Scoring Movies Using GarageBand

Scoring Movies Using GarageBand

Gregg Winters
[email protected]
Bedford Middle School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments
Music Production


Middle School


General Music


Recent Macintosh computers utilizing GarageBand 3 and iMovie software


80-120 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

If the students are already comfortable using GarageBand and iMovie, the lesson will be quick and easy. If not, both applications will need to be introduced and explained. A working knowledge of these programs is all that is needed.

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
MENC 7: Evaluating music and music performances.
MENC 8: Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.


The materials will depend upon how you do the project. Movie clips in QuickTime format will be needed. If you don’t have any QuickTime movies, students can use iMovie to create them. Once completed, just export the movie as a CD-ROM sized QuickTime file. (This step is necessary because it makes the QuickTime file very small. I’ve found these small files work better in GarageBand by not slowing down the computer.)


The objective for this project is to have the students compose music for a short movie clip. The musical score must contain at least one software instrument (MIDI) track along with audio loops and effects that reinforce the story portrayed on the clip.


1) Teacher preparation – look for popular DVD movies that contain “extra” or “bonus” features. Many of the blockbuster hits have short video interviews (on the “bonus disc) with the composer or document how the music was scored for the picture. The Turner Classic Movies web site ( can also be useful to preview student-composed movie soundtracks. (Time-spare time after you watch a DVD)
2) Either have the students create a movie clip or two (using iMovie) or search the Internet to locate downloadable QuickTime video clips. If the QuickTime clips are larger than 10-15MB, import them into iMovie and convert them into CD-ROM sized QuickTime files (5-6MB or smaller). Large QuickTime movie files will slow down GarageBand and won’t play back smoothly.
3) If appropriate, share some of the DVD composer interviews you found on the movie discs with your class. View appropriate movie clips in class and have the students discuss how the music enhanced telling the story (15-20 minutes)
4) Play the student-created video clips (or the one(s) you selected) for the class and import them into GarageBand.
5) Have the students use GarageBand to score the music.
6) When finished, have them export to either iTunes or as a QuickTime movie to share their clip with the class.


Before beginning the assignment, determine a minimum amount of software instruments (MIDI), audio loops, and audio effects needed to complete the project. A rubric can be created for student assessment purposes.

Follow Up:

Follow this same procedure to have students compose music for a commercial, school announcement, or Podcast.

Items to Purchase:

You will need access to Macintosh computers running GarageBand 3 and iMovie. Movie scoring features are not available in previous versions of GarageBand.

When budget should be submitted:

You will need to contact your technology purchasing department to determine when and how to order what you need.

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