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Integrate technology and music through Apple's GarageBand.


Throughout the history of humankind, music has been a form of personal expression. Music has progressed from the creation of primitive instruments used for playing around the campfire and the singing of hymns in great cathedrals to the creation of music using electronic devices during the last century. One of these musical innovators was Les Paul, also known as the "Wizard of Waukesha." Paul's boyhood exploration and experimentation with both instruments and recording techniques have contributed greatly to the sounds found in contemporary music. Like Paul, today's students can experiment with music, compliments of Apple's software program, GarageBand. GarageBand, which is available to Apple users, can be a valuable resource for teachers who wish to integrate music and technology in their classrooms. Audacity is a similar software package alternative to GarageBand for PC users. This column will feature the GarageBand program that allows students to create, manipulate, and experiment with music in new and exciting ways.



Lester William Polfuss was born on June 9, 1915, in Waukesha, Wl. As an inquisitive boy, Polfuss, who later became known as Les Paul, taught himself to play music on his mother's piano, which he promptly tore apart to see how it worked. An admirer of the blues and country musicians that he heard on the radio, he imitated their songs with his hand-me-down harmonica and hollow-body guitar. Paul learned to play both instruments simultaneously by making his own harmonica holder out of a wire coat hanger. As a teenager, Paul played at a drive-in restaurant, and it was there that he experimented with amplified sound to reach an open-air audience. To do this, he stuck a phonograph needle inside his acoustic guitar and wired it to radio speakers that he had borrowed from his parents.

As Paul grew older, he became well known on the radio and music club scene. Paul was also an early designer of an electric guitar that had a solid body called "The Log," and this model managed to reduce sound distortions common to acoustic instruments. "The Log" was made of a four-inch-thick piece of wood from a nearby railroad track, a neck he borrowed from an Epiphone guitar, and two pickup devices to give it the electric pulse. Audiences and music executives laughed at the awkward device, and Paul spent years honing its visual appeal. In 1952, Gibson Guitar Company came to Paul and wanted his name on a new solid-body electric guitar based on his invention. The Gibson "Les Paul" solid-body electric guitar became a best seller, which it remains to this day. For all his work expanding the field of music instrumentation, Les Paul was voted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005. Like Paul, you can encourage your students to experiment with today's technology to make music.


Students today can now use digital technology to experiment with and create innovative music like Les Paul. GarageBand is a free software application for Mac's operating systems OS X and lOS that allows its users to create and manipulate music. GarageBand has a standard drag-and-drop interface that is easy for students to use. This interface is where different prerecorded or student-recorded sections, or loops, are strung together on separate tracks. In electro-acoustic music, a loop is a repeating section of sound material. Students can also utilize the program's premade loops to expedite song creation. GarageBand uses two types of media: software instruments (either recorded already in the program or imported from files), and real instruments (either recorded or imported audio files). GarageBand will also turn an iPad/iPhone into a collection of touch instruments such as a guitar or piano and a full-featured recording studio, allowing students to create music on different handheld devices in the classroom.

use in the classroom

Using an imaginative spirit like Les Paul, students today have an assortment of technology options to use, such as Apple GarageBand, that encourage them to both create and appreciate music in different ways. A plethora of options in GarageBand are available for teachers to get their students experimenting with and manipulating music. Using the Magic GarageBand selection, students can select from a variety of music genres. Picking a genre leads the student to a stage where there are numerous instruments available. A student can then create new songs or experiment with new melodies by changing lead instruments. It is very easy for students to explore and create on their own without fear of making errors in this environment. Once a genre and instruments are chosen, students can open the song in GarageBand proper and begin to manipulate it.

Another great feature of this program is the ability to create music through musical loops Apple has embedded in the program. By starting a new project and choosing loops, students can pick from existing musical melodies including guitars, drums, horns, and various other instruments to add to their song. They can then loop these melodies by copying and pasting in any way they desire. This teaches students about musical phrases and repetition patterns.

Another exciting feature of GarageBand includes video instruction for playing both piano and guitar. When choosing the "Learn to Play" selection, students are guided through a series of video lessons that include step-by-step instruction regarding how to play the instrument. Students may even slow down the instructional video for closer examination. The student can also open the song in GarageBand proper where background music is added to accompany the student's playing.

Although digital music and its manipulation were unimaginable in the time of Les Paul, students today can nurture their musical interests using technology. Young learners should be given the opportunity to experiment and "play" with music to make new discoveries, and many new musical technologies can provide this. Computer programs such GarageBand give students the opportunity to experiment with music and investigate new, creative musical outlets while collaborating with their peers. The resources highlighted in this column should provide inspiration and technical assistance for teachers who wish to integrate the subject of music with technology. For more information on using this software, check out the book Making Music with GarageBand and Mixcraft, ISBN 13: 978-1-4354-5870-3.



Fein, M., Frankel, J., Hodson, R., & McCready, R. (2010). Making music with GarageBand and Mixcraft. Florence, KY: Course Technology PTR--Cengage Learning.

PBS. (n.d.). Les Paul: Chasing sound. Documentary on the life of Les Paul, including extended interviews with Paul. Retrieved from watch/91100/les-paul--chasing-sound

Wyckoff, Edwin. (2008). Electric guitar man--the genius of Les Paul. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.

Kevin J. Kaluf, NBCT, is a graduate assistant in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. He can be reached at kkaluf@
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Title Annotation:RESOURCES
Author:Kaluf, Kevin J.
Publication:Children's Technology and Engineering
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2011
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