Coding a Beat With GarageBand

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Explore and create : Creation lab

Erika Moser  
Coding and music are two subjects teachers tend to stay away from because they feel they aren't qualified. This session focuses on the connections between music creation and coding — how and why it works — and how anyone can bring these two subjects into their learning environments.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: iOS
Tablet: iOS
Participant accounts, software and other materials: GarageBand for iPad/iPhone
Keynote for iPad/iPhone
Topic: Computer science & computational thinking
Grade level: PK-5
Subject area: Computer science, Music
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
  • Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.
For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The objective of this session is to show the parallels between music creation and coding and make it personalized and accessible for all classrooms - regardless of skill level. Many educators believe that teaching music and/or coding requires a specialized training and therefore gravitate away from bringing these ideas into their classrooms. This session will show how easy it is introduce these concepts through the use of GarageBand for iPad.


The session is designed for all educators, focusing on how through the use of apps such as GarageBand, learning and teaching can be transformed.
Participants will be introduced to a familiar melodic themes from classical music and be presented with the question, "How Would Beethoven Code a Motive?"
After a brief analysis and identifying the coding pattern from the Symphony, participants will move toward recreating their own pattern and then code that pattern in GarageBand's Beat Sequencer.
By using the drums and beat sequencer in GarageBand we will create commands - rhythmic patterns, develop our own code by creating notation, repeat our patterns to loop and even learn to debug our patterns.

The presentation takes about 30 minutes with 15 minutes of hands on exploration and creation, followed by 15 minutes of additional questions and/or conversation.

An iPad updated with the latest GarageBand features is required for the session.

Supporting research

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Erika Moser, Chesterbrook Academy Elementary School

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