Beginning players need a way to practice with a group. It really helps improve your timing and it’s just generally fun. As an alternate you can play along with audio CDs or find free backing tracks on the internet. There are programs out there like “Band In A Box” that let you create your own backing group by inputing chord progressions, but they’re pretty expensive.Today I’m experimenting with GarageBand on my iPad. It costs only $4.99. Here’s an 8 bar sample.
I’m already familiar with GarageBand. I use it on my MacBook (it comes free). So, it took me no time at all to figure out how to use it on the iPad.
I really love the Smart Instruments. They sound great and make it easy to quickly lay down a few instrument tracks. I first laid down a drum track and then added an acoustic guitar chord progression of C, F, and G. That sounded nice. I played harmonica along with that for a while. Then I attached a small USB MIDI keyboard (the Korg NanoKey) with the iPad’s Camera Connection Kit to see if it would work. Sure enough it did so I added a keyboard track using the external keyboard. I could have used the on-screen keyboard, but it’s much easier to play a real one. Finally I also added a plucked bass using the Smart Bass instrument.I then used my USB Blue Snowflake microphone to record the harmonica track. It’s the purple one at the bottom. Notice I later edited the track to improve the timing. It was really easy to split the track up into small pieces and move them left and right to line them up with the MIDI notes in the tracks above. A few things are missing in the iPad version of GarageBand. You can’t import an audio file into a track. You can’t edit MIDI notes, and you can’t change instruments once you’ve recorded a track (like change a piano to a guitar). Oh, well. Maybe in the next release. Jim