Tag Archives: technology

Use Garageband “Loops” as a super-funky metronome!

It’s important for music students to learn to play or sing to a steady beat.  Why not swap your standard metronome for one of Garageband’s fun loops with this super easy project?

1.  Create a new Garageband “Loops” project.

While you can add "metronome loops" into any of these kinds of projects, it's easier to start with a Loops one.

While you can add “metronome loops” into any of these kinds of projects, it’s easier to start with a Loops one.

2.  Select the loop you want to use.

If you create a new “Loops” project, the loop window will open automatically; otherwise, click the “loops” icon in the lower right hand corner of the screen to open the menu.

loops button

I recommend using percussion-only tracks for a metronome, so you don’t have to worry about the key of the piece, so begin to select your track by clicking on one of the percussion filters in the loops list.  (“Beats” is a great place to start.)  To hear what the loop sounds like before adding it to the Garageband timeline, simply click it’s name in the lower part of the window (highlighted in blue).

pick a loop

3.  Add your chosen loop to the Garageband timeline by dragging it there.  Then “repeat” the loop, by dragging the upper right hand corner of the loop to the right for as many repetitions as you want.

Hint:  your cursor should turn into a circular arrow when you hover it over the upper right hand corner of a loop on the timeline.  Click from there and drag to the right to repeat the loop over and over.

add and repeat loops

Since you are not creating an actual “song,” but a metronome, you do not have to be exact with your number of repetitions; just stretch it out for LONG WAYS.

4.  If you want to experiment with different metronome tracks, add different loops below your first and repeat the “looping” step (3) above.  

Hint:  If you have multiple loops on your timeline, you will have to make sure the loop you want played is “solo” — click the little headphones icon to hear only one track at a time.  Re-click the headphones icon to silence the track or turn off solo mode.

This allows you to have multiple "metronomes" in a single Garageband project.

This allows you to have multiple “metronomes” in a single Garageband project.

5.  Experiment with changes of tempo if desired.

Switch the blue “status” bar at the bottom of the screen to “Project”

switch to project

then, use the slider bar to change the tempo.

change tempo slider

6.  You can play your metronome straight from Garageband, or export the files to iTunes if you wish.

Happy Metronome-ing!

Software used:  GarageBand ’11, Version 6.05


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Use GarageBand to Teach Time Signatures

It’s not used very often by those who use GarageBand primarily for pop/rock/hiphop songwriting, but did you know that GarageBand lets you choose between at least 10 different time signatures when creating music?

Because of the instinctive way GarageBand translates music into a visual medium, it can be a great tool for exploring and teaching various time signatures.

Here are some ideas for using GarageBand to explore the concept of Time Signatures:

  1. Open up the loops screen, and explore various loops available for each time signature.  Then students can:

    • conduct along with various loops
    • guess the time signature from the sound.
    • improvise either with instruments, body percussion, or vocals to various time signatures


  • The green/midi loops generally represent time signatures more faithfully than the blue/”real” loops.
  • Some of the more obscure time signatures do not have pre-created loops.  You can create your own loops in any time signature by recording and selecting a short phrase to be looped and selecting “Add to Loop Library” from the Edit Menu.
  • Not all default loops are accurate representations of their time signature.  You may want to explore loops ahead of time, marking those you want to use as “Favorites.”

2.  Record students performing previously-learned or simple new songs in one or more time signatures.

You can use background loops as an accompaniment or just use the Metronome to keep in tempo.

3.  Include “measures” in your discussion by looking at the measure markings ruler at the top of the screen.

(Hint:  Make sure the viewing icon is set on “Project,” “Chord,” or “Measures” — if it is set to display “Time,” you will not be able to see the measure markings at the top of the timeline area.)  Notice how there is a larger line for the downbeat and smaller lines for the other beats.

4.  Add loops of various time signatures to the Loop Library.

Create a loop or ostinato for every time signature (or at least the ones you want to focus on in class) and add it to your Loop Library by selecting “Add to Loop Library” from the Edit Menu.

5.  Have students draw their own visual representation of Time Signatures.

Students can create their own Time Signature Cheat Sheet by drawing their own Time Signature Ruler (like that at the top of the song window) on a sheet of paper or poster board for one or more time signatures.  (Option:  these could be created using a computer draw program)

6.  Turn a marker or chalkboard into a real-life GarageBand window.

Divide the window into beats with a “beat ruler” and then use construction paper to create loops or phrases in various time signatures to create a visual and tactile representation of the concept.


Software used:  GarageBand ’09, Version 5.1

Amanda Louise Miller is pursuing an MM in Music Composition at Oklahoma City University.
She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and extensive experience working in online learning and faculty development.

Contact her at amandalouisemiller@gmail.com 

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