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So You Have a DAW; Now What? Ideas to Get Started!

Updated: Jan 28

So you've got your DAW, you've read my previous blog post about them, and you may have picked up my book, but now what? You chose the one that would work best for your learners but have no idea where to begin. Don't worry, try these easy activities and projects to get you and your groups started off on the right foot.

Blue banner that reads "So You Have a DAW; Now What? Ideas to Get Started" with a workstation screen in the background.
So you have your Digital Audio Workstation. Now What? Some great ideas to get started.


Using BandLab for Education, Soundtrap for Education, or GarageBand Live Loops learners can create fantastic music in--quite literally--seconds. Show learners the basics of how to drag and drop a loop into place and how it lines up with the grid. In the case of Live Loops, show learners how to launch a loop and what happens when another loop is added to the grid. Once you've given them the basics and explain how it works, give learners the chance to experiment and explore with dragging, dropping, and launching loops. This is where the best learning happens because I find that we learn how to fix issues together. Often, the learners will solve problems for me and I find myself asking them how to fix the issue. This approach is especially useful if you as the facilitator are somewhat unfamiliar with the software. You don't need to know everything before you begin because you will learn it together. Give them ample time to experiment and create.

Tips for Success
A track indicating which icon is for looping and which is not.
The difference between the loop and not loop!

  • For BandLab or Soundtrap, make sure learners know the difference between how to repeat a loop and how to trim a loop. This will be a very helpful skill when they are experimenting and doing their next bit.

Where to find the loops and the packs

Loop Composition

Once you know learners are comfortable with how the loop function works, have them compose a piece of music. Choose a form. I often choose ABA because it is simple and relatively easy to understand for most learners as young as 6 years old. Composing doesn't have to be difficult; give learners minimal parameters so they don't feel too restricted when they are composing. The only parameters I give learners is that it has to be in ABA form and they have to find a way to end it that makes sense.

For Live Loops (GarageBand for iPad), composing happens in real time, so having learners create something that they can perform but might be slightly different each time would be ideal. Have them plan out a road map and see what happens. Sometimes the best music happens in spontaneity.


How to end their work:

BandLab DAW screen with the automation icon circled in red.