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How to Run a Music Workshop

Earlier this year, Bare Conductive got the opportunity to plan and run a music workshop as part of Apple’s exciting, new in-store tutorial program – ‘Today at Apple‘. But what does it take to run a successful musical creative session?

The first step in planning any workshop is to decide what participants will achieve and how. We collaborated with the Apple staff to establish the key goal: a hands-on musical experience using Bare Conductive hardware with Apple’s digital audio workstation app, GarageBand.

With this in mind, the Touch Board with its MIDI controller function was the perfect hardware candidate. By pairing the Touch Board with printed sensors, made with Electric Paint, and connecting it to GarageBand via iPads, we wanted to create the first ever “Electric Paint Orchestra”.

The plan for the session was to start by introducing the audience to Bare Conductive and its technology; we gave a brief Keynote presentation describing the company history, showcasing the technology and illustrating the range of project possibilities. We presented the aims and objectives as well as the agenda for the rest of the workshop.

Goals:
To use printed electronics with GarageBand to create a musical masterpiece

Objectives:
– Learn the basics of GarageBand
– Learn how to use the Touch Board and printed sensors
– Create a track, consisting of several layers
– Take part in the “Electric Paint Orchestra”

To achieve these objectives, we planned two activities for the session; the first was to introduce participants to the basics of GarageBand on the iPad, with expert guidance from the Apple team. Each pair would then demonstrate what they learned, creating their own multi-layer music track. Once completed, the group gave a debut performance of their track to show off their new skills, with really excellent and diverse results.

We then introduced participants to the basics of the Touch Board and printed sensors. The groups were guided in setting up their equipment, connecting a printed sensor to the hardware. By showing photographs of the set-up on a screen, we provided an additional visual aid.

We made sure everyone understood the basics of GarageBand and had successfully set up and used their equipment, before moving on to the second activity: Playing an instrument in a group performance of ‘Billie Jean’ as part of the “Electric Paint Orchestra”.

In preparation, we made printed sensors representing the different orchestra sections by screen-printing with Electric Paint three different instrument designs (piano, string, and drum). We also made sure to seal the sensors to avoid smudging. For convenience, the correct instruments were also pre-set on GarageBand in advance to make finding the right instrument easier on the day.

Pairs with the same printed sensor instrument were split into their orchestra sections and given 5 to 10 minutes to learn their part; Our team and the Apple staff were on hand for support and any last minute coaching. Once everyone felt that they could confidently play their part, the grand finale could begin – the drums made a start by setting the beat, then the piano was brought in and finally strings. At one point there was even some funky improvisation, with one participant bravely taking on the lyrics.

Orchestrating a hands-on, whole group activity to wrap the session up was good fun and a great way to demonstrate progress and learning. We even received a ripple of applause from an audience of curious Apple Store customers that had gathered around the workshop.

At the end of the session, the floor was opened up for questions and participants were encouraged to document and share their experience on social media.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your music workshop with the Touch Board, Electric Paint and GarageBand. We have the Touch Board Workshop Pack that makes running a workshop with the Touch Board straightforward! No screen-printing capabilities? Why not use our ready-made Printed Sensors and cut them to shape to suit your activity.

If you don’t know where to start from, our Planning and Learning a Workshop blog post will help you organise your time and run great electronics workshops.

Lastly, if you have a workshop you’ve facilitated and want to share, we’d love to see it! Share your images and a brief explanation of it with us at info@bareconductive.com.