Learn to Play an Instrument in GarageBand

Have you been itching to learn to play an instrument since you were a kid? On your Mac, GarageBand sends you on your way to your first gig by teaching you guitar or piano. Start by clicking Learn to Play from GarageBand’s opening screen and choose Guitar Lessons or Piano Lessons. You also find an Artist Lessons option, but skip that for the moment.

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You have to visit the Lesson Store to download the Basic Lessons that you get as part of iLife.

Connect a USB or MIDI-compatible keyboard or guitar, depending on your choice of lessons.

In each full-screen lesson, an instructor demonstrates his or her craft. Lessons start simple and become more challenging as you progress.

Lessons include a video glossary and a mixer (to change how you hear the teacher, instruments in GarageBand, or your own instrument). You also find a setup button that leads to options that differ depending on the instrument you’re using. If you’re learning guitar, you also see a separate tuner button.

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A How Did I Play? feature answers that very question with gentle visual feedback. You can check a progress bar that gives you a numeric score; GarageBand keeps a history of your progress. It’s like having a music teacher inside your Mac.

If you want your music teacher to be a real headliner, check out the Lessons Store and click Artist Lessons. Sting teaches you to play “Roxanne,” and Norah Jones explains techniques in “Thinking About You.” Each artist lesson costs $4.99. You can sample an excerpt from these lessons and other artist lessons before purchasing them.

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