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Lesson guide: Make music on a Mac

Making music on a Mac has never been easier. Apple’s tools have long been the industry benchmark and, now more powerful than ever, they provide access to composition and recording tools for all ages and abilities. So now your students can create high quality music just like the professionals with no barrier to their imagination or ambition.

If you'd like to teach your pupils how to create top-quality tunes on a Mac (with a little help from GarageBand, Logic Pro X and the right kit), take a look at our step by step lesson plan below that covers everything you need to know...

Getting started

You can start composing music on a Mac in a variety of ways, and Apple’s tools provide a wide range of starting points for classroom music making.

Both GarageBand and Logic Pro X come with a huge amount of pre-recorded content in the form of Apple Loops, instrumental sounds and even a virtual drummer. Loops offers a simple way to get started – piece together a backing track and construct a solid rhythmic foundation.

With Drummer, you have a versatile virtual session drummer at your fingertips that allows you to create realistic grooves and covers a wide range of styles from rock to EDM. Users can get an incredibly realistic result by simply choosing drum kits and edit sounds, and using preloaded recordings of some of the world's top session players.

Some students may want to get started right away by plugging in a microphone or guitar and recording their ideas that way. Not a problem! Using a suitable audio interface (see below for our expert kit recommendations) you can record as many tracks as you need, whether you are capturing that initial idea, adding a top line to a backing track, or adding backing vocals or a guitar solo to a larger production.

Bigger audio interfaces support multiple inputs and outputs, so with enough microphones it's easy to set up and record instruments like drums, or to make multi-mic live recordings of the school band or orchestra.

Our audio interface picks:

Audient ID4 - For the price point and scroll control.

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 - For something with dual headphone outputs (useful for classrooms with two students per workstation).

You might need to start thinking about creating space for live audio capture and monitoring, but in the meantime, we're happy to advise on how you can make the best of your current space based on what you want to achieve.

Our picks for live audio capture and monitoring:

Auralex Roominators D36 is our best selling acoustic treatment kit to help with non-ideal rooms. It's perfect for spot treatment, and addresses the acoustic and aesthetic needs of small project studios, as well as the most demanding professional mix/mastering environments.

Aston Microphones Halo Reflection Filter is ideal for improving microphone recordings in non-ideal rooms.

Kinsman Dynamic Handheld Microphone is our best value, top quality mic that'll sound great wherever you use it.

Developing the melody and adding parts

Both GarageBand and Logic Pro X have a built-in keyboard but it's really simple to add a MIDI keyboard controller just by plugging it in.

Our keyboard picks:

M-Audio Keystation 49 II – Our most popular basic USB MIDI controller keyboard for schools.

M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV – A much more advanced 49-key controller keyboard with volume sliders and trigger pads.

GarageBand and Logic Pro X provide huge libraries of instrumental sounds that can be tweaked (a technical term) to individualise the sound if necessary.

Logic Pro X contains a much larger sound library, as well as a complete range of powerful synthesisers and samplers that allow for advanced sound design and synthesis techniques.

Edit and mix

They say it's all in the mix, and both GarageBand and Logic Pro X provide the tools you need to edit and mix recordings for professional, high quality results. You can fix rhythm and pitch issues with tools like Flex Time and Pitch, take care of balance and blend, and finesse your sounds with audio effect plug-ins such as compression, visual EQ and pitch correction. Logic Pro X offers hundreds of inputs, bus and auxiliary channels, track and region-based automation, and multichannel patches for a quick set up that's ready to go from first use and can deliver highly detailed, industry-standard results.

Share your sounds!

Apple makes sharing tracks between classmates, teachers and the world a total breeze. Whether you're using Airdrop to quickly share a whole project with a partner or the classroom, or exporting the finished track direct to SoundCloud or Apple Music for a wider audience, Apple’s apps make sharing and uploading as straightforward as possible.

Development, progression and collaboration

Apple’s tools make music creation on a Mac accessible for students of all abilities. We'd recommend starting in GarageBand, then moving to Logic Pro X when students are ready to take their composition, recording and mixing to the next level. And don't worry, both applications help make the transition as easy as possible. GarageBand projects can open right into Logic Pro X, and users are greeted by a familiar interface. Once ready, you can turn on Logic Pro X’s advanced tools view to access the entire breadth of the software's music making functionality, but these features will remain hidden until activated to prevent newcomers being overwhelmed by more complex mixing utilities.

You can even work in GarageBand on an iPad when you are roughing out your mixes, then transfer them straight into GarageBand or Logic Pro X on the Mac and carry straight on where you left off.

For schools with both Mac and iPad, an exciting new Share option in Logic Pro X lets students upload a GarageBand-compatible version of a project to iCloud. They can then contribute tracks to this project using GarageBand on an iPad or even their iPhone, which will appear in the original Logic Pro X project the next time they open it on Mac.

Want to find out more about making music on a Mac? Drop us an email at or call 03332 409 290. For everything else, including the latest news, events and offers, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 or ‘like’ us on Facebook.