What is an iBand?
iBand is the very cool name given to an iPad music ensemble. A software instrument ensemble played exclusively on the iPad. Keep reading, because in this post we will show you how to create your very own iBand!
Take a moment to search this term on Youtube. You will find a range of different bands, lessons and groups, playing cover songs or original music.
As an educator there’s something to learn from each video. We have a range of iBand performances available to view on our Youtube channel
Build your own iBand
Firstly you need to consider which apps will suit your music best. Is your aim to recreate acoustic or electronic sounds, will you be using loops or playing live? In the videos linked in this post, we exclusively used GarageBand.
Let’s assume you’ve ticked the iPad box, you may want to consider amplification. You have three options.
- Use the speaker built into the iPad. We have used the built in speakers on a number of occasions. These work best with bright instruments like guitars, piano and strings, in a smaller room. Playing a bass or similar instrument in a large hall through these tiny speakers is not going to work. Shock!
- Use a headphone splitter. You can connect multiple iPads to a single speaker using this hack. Often classrooms have wall mounted speakers, you can use this connector to join the headphone splitter to your classroom audio cable.
- Connect a small mini speaker . There’s a massive variety of these available on the market. Just ensure that the speaker you choose has a 3.5mm cable connection. Bluetooth has a time delay between pressing the software instrument and the sound that comes from the speaker. We always use a cable to connect. ( Remember speakers have to be stored, charged and handled with care )
- Sound system. Finally, some of you may have the ability to connect to a sound system . This may be a luxury but will produce the best sound quality by far. If your band is 4 or 5 strong its relatively easy to set up. Simply purchase a cable with a small connector for the iPad and a large connector for the sound system.
Choose your music
Cover song- You have all the technical aspects of your iBand covered. Now it’s time to decide what music you’re going to play. We suggest you aim for something that can be translated well to software instruments. A complex classical arrangement might not be the best place to start. Though we managed a remix of Gymnopedie by Eric Satie
We delivered two short iPad music projects with a year 4 and 5 class. The pupils loved learning to play simple pop songs. If you’re wondering “how do I learn the song”, it’s easy: visit Guitar tabs which provides the chords and lyrics to a huge variety of popular songs. Have your iPad handy and play along on a smart guitar or keyboard. (You need to set the chords on your iPad in GarageBand)
Watch & Learn
Imitation is flattery
Here is one of our live iPad music covers. ‘Thinking Out Loud’ by Ed Sheeran.
In this arrangement we have 1 iPad playing a beat. The other 30 iPads are split into instrument groups. Bass, guitar, piano and strings. We invited another class to form a choir and accompany us. Finally we added a couple of solos (1:50).
The bass, guitar, strings and keys are all being played live. It’s amazing what can be done when you use the iPad as a music education tool. I don’t know of any other tuned instrument lesson that produces these results in a matter of weeks!
You have your equipment and apps ready to go, you have selected a song, now get rehearsing. Practise, practise, practise! When you can play with a sense of musicality, perform your work. Share your creation with us!
If you want your iPad music class to flow well, familiarise yourself with the musical material before each session, learn to play all the parts fluently.
Watch a how to play video and build your iPad musicianship. Here’s one we prepared for you earlier. Take a moment and complete this 15 min tutorial as part of your continued professional development. The great thing about iPad music is that you can do this in the staff room, on your commute, or in bed after a long day. iPad music is all about simplicity and creativity in the palm of your hand!
If you have already established an iBand and want to take your iPad music to the next level, then try one of our tailored resources for iPad music tutors. Music Hands – iPad Music Resources
- Choose your apps
- Prep the equipment
- Select a song