Songlabs – making music for kids

Songlabs logoWhat are Songlabs?


Songlabs are hands-on, music making workshops for primary school children.

Using the Garageband app on iPads, kids explore the basics of song writing and music production. They’ll learn to write, arrange, record, mix and share their own songs..

Their tutor, Jim Cullinane is a teacher and children’s songwriter who uses a Digital DIY approach so kids are able to create their own meaningful media rather than just consume other people’s.

Songlabs are an engaging and fun way to learn about the recording process, integrating ICT, literacy and music together with a host of other possible learning areas.



How do SONGLABS work in schools?

Songlabs work best with groups up to 20 students and run as two-hour modules:

Module 1: Getting to Grips with Garageband.

Introduces children to basic recording concepts, genres and song structure. Together, we’ll learn how to build up our own song from scratch using loops and some easy to play, inbuilt instruments on the iPad. They don’t need to be able to play an instrument to make a cool song on Garageband – anyone can do it.

Module 2: Going Further with Garageband

Once we know the basics, it’s time to take it to another level and look at new instruments we can play on the iPad and different ways to record real instruments (like guitars, violins, recorders and ukuleles). We will also look at mixing our songs, which means making all the different instruments sound good together. Here we discover the humble little iPad is almost a fully-fledged recording studio that can fit into your schoolbag. It can be set up as a mobile recording studio to capture clean audio for plays, choirs, orchestras or ukuleles.

What do the children learn?

Through songlabs, children build on their musical knowledge and can learn about song structure, key signatures, chord progressions, rhythm, harmony and melody. Listening back, they can critique their work, and continue to edit and improve their songs too.

We can tie-in workshops to current topics. We’ve made school songs, soundtracks to videos, an opera about the water cycle and even had new entrants doing a rap about the habitat of the kiwi.

Songlabs are NZC friendly, integrating many learning areas such as the science of sound, numeracy and literacy and there are lots of key competencies at work too, including relating to others, participating, contributing and collaboration within their bands (even dealing with ‘creative differences’).

Songlabs PD training sessions for teachers after school are also available.

For more information on songlabs, or video and eBook workshops, please contact Jim on the form below.

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