Lesson guide: Make music on a Mac

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 education@Jigsaw24.com 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.


Video: Learning to code on iPad with Apple Swift Playgrounds

Video: Learning to code on iPad with Apple Swift Playgrounds

In this video, Apple Education Trainer Mike runs through the basics of how to use Apple’s coding app Swift Playgrounds, why it’s great for students, and how it helps you hit those computing curriculum requirements. Learn to code on an iPad in a fun, engaging way.

Want to know more about iPad and coding in the classroom? Give us a call on 03332 409 290 or drop an email to education@Jigsaw24.com. Follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or like our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page for all the latest technology in education news, reviews and articles.

Supporting neuro-diverse learners with iPad’s accessibility features

Supporting neuro-diverse learners with iPad’s accessibility features

Technology can assist those with a range of challenges to access and enhance learning. So what can iPad offer to neuro-diverse learners and, in particular, those with dyslexia?

To introduce myself, I am currently working as an Apple Education Trainer for Jigsaw24, who are the leading Apple Solutions Expert for Education in the UK. Previously, I have worked as a musician and educator, principally in the further education space. Jigsaw24 have been lucky enough to work alongside Dyslexia Action as well as the British Dyslexia Association, Patoss and Helen Arkell on the recent DfE supported training tour, where our five minute taster session presenting some of the ideas discussed in this article have been met with excitement and enthusiasm.

For some time now, technology has provided us with many wonderful – and usually bespoke – solutions for a range of challenges to learning that our students face in their classrooms. These clever pieces of kit often target one specific need and can be relatively expensive, not particularly portable, and require extensive training. Typically, learners will exhibit a range of challenges and behaviours – they are ‘neuro-diverse’. Providing technological solutions to support each behaviour could very quickly become unmanageable and cost-prohibitive, unless the technology can address both a range of challenges and, perhaps crucially, also support the learning of each student on a more general level.

Unfortunately targeted solutions can also create a stigma for the user or be seen as a label. This is not ideal in any situation, but in a classroom, which is already a highly sensitive melting pot of behaviours and emotions, the effect can be detrimental where the aim is to improve rather than detract from learning.

Stigma-free technology

So wouldn’t it be great if there was a stigma-free device for learning that included a wide range of tools that would support both learning in a general sense and challenges identified under the neuro-diversity umbrella? A device that all learners were using and which was able to support both those who have identified challenges and those who do not? Then the stigma created by technological technological solutions may start to disappear. iPad is that device.

iPad is fast becoming ubiquitous in schools, but that doesn’t mean simply by buying iPad that you will improve learning. In my role as an Apple Education Trainer, it has become my mission to increase awareness of the opportunities these tools give us, both to support those with identified challenges, and learning in the classroom in a more general sense.

It is not unusual for me to visit a school where iPad is being used just for browsing the internet, with no awareness of the possibilities they present and the support they can provide. At one recent event we asked the question: ‘How many of you have iPad in your school?’ 180 hands went up. Then we asked: ‘How many of your schools are using these devices effectively?’ 180 hands went down.

So I would like to give you a small range of examples that show how iPad can support a classroom where learning can be reimagined, and students with a range of needs can work alongside their peers with no fear of stigma. My intention is to catch your interest, and encourage you to find out more – details at the end of the article!

Help with reading

Computers traditionally display text as small fine black shapes against a bright white background. Ironically designed as an enhancement of the printed book, this format presents challenges on a number of levels. iPad contains a simple function in the Settings app called Invert Colours (tap General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations). This will literally swap white for black, which for some immediately makes reading more comfortable, reduces visual stress, and makes print more legible.

Invert Colours

Invert Colours

An intervention for those with forms of dyslexia and/or Irlen Syndrome has been to provide colour overlays for printed materials and computer screens. The latest version of the operating system that runs on iPad (iOS 10) now includes a feature that allows you to customise a colour overlay for the whole device. Again in the Settings app (tap General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations) simply choose your colour tint and hue, and visual stress can be immediately reduced. This overlay will then feature in any app that you use on the iPad.

Colour FiltersImage 02B

Help for the visually impaired

Screen readers are a proven technology and very helpful for some. iPad contains several ways for users to make their device talk to them, from the ‘light touch’ to a complete voiceover feature for the visually impaired. Enabling Speak Selection (in the Settings app, tap General > Accessibility > Speech) allows the user to select specific text when required and have it spoken to them in a range of voices. Speak Screen (also found in Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech) on the other hand, enables the screen reader function which is activated by simple gesture (swipe down with two fingers from the very top of your screen, once the function has been enabled in Settings.)

This has many uses – aside from the obvious screen reader functions which will support those with visual challenges, this enables all learners to review their own work and check it where simply reading the words is not enough. Speak Screen works everywhere on iPad once enabled. Combined with the Reader function in the Safari web browser app (which removes all the clutter from a webpage leaving the simple text), gives easier access to online materials for those for whom graphics and text layout create a barrier.

Screen Reader

Help with focusing

Guided Access (Settings app, tap General > Accessibility > Guided Access) is a feature some say was originally added to iPhone to help tired parents on long-haul flights, but it is also a great feature for assisting learners who are easily distracted by the possibilities that a device like iPad offers. Enabling Guided Access allows you to lock the iPad into a single app. This means the user can stay on task, and remain in a safe environment while your busy back is turned supporting another student.

And while Guided Access is ideal in a one-to-one intervention scenario, Apple’s recent release of the Classroom app means that teachers and those working with groups can focus activity on a set of devices with simple commands from the teacher’s device.

Guided Access

The accessibility features listed above work most effectively where each student has their own device, so features can be personalised to every situation. In many schools this is simply not an option from a cost point of view, which is where the Shared iPad feature comes in. Each shared device will remember the individual settings chosen by or for each user, and recall those settings when the user logs in (a simple matter of tapping your own image on the Home screen).

Apple Classroom

Accessibility apps

Most apps haven’t been designed with accessibility in mind, but many of the most popular classroom apps offer learners a choice of ways to create content and capture evidence, combined with their ease of use – something that’s essential for the teacher or assistant who is not necessarily technologically minded!

Book Creator lets you add photos and type – but any word processor can do that. Where Book Creator scores is the ability to quickly and simply add rich media content (sound recordings and video recordings, for example) at the press of a button. Learners challenged by text can easily record rich ideas without barriers. This also lends itself really well to the notion of providing instruction, recorded by teacher or student. Its page-based layout supports the clear structuring of information, and it is very easy for teachers or students to create a book comprising rich media as a way of sharing instructions or ideas.

And it helps that Book Creator is designed by developers with a keen eye on the education space. A clear example is the inclusion of the Open Dyslexic Font in the font choices.

Book Creator

These examples are but a small selection of what is possible, both with built-in features and apps. iPad is continuing the great tradition of Mac in offering an inclusive approach to technology which was started back in 1984 by Steve Jobs, a man who himself didn’t allow dyslexia to be a barrier to success.

Meeting Learners’ Needs events

If you’d like to know more about iPad and its accessibility features, and get hands-on with these ideas and many more, why not enrol on one of our upcoming half day Meeting Learners’ Needs courses? Suitable for both primary and secondary teachers, they’re a great chance to find out more about how you can use iPad to make an impact with a wide range of learners. Venue and date details as follows:

– 28th February 2017, London. 9am-12pm or 1pm-4pm. £75 per delegate.

– 1st March 2017, Nottingham. 9am-12pm or 1pm-4pm. £75 per delegate.

For more information about iPad, and to book yourself onto our courses, call us on 03332 409 290 or email education@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest technology in education news, reviews and articles, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page.


How to distribute Apple’s free iLife and iWork apps via VPP

How to distribute Apple’s free iLife and iWork apps via VPP

As you may have seen last year, Apple have now made their full range of iLife and iWork apps available for free, meaning you can now get the likes of Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie and iPhoto for nothing! But how do you download and distribute those apps through Apple’s Volume Purchase Programme (VPP)? 

The free apps are available for free on the App Store to all VPP customers with qualifying iOS 7 compatible devices activated or purchased on or after September (that is, more recent iPad, iPhone or iPod touch devices). All you need to do to request content codes for your qualifying devices is fill in the form at the VPP Contact Support page, and they’ll sort you out. Then you can distribute your free apps using Apple Configurator or your mobile device management (MDM) solution.

Just follow these few steps from Apple:

(UPDATE 10/03/14: We just wanted to point out that sending the form by email is just the first step. It raises a support ticket (Apple quote up to five days for a response, but it’s usually quicker). The email dialogue (with serial numbers etc) would then take place via the support ticket/email.)

“1. [Email] a copy of your original sales receipt with the number of eligible devices clearly marked. If the serial numbers are not listed, please include them as well.

2. In five to seven business days, after we verify your information, we’ll send you a password protected file containing your content codes. We’ll send you a separate email shortly after with your password to open the codes file.

3. You can use the iPhoto, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers codes using Apple Configurator or another third party Mobile Device Management (MDM) software. Users can also redeem the codes individually using their Apple IDs.”

If you need any more information on redeeming codes, take a look at our article VPP explained: Educational discounts on iPad apps, or get in touch on the details below.

Want to know more about Apple’s iWork, iLife, and Macs and iPad for the classroom? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 333, email learning@Jigsaw24.com, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page for all the latest technology in education news, reviews and articles.

Education app of the week: Green Screen for iPad

Education app of the week: Green Screen for iPad

Green screen, or chromakeying, techniques have long been popular in the classroom as a way to encourage students to engage with storytelling through role play, and DoInk’s Green Screen app for iPad is an effective and very affordable way of getting started.

What is Green Screen for iPad?

The Green Screen app (DoInk, £1.99) lets you take video from your iPad’s Camera Roll or capture it through the app, then superimpose it on top of other video or still images to create virtual backdrops. It’s really simple to use, and anyone who’s familiar with working with video tracks in iMovie’s timeline should have no problem getting to grips with Green Screen.

Green Screen for iPad

How can it benefit the classroom?

Being able to place yourself in a scene of your own choosing is a great way to fire up students’ imagination. For example, you could recreate a historical scene to engage students with a particular time period in history, get them to play out a scene from a classic novel, create a setting for a news story – the list of creative possibilities is endless.

What’s the best feature?

One great feature of the app is having the ability to superimpose more than one recording onto the original video. This allows you to create layers or ‘conversations’ between characters. Where I’ve seen this idea work very well is in the languages classroom – imagine a dialogue between speakers of two languages, one translating the other. You could also use this idea to recreate dialogue from literary classics.

Where can I get Green Screen?

Green Screen app (DoInk, £1.99) is available from the App Store on your iPad, or you can also download it from iTunes here. It costs £1.99, but buying it through Apple’s Volume Purchase Programme (VPP) entitles you to a 50% reduction when you buy more than 20 instances of the app, which works out at 99p each.

Want to know more about our favourite apps and Apple iPad for the classroom? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 333, email learning@Jigsaw24.com, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page for all the latest technology in education news, reviews and articles.

Education app of the week: Tellagami for iPad

Education app of the week: Tellagami for iPad

Using an ‘avatar’ to speak for you has many uses in the classroom – from simply communicating what you want to say to storytelling and presenting. Tellagami is an iPad app that lets you create and share your message using an animated avatar called a Gami.

What is Tellagami for iPad?

Tellagami (Tellagami Labs Inc, free) is a free iPad app that allows students to communicate through an avatar that they can customise. Text can be recorded live using iPad’s built-in mic or entered into a text editor and then spoken using one of Tellagami’s many built-in voices.

Tellagami app for iPad

Tellagami app for iPad

How can it benefit the classroom?

Tellagami will benefit students who don’t have the confidence to stand up and ‘present’ in front of their peers, but who will be encouraged to share their ideas if someone else (the Gami) speaks for them. It could also be incredibly helpful for any student who has difficulty communicating verbally.

What’s the best feature?

The best thing about Tellagami is its ease of use. Simply customise your Gami, record your message and save as a movie to the Camera Roll, ready for sharing with other apps.

Where can I get it?

Tellagami (Tellagami Labs Inc, free) is available from the App Store on your iPad or from iTunes. Best of all, it’s completely free.

Want to know more about our favourite apps and Apple iPad for the classroom? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 333, email learning@Jigsaw24.com, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page for all the latest technology in education news, reviews and articles.