Whether you’re playing an acoustic into your Mac’s mic, plugging in an electric or learning to play the piano, GarageBand makes a great tutor. Free with your app are a couple of introductory lessons for piano and guitar, which you can try out right now. They come in two parts – Learn and Play – so you can watch an instructor show you how it’s done in a video, with the help of fret and key maps, tablature and chord diagrams.
Then you have a go yourself, and afterwards you’ll receive feedback on how well you did. Once you’re up and strumming, you’ll find that the Lesson Store is packed with everything you need, from chord and scale trainers through to blues masterclasses and even lessons from Sting.
Step 1: Head to the store
Fire up GarageBand and select Learn to Play from the sidebar. You’ll see a first free lesson in both the Guitar and Piano categories. To get more, click on Lesson Store and choose Guitar.
Step 2: Look for lessons
You’ll see Rock, Blues and Basic categories. If you’ve made the in-app purchase for GarageBand’s loops and sounds bundle, all the Basic lessons will be free to download.
Step 3: Learn from the best
Click the Artist tab at the top to switch to the Artist Lessons. They’re a little pricer but packed full of extra content that you wouldn’t normally get, like the song’s story.
Step 4: Get ready to start
Once you’ve downloaded a lesson, head back over to Learn to Play. Choose your type of lesson (Guitar, Piano or Artist), then select a lesson and hit Choose to proceed.
Step 5: Meet the instructor
The lesson will then open up in full screen, and the video instructor will begin speaking. You can skip to any section of a lesson using the named markers above the play/pause button.
Step 6: See from every angle
When the instructor plays something, you will see musical diagrams appear in the space below – chord charts, guitar tablature, musical notation – as well as fret or key maps at the bottom.
Step 7: Customise the diagrams
Whatever is shown alongside the video is usually automatic, but you can change that by clicking the very top-right button and changing the setting. Here we’ve gone for a tab and notation.
Step 8: Show what you’ve learned
At the end of the Learn part of the lesson, or if you pause the video, you’ll see a Play option appear. Click it and, once you hit record, you can play along in time.
Step 9: Changing the input device
GarageBand should recognise whatever you plug in, but if not then click Setup at the top- right. Here you can make all kinds of settings, including a Line-in option for your electric.