Computers, Laptops & Tablets Accessories & Hardware 38 38 people found this article helpful Turn Your Mac Keyboard Into a GarageBand Piano No MIDI? No problem by Tom Nelson Writer Tom Nelson is an engineer, programmer, network manager, and computer network and systems designer who has written for Other World Computing,and others. our editorial process Facebook Twitter Tom Nelson Updated on May 23, 2020 Accessories & Hardware Keyboards & Mice The Ultimate Guide to Keyboard Shortcuts The Ultimate Guide to Keyboards The Ultimate Guide to Computer Mice The Quick Guide to Webcams Monitors Cards HDD & SSD Printers & Scanners Raspberry Pi Tweet Share Email GarageBand is Apple's application for creating, editing, and having fun with music on your Mac. This free download from the Mac App Store works well with MIDI instruments, but if you don't have a MIDI keyboard, you can turn your Mac keyboard into a GarageBand piano. Information in this article applies to GarageBand 10.3.4 compatible with macOS Catalina (10.15), Mojave (10.14), and High Sierra (10.13.6). How to Use the GarageBand On-Screen Keyboard You may not think of your Mac keyboard as a music-making machine, but it can be. Here's how: Open GarageBand by double-clicking it in the Applications folder or selecting its icon on the Dock. Select New Project in the GarageBand sidebar. Click the Empty Project icon in the main window and then select Choose in the bottom right corner of the window. In the pop-up window, select Software Instrument and click Create. Select one of the Pianos in the instrument list in the Library at the left of the screen. A keyboard appears underneath the window. If it doesn't, click Window > Show Musical Typing in the GarageBand menu bar to bring up the keyboard. The Musical Typing window shows the Mac keys that correspond to musical keys on the piano. The Musical Typing window also displays a keyboard above the keys, indicating which octave is currently active. This is the standard setup for playing the piano in GarageBand. Play the on-screen notes by pressing the keys on your keyboard that correspond to the notes in the Musical Typing window or by clicking the keys with your mouse in the Musical Typing window. GarageBand plays the notes and records the track. Changing Octaves in the Standard Layout on the Mac The standard Musical Typing keyboard displays an octave and a half at any one time mapped to the "asdf" row of keys on a standard computer keyboard. Changing octaves is performed in one of two ways. Click the x key on the Musical Typing keyboard to move up one octave or the z key to move down one octave. Move multiple octaves by repeatedly clicking the x or z keys.The second method uses the representation of a piano keyboard near the top of the Musical Typing window. Select the highlighted area on the piano keyboard, which represents the keys assigned to the typing keyboard, and drag the highlighted section left or right on the piano keyboard. Stop dragging when the highlighted section is in the range you want to play. Alternative Onscreen Keyboard on the Mac Besides the standard keyboard, you can opt to toggle to a piano keyboard with a five-octave range by clicking the keyboard icon in the upper left corner of the Musical Typing keyboard. This piano keyboard doesn't assign any of the keys to correspond to your Mac's keyboard. As a result, you can only play this keyboard one note at a time, using your mouse or trackpad. This layout offers a wider range of notes, and playing a single note at a time is helpful when editing the work you create. GarageBand is available as a free download from the Mac App Store and the App Store for iOS mobile devices. How to Turn Your iPad Into a GarageBand Piano The GarageBand iPad app has a touch piano keyboard option that works differently from the Mac version, but it is just as easy to access and as much fun to play. Shown here is the iPadOS 13 version. Open GarageBand on your iPad. Select the Alchemy Synth keyboard on the opening screen. Use the on-screen piano keyboard and special effects keys to create music. Tap the red dot when you're ready to record. How to Connect a MIDI Keyboard to a Mac If you have a MIDI keyboard, you can connect it to your Mac. When MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was first developed, it used a 5-pin round DIN connector along with multiple cables to handle MIDI IN and MIDI OUT. These older MIDI interfaces have pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur. Most modern keyboards use standard USB ports to handle MIDI connections. As a result, you don't need any special adapters, interface boxes, or special driver software to connect a MIDI keyboard to your Mac. Just plug the MIDI keyboard into an available Mac USB port. When you launch GarageBand, the app detects the MIDI device. To try out your MIDI keyboard, create a new project in GarageBand and choose Project Templates in the left sidebar. Select Keyboard Collection. When the project opens, touch a few keys on the keyboard; you should hear the keyboard through GarageBand. Resetting a MIDI Interface If you don't hear the MIDI keyboard in GarageBand, reset GarageBand's MIDI interface. Select GarageBand > Preferences from the GarageBand menu bar. Select the Audio/MIDI tab in the Preferences toolbar. Click Reset MIDI Drivers if you don't see your MIDI device detected. You should now be able to play your MIDI keyboard through your Mac and record your sessions using GarageBand.