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Ever since its first release, GarageBand has been a great tool for easily creating music for your videos, slide shows, podcasts or just for the sake of the music itself. Whether it's by mixing prerecorded loops together, or recording software instruments or real instruments, it's easy to create music in GarageBand. But recording software and real instruments does require a certain level of musical ability and know-how. If your use of GarageBand has been limited to mixing together prerecorded loops from the loop browser, or displaying simple lines on a keyboard or guitar, you will be thrilled to learn that GarageBand now features built-in lessons to teach you how to play piano and guitar.
You will find GarageBand's built-in lessons in the Project window under Learn to Play. From here you can choose from basic piano lessons or basic guitar lessons. I'll choose Guitar for this example. Tim: Hi, I'm Tim. This is the first in a series of lessons that will help you Tim: learn how to play the guitar. In this one, I'll give you a short introduction Tim: to the instrument and help you get started quickly with some music that's really easy to play. Garrick: So as you can see, GarageBand's lessons takeover the full screen and our buddy, Tim, acts as our video teacher. Notice that we see the fretboard of the guitar across the length of the entire window and as Tim plays the guitar, the finger positions for the chords he is playing will display so you can see exactly how to play the chords yourself.
Let me jump ahead a bit in the lesson by moving the playhead in the timeline. Notice that each portion of the lesson is represented in the timeline, like acoustic guitar, electric guitar, holding the guitar, tuning, picking and strumming, strumming an E chord. So you can jump exactly to the part of the lesson that you want to watch. Let me go ahead and play a little of this for you, where he is showing you how to play an E chord and you will see the actual position show up on this guitar fretboard. Tim: ...string at the first fret and press down.
Tim: Don't press down on the fret itself. Aim for the area just behind it. Tim: Next press your ring finger against the fourth string at the second fret. Tim: Then press your middle finger against the fifth string at the same fret. Garrick: So right there you can see the positions show up very clearly here on the guitar fretboard. It really is just like having someone there to show you where to place your fingers. Even the position of this virtual guitar that we see on the screen is set up to look like what you'd see if you were looking down at the fretboard while playing a guitar.
If you are left-handed, Apple hasn't forgotten about you either. Just click Setup and in here you can check Left- handed Guitar, as well as adjust the other display settings of the lesson, as far as what kind of notation you want to see and the appearance on screen. Whether you want to see notation and instrument, instrument only or notation only. Notice there are keyboard shortcuts for each of these appearance settings so you can easily switch among them while you are in your lesson. I'm going to click Done. In addition to just watching the lesson, you can also play along with the lesson, along with the full backing band, once you feel you are ready to do so. Just move your mouse over the video and you can choose Play.
(Guitar strumming.) And here you get a split screen view of the instructor playing. (Guitar strumming plus backing music.) You can even choose the angle of the right display to get a different view of the action. (Music playing.) Now if the song is moving too fast for you to play along with, use the Speed slider to decrease the playback. Notice that GarageBand will mute the instructor's voice if you reduce the speed of the playback.
(Music playing, more slowly.) And you can continue to slow that down, (Music playing, more slowly.) or pull it back up to full speed. (Music fades out.) Probably the coolest part about playing along with the lessons is the ability to mix the song while the song is playing. Let me go ahead and play it again.
(Music playing.) Click Mixer and here you can adjust the levels of the teacher's voice, the teacher's guitar, the backing band or even your own instrument. So if I wanted to reduce the sound at the backing band, so I could hear the teacher's guitar a little bit better, I could do so. (Music playing, guitar more prominent.) Or if I'm playing along and I want to reduce the sound of the teacher's guitar, I can drop that out of the mix, and mix my own instrument higher. (Music playing.) And then we can turn off the Mixer.
If you want a chance to add your own tracks to the song you are learning, click Open in GarageBand and then you are free to mix, edit, and add to the song as much as you like. Now GarageBand comes with just the basic guitar and piano lessons installed, but there are a lot more lessons available by going back to the Project window, and choosing File > New and then select the Lessons Store. Here in the Lessons Store, you can download additional guitar and piano lessons completely for free. Just browse through, find the lesson you want, and then click Download. You will get a message thanking you for choosing a Learn to Play Lesson from the GarageBand Lesson Store, and then you click Download to download a file. I'm just going to cancel out of that for the moment.
While you are here in the Lessons Store, be sure to check out the Artists Lessons section. In this section you will find special lessons in which professional and often famous musicians teach you how to play versions of some of their most famous songs. Now unlike the basic lessons, these lessons cost $4.99 each, but if you are a fan of Ben Folds, Sting, John Fogerty, or any of the other artists represented here, you'll probably want to pay the nominal fee to see the original artist show you how to play his or her song. Each of these lessons also includes clips where the artist tells you the story behind the creation of the song you are learning. So it really is almost like getting a private lesson from a major recording artist, and that's the gist of the new Learn to Play feature of GarageBand '09.
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