GarageBand (2): Learn to Play
Garageband now has a new and useful feature of music lessons. This was well received when it was introduced, but there is much more to this feature than was initially demonstrated. There is a series of basic lessons bundled with the iLife installation. The first is pre-installed and the others can be downloaded.
Anyone familiar with Apple's online tutorials presented by their own staff, will recognise the easy-going but in-control style used here. The piano and guitar lessons are taught by Tim Blane, a musician from Boston, who was one of several hundred who applied. He was apparently hand-picked by Steve Jobs for the task.
At the bottom of the screen is a keyboard which highlights the finger positions as music is played. There are also a number of other controls, such as the metronome, speed, playback controls and volume.
There are also two more icons at the bottom of the screen: Change Lesson; and Open in Garageband which switches to the normal interface with the loops used in the Play section displayed ready for the learner to play more music.
The Change Lesson icon depends on lessons downloaded. If there are none, the user is taken to the start panel and a text offers to connect to the Apple Lesson Store to download these. Another eight piano lessons and eight guitar lessons are available and may be downloaded in any order. One of the lessons I selected was some 246MB so these may take a while to download. As with all good teaching, students are reminded of earlier lessons.
These downloadable lessons are part of the GarageBand package and are available (free) to anyone who buys iLife '09 or a new Mac: iLife is part of the standard installation. However, the much-touted Artist Lessons at $4.99 each are not available in Thailand.
These extra lessons feature recording artists who perform and explain the mechanics of the songs they wrote. Brief introductions from the artists may be viewed online at the Apple GarageBand pages, where we find currently there are nine artists, including John Fogerty, who talks about Proud Mary; and Sting, with Roxanne.
Learn to Play makes this application both enjoyable and useful. The lessons and other features may be seen online.
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