www.iosmusician.com/app-lists/audiocopy. My problem is that I am not seeing any apps that support audio cut and paste that are a) free and b) support Google Drive.
Fourth, GarageBand supports AudioBus, a way of moving audio from one program to another. My blogging music technology colleague Paul Shimmons (ipadmusiced.wordpress.com) has been doing a lot with AudioBus–check out his recent posts. The latest version of iOS 7 includes a new feature called “Inter-App Audio” in the core iOS library, allowing GarageBand to import audio inputs from other apps and effect apps. These are things that I don’t get into very much…but in a 1:1 iPad Middle School, you never know what the future may bring.
Finally, just a couple reminders about GarageBand for iOS. First, remember that the SmartStrings can be played bowing with your finger, or pizzicato by touch. The pizzicato is determined by your finger release, not the press (like a real string). Second, SmartStrings autoplay options play different patterns depending on how many fingers you use on the chord bar. Third, you can customize not only the key you are playing in, but the chords that appear on your screen for autoplay. These are not my tips, but they are certainly worth sharing.
I would like to thank Sarah for asking the original question that led to multiple conversations and e-mail discussions literally around the world.
One final, very important thing: I have a couple of questions that I would like to ask for the sake of feedback: I have left comments open for this reason.
1) If you use GarageBand for iOS with students, where do students run into problems? What causes them difficulty? What trips them up?
2) If you use GarageBand for iOS with students, what things in GarageBand get them the most excited? What do they use the most?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.