Recording a predefined basic drum pattern

Music is a powerful tool for expression. This story tells about how popular app Garage band has been used with students with special needs.

TeacherMarkus Diernhofer



School levelOther


The app GarageBand for iPads offers an attractive and motivating user interface. Nevertheless very basic musical skills are needed in order to produce and create tracks. Complex notation or tablature systems are essential if you want to perform an already existing drum track. So the idea is to introduce a pattern, which consists of 16 squares. The squares are arranged in a way that 4 squares are on every side, so that the pattern forms one big square in total, consisting of 16 little squares total. These are filled with defined symbols or blank. The symbol can be simply a dot on an easy level, which stands for a drum hit. The student follows the given pattern to record at first the Snare Drum. Then the pattern, consisting of 16 squares, turns in an angle of 90 degrees to the left and automatically the next pattern is given and the student is able to record the next part of the drum kit, the Kick Drum. The square is then turned around two times more and the student uses these patterns as well to record Open and Closed Hi-Hat. With this simple pattern students can enjoy recording authentic drum beats by using the GarageBand-app, without knowing about notation or tablature systems. Introducing notation or tablature systems is time consuming and that fact was a starting point to my pedagogical idea. Using the described pattern offers you to enable your students to spontaneously work out a given drum beat. The idea grew out of insufficient time resources to introduce a notation system and became a great alternative. This idea can also be developed: the pattern can be expanded by introducing all kind of symbols depending on the simulated instrument. Generally multiple hits can be introduced, as well as symbols for volume and dynamical variations.


The pattern is introduced to the students via the usage of a simple poster. Groups of four are formed and gather around the pattern. Every group has got an individual pattern and is playing the pattern with body percussion. A metronome is used in the background. In the next step the students use GarageBand-app, select the drums and record four parts of the drum kit, one part for one pattern image. The qualities of the GarageBand are highly resourceful. Generally students love to try out all the simulated instruments and sound effects. During the introduction phase the students tried out sounds because they just loved to give it a try. One option would have been to simply let them use their headphones and just try out the sounds for some minutes. I chose to let them put their tablets away and watch the introduction via AppleTV and informed them, that after this phase they would have plenty of time to work on their own and enjoy all the different sounds and instruments.


Music instruments are expensive. The price of GarageBand-app is very reasonable. Tablets were used to simulate all relevant instruments of modern music by using GarageBand. The quality of the digitally offered instruments is very high, so the motivation to use the tablets and create music is remarkable. Further the students learn how to operate an iPad in a playful way. The students got to know tablets as a multifaceted, enriching and funny tool, which can be used in very different situations, in case even to simulate drum kits and percussions, guitars, basses, keyboards, strings, and much more. The methods that were used are easy to understand and can be learned quickly. There are many options to use the app, when it comes to very differentiated learning needs.


Back to success stories