Digital audio workstations are widely used softwares for music production. These softwares are able to record, edit and manipulate music, various sounds and sound effects and the finish product is saved as an audio file. Some widely used DAWs include, Garageband, Ableton Live, Cubase, ProTools, Logic and FL Studio. A large sound library available means that we can choose from many instruments and sounds to experiment with. This provides an excellent opportunity to incorporate a DAW in music education in activities such as compositional tasks. Students can be given a simple task and beginners can just will be able to express themselves in a tech-savvy way and get crafty with their ideas. The fact that the finished wok is saved as an audio file means that students are able to easily share their creations online.
Lets have a look at a DAW called Garageband. Garageband comes with most Apple products and is an all rounder software. It is quite basic and user-friendly which makes it a perfect candidate for classroom music teaching! You definitely don’t want something that is too complex for students as that might detract from the learning experience.
A simple task for students to explore sounds and get familiar working with a DAW is a “Looping” compositional activity. Loops don’t have to be long, in fact they work quite well when they are quite short as the repetition inherently creates its own structure and rhythm. Through a looping compositional activity, students learn and experience structure, texture, rhythm and composing their own melodies. The teacher can first scaffold by showing students how to create a track and where to choose sounds and then inform students to create 4 tracks and allocate each part a different role, for example, a beat, a back beat, bass-line and a melody or two. Garageband also offers drummers and 18 sessions players with many drum styles in many genres such as rock, pop and rhythm and blues. If available, students can also connect a midi keyboard to the computer or laptop that they are working on and compose on a keyboard with more flexibility. Students can click into what they have recorded and edit the track by “quantising” which makes sure that each rhythm is precise if played off time. Students can cut and edit, add reverb or phasing and do as they wish.
Overall, working through the DAW is a useful tool and shifts the compositional task to the computer and allows students to experience the way how electronic and pop music is produced.