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Project guide: Creating music for stories using iPad and GarageBand, part one

GarageBand on iPad is a great app for music and podcast creation, and you can also use it to create amazing background music for stories. And with GarageBand for iOS, it’s easy bring musical creativity into the classroom!


Conal Siddall

In this two part project guide (part two here), we’re going to show you how to use some of the amazing features on GarageBand for iOS to create a narration and short musical piece for a book. We’re going to be getting tips for using GarageBand from the Everyone Can Create Music guide made by Apple Education to create the music. So, download it for free here or on the Books iOS app before you start.

Explore Live Loops in GarageBand

With lots of different Live Loops (short instrumental clips used to create a full song) to choose from, it’s a good idea to spend some time exploring GarageBand’s library so students can get used to it.

There are three activities in page 1-11 of the Everyone Can Create Music guide which will teach you how to use the basic features of the app and Live Loops.


Step one: Narrate your story

GarageBand is a big app with a lot of capabilities, so we’re going to boil it down to the basics to create our story. Before we create the background music, we’ll want to record the narration. For our story, we will use Michael Rosen’s ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’.

We’ll be recording audio straight into GarageBand using iPad’s built-in microphone. The Everyone Can Create guide features an activity on recording a narrative, however we’ll want to create your project in a slightly different way so that we can use Live Loops for the background music later.

Firstly, open a new Live Loops project. Then tap the + button on the instruments column on the left, then select instruments. Swipe until you find the audio recorder, then tap voice. Now you can follow the instructions on page 65-66 of the guide to record an audio clip. Finally, tap the grid button (the one that looks like a table in the top left) to see your recording in the grid.

TIP: Leave a short pause before and after each recording so you don’t cut off any of your narration. You can trim these pauses afterwards.


Trimming audio:

  • • Press the edit cells button.
  • • Tap the cell you want to trim.
  • • Press edit and tap the audio.
  • • Drag the bars on the edge of the audio to trim, then hit done.


It’s a good idea to record your narration in different segments, as narrating a long story can be difficult. To record another clip, double tap the cell next to your previous recording. To rearrange segments, simply tap the edit cells button (bottom left of the app), then press and hold a cell and drag it to where you want.


Add your own sound effects during the recording

In We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, there are several sections where sounds feature in the book which we can add during recording – you could let students explore using classroom items to make these different sounds as an activity.

Here are some we used for ours:

  • • Long wavy grass: run several sheets of paper or a brush across a desk.
  • • Deep cold river: splash your hands in a bowl of water – keep your device dry!
  • • Thick oozy mud: get a heap of wet toilet paper and walk your fingers over it.
  • • Big dark forest: hit the table with the palm of your hand twice, then once with your nails to the timing of *stum-ble-trip*.
  • • Swirling whirling snowstorm: blow into the microphone of your device.
  • • Narrow gloomy cave: tap on the table quietly.


Once you have all the sections of your recording finished, try listening to them by triggering the loops. Then, once you’re happy with all your segments, you’re ready to create the music. 

Check out part two here to find out how to create your background music using Live Loops and more!

If you want to know more about using iPad or GarageBand in lessons, get in touch with our team on 03332 409 290 or email For the latest news, follow us on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.

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