Sound Design with Garageband—for Middle School

Online Camp

The universe of audio is an invisible world often overlooked as a unique space for expression and creativity. The worlds of music and podcasting thrive in this underused space in ways that don’t rely on the visual, and the world of cinema relies on sound to do a lot of its secret heavy lifting. We will be using the Macintosh-based platform of GarageBand to explore these uses of sound. Campers will work on audio-only and audio/visual projects to learn the tools for manipulating sound and expressing themselves through it. It is both a technical journey as well as a playful and creative one. Campers will finish with a portfolio of music and videos showing off their use of sound.

Any previous knowledge and appreciation of sound is appreciated but not necessary, including any musical skills. We will assume no prior musical training, but it will surely resonate with those with some prior experience.

Campers and their families will be responsible for maintaining a working computer during the week. The school will offer guidance and remote assistance if system problems arise during the use of GarageBand, but is not responsible for solving technical issues that exceed the frame of the app interface.

Register by June 28

More details | What you'll need | Instructor | Session info (click here or see sidebar)


This workshop combines scheduled real-time virtual class meetings via Zoom, asynchronous material, and independent work.

  • Ages: 11–13 yrs.
  • Number of weeks: 1
  • Session dates: 7/5/21-7/9/21
  • Meeting schedule: M–F: 2x/day
    Mornings: 9:30 am–11:30 am; Afternoons:1:00 pm–2:00 pm CT
  • Tuition: $285


Meets Monday–Friday, between 9:30 am and 2:00 pm CT:

  • 9:30 am–11:30 am– Morning Meeting via Zoom
  • 1:00 pm–2:00 pm CT – Afternoon Meeting via Zoom


  • Monday: Intro to music in GarageBand
  • Tuesday: Deeper dive into music/creation of ringtones
  • Wednesday: Scoring for video
  • Thursday: Sound design for video
  • Friday: Advanced topics in mixing and sound design


  • To acquire a deeper appreciation for sound in media production
  • To learn the basics of a digital audio workstation (like GarageBand) to record and manipulate sound. 
  • To learn the basics of composing music and scoring to picture. 
  • To learn the basics of sound designing a film.

What you'll need at home


  • Macintosh laptop or desktop with

    • Capability to run the latest desktop version of GarageBand
    • Wi-Fi / stable internet access
    • Webcam
    • Built-in microphone

Tech accessories:

  • Required: Headphones
    • Needs to connect to the Mac.
    • Earbuds are fine, but over-the-ear headphones are recommended.
    • Remember that Macs use the mini-jack (1/8”), not the lightning jack like recent iPhones.
  • Required: A device or interface for recording audio will be needed.
    • This could be as simple as the built-in mic on the iMac or MacBook, or an iPhone or iPad with a voice recorder app.
    • Optional: Higher quality recorders like a Zoom portable recorder or a USB audio interface with a mic (or a USB mic) would be an advantage.
  • Recommended/Optional: Musical keyboard that connects to the computer via USB

Software / Apps

  • Latest version of GarageBand
    • Before class: download extra loops and samples (all free)
  • Zoom (free virtual conferencing app)

Todd Thompson is a sound engineer, lecturer in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin, and professional musician. He holds degrees in Production from Florida State University, Recording Arts from the University of Southern California, and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas.

He directed and edited the short documentary “A Lifetime in Repair,” which played at the Austin Film Festival and took first place in the Graduate Student Assembly Film Showcase at UT.

In Miami, he worked as an assistant engineer at Criteria Studios (now Hit Factory), and a video editor for MTV Latino, and the ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.