Common Sense Review
Updated April 2012


Amazingly powerful music workstation unleashes the musician in us all
Common Sense Rating 5
  • One of GarageBand's Smart Instruments; this Smart Keyboard has pre-tuned chords (which can be customized) and Autoplay riffs so it always plays in tune and in rhythm.
  • GarageBand's opening screen; here you can find and arrange all of your GarageBand projects.
Portable, intuitive touch-screen design puts amazing music creation at kids' fingertips.
Can't purchase additional pre-recorded loops; brass and woodwind instruments are absent from Smart Instruments.
Bottom Line
Exceptional function and value in this all-inclusive digital music workstation -- it's fantastic for recording anything anywhere, especially on the go.
Kim Alessi
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

GarageBand ropes in kids and unleashes unthought-of musical abilities. Robust features, appealing design, and amazing sound quality make this THE go-to for music creation. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 5

Impressive digital audio workstation lets kids explore multi-track recording, composition, and sound design. Pre-recorded grooves and versatile tools empower them for mobile music creation and sharing. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 5

Outstanding in-app support guides kids through features, including aptly placed sticky-note help features. Support is offered in 34 languages, a plus for ELL students. An in-app glossary explains musical and audio recording terminology.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

GarageBand can be used for an array of classroom experiences, from learning the elements of music to creating original songs and musical scores to recording live instruments and vocals. The app's graphic interface helps teach multitrack recording and editing, musical form, and song structure. Smart Instruments teach scales, chord progressions, and rhythmic layering through a clever, interactive matrix. Advanced students can dabble in the app's more sophisticated production and editing tools like Note Editor and Quantizer, while video, film, and web design students can export GarageBand creations as custom soundtracks for movies and other media. The app's glossary is also a great resource for teaching basic music and audio recording terminology. Teachers can decide whether to encourage students to share their creations via social networks or email. They can also explore providing in-class feedback or prompting work-sharing projects among classmates or digital pen pals.

Editor's note: Reviewer Kim Alessi worked with Apple as curriculum writer and consultant from 2004 to 2008.

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What's It Like?

GarageBand turns your iOS device into a powerful, mobile multi- track recording studio complete with pre-recorded loops and impressive editing and sharing features. The app is huge but is absolutely worth the space -- it's exceptionally functional and is loaded with great sounds, interactive virtual instruments, and helpful production tools for endless music creation, regardless of musical training.

The app is designed to give everyone an amazing musical experience. Several standout features eliminate guesswork and tighten up performances. Smart Instruments offer pre-tuned chords to play in key, and Autoplay riffs help players keep in rhythm. The Note Editor and the Quantizer help players sharpen notes and land on the beat. The Sampler captures any sound and makes it playable on a keyboard through various scales and modes. Musicians of any skill level can loop or play virtual instruments or record live through the in-app mic.

The app's sharing features are also impressive. Jam Session pairs other iOS devices through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth so up to four people can jam on the same song. GarageBand songs can be exported to iTunes or iMovie and shared via various social media, email, text, and even as a ring or text tone.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Imagine being able to write, record, and share your own music anywhere you are, with the added bonus of professional audio production tools at your fingertips. That's GarageBand. Teens can mix loops and record virtual or live instruments and vocals to create songs, scores, and soundscapes, then share with ease. Not only is GarageBand an excellent tool for teaching multi-track digital recording, it's also great for teaching composition, song structure, music theory, and aural skills. The app's visual interface brings sight to sound, and its multi-touch capability give students endless ways to create music.

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See how teachers are using GarageBand

Lesson Plans