How to Open the Keyboard in GarageBand

How to Open the Keyboard in GarageBand?: A Quick Guide

Opening the keyboard in GarageBand is a vital step when composing music on a Mac device. However, navigating around the app to locate the keyboard can be tiresome, especially for beginners. In this article, I’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to open the keyboard in GarageBand on a Mac device.

Firstly, it is essential to ensure that the GarageBand app is already installed on your device. You can download it from the App Store if need be. Once the installation is complete, open the app to start the process. To open the keyboard in GarageBand, you will need to select a new project or open an existing one.

After opening the project, navigate to the bottom right corner of the screen and click on the icon that resembles a keyboard. Doing so will open up the keyboard and display the musical notes representing various keys you can play. Understanding how to open the keyboard is a significant step when starting to compose music using GarageBand, and this guide has just made it that much easier. Keep reading for more helpful tips on how to use GarageBand to make music.

Locating the Keyboard Button in GarageBand

GarageBand has several ways to create music, but one of the easiest and most popular methods is using the virtual keyboard. The virtual keyboard is a piano-like interface that allows users to add notes, chords, and melodies to their music productions.

To access the virtual keyboard in GarageBand, first, you need to locate the Keyboard button. Here’s how to find it:

  • Open GarageBand on your Mac or iPad.
  • Create a new project or open an existing one.
  • Locate the Control button (on the left side of the screen on a Mac or on the top right corner of the iPad screen).
  • Click or tap the Control button to display the Control menu.
  • From the menu, select Keyboard (it has an icon of a keyboard).

A virtual keyboard interface will appear on your screen once you’ve located and clicked on the Keyboard button. The Virtual Keyboard can compose your track, add chords, or play melodies.

The virtual keyboard is also customizable. To adjust the size of the keys, click or tap on the three-bar icon on the right side of the keyboard. You can also change the color of the keys by clicking or tapping on the color palette icon (the one with a circle and three dots).

In addition, GarageBand also allows users to connect MIDI keyboards or use the musical typing feature to add a more realistic feel to their music projects. You can access these features by clicking the MIDI button or the musical typing button next to the Keyboard button.

Opening Keyboard

When starting a new project in GarageBand, you may be wondering how to access the keyboard feature. The keyboard allows you to play and record virtual instruments using your computer keyboard. To open the keyboard, you will need to click on the Keyboard button.

  • First, open GarageBand and create a new project or select an existing one.
  • Locate the control bar at the top of the screen. The control bar contains various buttons that allow you to access different features, such as the library, editor, and keyboard.
  • Look for the Keyboard button, which is represented by a picture of a keyboard. It is typically located toward the middle of the control bar.
  • Click on the Keyboard button to open the virtual keyboard.

Once you click the Keyboard button, the keyboard will appear on your screen. You can use your computer keyboard to play and record notes. Each key on your keyboard corresponds to a different note, allowing you to create melodies and chords.

In addition to playing and recording with the keyboard feature, you can also customize the sound of the virtual instruments using various settings and effects within GarageBand. By experimenting with these features, you can create unique and professional-quality tracks.

Adjusting the Keyboard Settings

Now that you know how to open the keyboard in GarageBand, it’s time to take a look at the different settings you can adjust to get the most out of your music-making experience. Here are a few ways to customize your keyboard:

1. Octave Range

The keyboard spans five octaves by default, which is ideal for most music styles. However, you can easily adjust the range to fit your particular needs.

To adjust the range:

  • Click on the “View” menu and select “Show Keyboard” if not already shown.
  • Click and hold on to the octave control button located on the left side of the keyboard.
  • Move your mouse up or down to choose a new range.

2. Velocity Sensitivity

Velocity sensitivity allows you to control the loudness of each note based on how hard or soft you press the key. This helps add more expression to your music.

To adjust the velocity sensitivity:

  • Click on the “Control” menu and select “Keyboard” to bring up the Keyboard control window.
  • Drag the “Velocity Sensitivity” slider to the left or right to adjust the sensitivity.

3. Root Key

The root key determines which key on the keyboard corresponds to the key of the instrument. This is useful when you want to play a specific melody or chord progression.

To adjust the root key:

  • Click on the “Control” menu and select “Keyboard” to bring up the Keyboard control window.
  • Drag the “Root Key” slider to the left or right to adjust the root note.

4. Scale

GarageBand comes with a variety of pre-made scales, including major, minor, pentatonic, and more. This helps ensure your notes are always in key and sound harmonious.

To adjust the scale:

  • Click on the “Control” menu and select “Keyboard” to bring up the Keyboard control window.
  • Click on the “Scale” pop-up menu and choose a new scale from the list.

Adjusting the keyboard settings can help you get the most out of your music-making experience in GarageBand. Experiment with different settings to find what works best for you and your sound.
There are a few steps to follow in choosing a keyboard instrument in GarageBand. First, select the software instrument track and click on the keyboard icon in the smart controls section. This will open the on-screen keyboard.

Once the keyboard is open, you can choose the keyboard type from various options. The default option is the grand piano, but you can choose from a variety of other options, such as electric pianos, organs, synthesizers, and more.

To choose a different keyboard instrument, click on the drop-down menu at the top left corner of the on-screen keyboard. Scroll down to see all the available options and click on the one you want to use.

After selecting the keyboard instrument, you can customize its sound by adjusting its settings. Each instrument has its own set of parameters, such as volume, attack, release, and more. To adjust these, click the smart controls button and make your changes.

It’s important to note that the keyboard instrument you choose will affect the sound of your composition. So, it’s crucial to experiment with different options and choose the one that best fits the mood and style of your project.

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Exploring the Keyboard Interface

As you open the virtual piano keyboard in GarageBand, you will be presented with a clean and organized interface. The keyboard app can be accessed from the ‘Smart Controls’ panel or by simply clicking on the keyboard icon on the main screen.

Here is a breakdown of the main components of the keyboard interface:

  • Octave Selector: The octave selector is located at the top left corner of the keyboard interface. Here, you can adjust the pitch range of the virtual keyboard by moving it up or down.
  • Keyboard Display: The keyboard display shows you the actual notes of the piano keyboard. The notes that light up when you play show you the currently pressed notes.
  • Velocity Slider: The Velocity Slider, located on the right side of the interface, determines the speed at which each note is played. This is useful for adjusting the dynamics of your music.
  • Sustain Button: The Sustain button is at the keyboard interface’s bottom center. This button enables your played notes to be held for a longer period of time.
  • Touch Bar: The Touch Bar, located at the top of the keyboard interface, displays an array of useful options for users with a MacBook Pro. With the Touch Bar extension, you can quickly access musical scales, instruments, effects, and more.

In addition to these components, the interface offers a good user experience with its simple navigation and easy-to-use interface. From this interface, you can easily create beautiful melodies and chord progressions. You can also change the sound of the virtual keyboard by adjusting the instrument bank, which offers various options, such as Grand Pianos, Electrics Pianos, Clavinets, Harpsichords, and more.

Using the Keyboard with a MIDI Controller in GarageBand

When it comes to creating music in GarageBand, using a MIDI controller with the keyboard is a great way to enhance your creativity. In this section, I will explain how to use a MIDI controller with the keyboard in GarageBand.

  • Connect your MIDI controller to your computer

First and foremost, connecting your MIDI controller to your computer is essential. Check if your MIDI controller comes with a USB cable. If not, you’ll need to buy a MIDI to USB adapter to connect your MIDI controller to your computer.

  • Enable the MIDI controller in GarageBand

Once you’ve connected your MIDI controller to your computer, you’ll need to enable it in GarageBand. In GarageBand, go to “Preferences” and select “Audio/MIDI.” Under the “MIDI” tab, select the “Input” option for your MIDI controller.

  • Record MIDI notes

After enabling your MIDI controller, it’s time to record MIDI notes. In GarageBand, create a new track and select the keyboard instrument. Once you’re ready to record, click on the red “Record” button, and start playing on your MIDI controller. You can edit the MIDI notes precisely by dragging and dropping them on the track.

  • Choose the right sound for your Keyboard

When using your MIDI controller with the GarageBand keyboard, it’s essential to select the right sound that matches the music you’re creating. In GarageBand, you can choose from a variety of keyboard sounds, including piano, organ, synth, and more.

  • Play with other Instruments

One of the advantages of using a MIDI controller with the keyboard in GarageBand is that you can play with other virtual instruments. You can easily add drum machines, synthesizers, and bass to your music to create a dynamic and cohesive sound.

Using a MIDI controller with the keyboard in GarageBand can elevate your music creation experience. Following the steps outlined above, you can seamlessly integrate a MIDI controller into your workflow and create unique and exciting music.

Recording with the Keyboard in GarageBand

When recording with the keyboard in GarageBand, there are a few important factors to consider. First, make sure your MIDI keyboard is connected and turned on. Then, select the track you want to record on and enable the recording function.

Keyboard in GarageBand

Once you’ve set up your recording environment, it’s time to start playing. Ensure your keyboard is set to the correct octave range and that you use the appropriate sound or instrument. You can also adjust the volume settings and add different effects to enhance your recordings.

To start recording, press the “R” key on your keyboard or click on the red circle record button in GarageBand. You’ll see the software begin to record your playing in real-time. When you’re finished, stop the recording by pressing the space bar or clicking the stop button.

Once you’ve recorded your track, you can easily edit and refine it in GarageBand. You can add new layers, change the timing, adjust the volume levels, and apply different effects to give your recording a unique and professional sound.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when recording with the keyboard in GarageBand:

  • Experiment with different instruments and sounds to find the perfect match for your recording.
  • Use the volume and effects settings to create dynamic changes in your track.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – sometimes, the best recordings come from experimentation.
  • Use GarageBand’s editing tools to fine-tune your recordings and create a polished final product.

By following these tips and techniques, you can create high-quality recordings with the keyboard in GarageBand. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, this powerful software offers endless possibilities for musical creation and production.

Editing and Fine-tuning Keyboard Recordings in GarageBand

Now that you know how to open the keyboard in GarageBand and record your melodies, it’s time to dive into how to edit and fine-tune your keyboard recordings. The software provides extensive features to help refine your recordings and achieve a polished final product.

  1. Editing notes

GarageBand offers several editing tools to help you change the length, position, or pitch of your recorded notes. For example, you can select a note and move it up or down to adjust its pitch or increase or decrease its duration by dragging the bar at its end.

  1. Quantization

Quantization allows you to correct the timing of notes that are out of sync with your recording’s tempo. You can apply quantization to a specific region or the entire track, and GarageBand provides several options, ranging from extreme precision to more human-like grooves.

  1. Velocity and dynamics

The velocity of a note determines its volume, and GarageBand provides an easy way to adjust it using the velocity bar. Besides, you can adjust the dynamics of your recording to bring it to life and make it sound more authentic. GarageBand also provides plenty of control over the intensity and duration of individual notes, so you can create more nuanced performances.

  1. Using plugins

GarageBand comes packed with multiple plugins that offer a broad range of effects to add to your recordings. GarageBand provides many options, from guitar amplifiers to reverb and chorus, making it easy to add extra sparkle to your music.

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Adding Effects to Keyboard Recordings

Once you have recorded a Keyboard track, you may want to add some effects to enhance the sound or give it a particular style. GarageBand offers a range of effects that you can apply to your recordings, from basic EQ and reverb to more complex plugins like distortion and phaser. In this section, I’ll show you how to add effects to a Keyboard recording and provide some tips to make the most of them.

Keyboard in GarageBand
  • Select the Keyboard track in the timeline: To add effects to a Keyboard recording, you first need to select the track in the timeline. You can do this by clicking on the track name or selecting it with your mouse. Once the track is highlighted, you can proceed to the next step.
  • Open the Smart Controls panel: To access the effects options, open the Smart Controls panel. You can do this by clicking on the Smart Controls button in the top-right corner of the GarageBand window or selecting it from the View menu. Once the panel is open, you will see a range of options for the selected track.
  • Choose an effect and adjust the settings: In the Smart Controls panel, you will see a section for effects with a list of available plugins. You can browse through the options and select an effect to apply to your Keyboard recording. Once you have selected an effect, you can adjust the settings to achieve the desired sound. GarageBand provides a range of parameters that you can tweak, such as gain, EQ, and modulation.
  • Use presets for quick results: If you’re not sure how to set up the effects manually, you can use the presets provided by GarageBand. Simply click on the drop-down menu next to the effect and select a preset that matches the tone you’re going for. GarageBand provides a variety of presets for different genres and moods, so you’re sure to find something that works for you.

Experiment and have fun! The beauty of adding effects to your Keyboard recordings is that it allows you to be creative and experiment with different sounds. Don’t be afraid to try out different plugins, combinations, and settings to see what works best for your track. Remember, adding effects is all about enhancing the sound and bringing out the best in your recording.


Keyboard recordings are a great way to take your tracks to the next level. With GarageBand’s range of options, you can achieve a professional sound without the need for expensive equipment or software. Just remember to experiment and find what works best for your music. And that’s it, folks! We’ve covered all the necessary steps to open the keyboard in GarageBand.

  • Access the musical typing window by clicking the keyboard icon in the control bar or by pressing Command-K.
  • Customize the keyboard layout by adjusting the octave range and key labels.
  • Enhance your playing with velocity sensitivity and sustain pedal support.
  • Use third-party plugins and MIDI devices to expand your musical possibilities.

With the keyboard now at your fingertips, it’s time to unleash your creativity and explore your musical potential. Don’t forget to have fun along the way!

Thank you for reading, and feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

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