Digital Audio Workstations (Layering Sound, Apps and Loops) – A Music Lesson for Years 9/10


Summary of Lesson Plan:

This lesson provides students with the opportunity to explore techniques involved in layering of sounds to create a piece of music. This activity is designed to involve students in composition in a digital medium, without the use of “traditional” instruments. The lesson provides valuable insight into the production process used in real world recording studios to produce much of the music we hear today in soundtracks, advertising jingles and top 40 hits. The process described below will be  useful for several sessions with your students.

Australian Curriculum Links:

Year 9 & 10 Music:

  • Improvise and arrange music, using aural recognition of texture, dynamics and expression to manipulate the elements of music to explore personal style in composition and performance (ACAMUM099) (experimenting with layering of sound to develop a personal style in improvisation and composition).

Lesson Plan Sequence:


Note: A basic knowledge of the use of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is necessary.

  • Demonstrate how to set up a session in your school’s DAW software program such as “Protools”, “Logic”, “Garageband” etc
  • Preview various drum loops and discuss various aspects of the loops including:
    • the time signature
    • rhythmda
    • the “feel” of the groove
    • type of drum kit
    • Any effects used
  • Import a drum loop.
  • Duplicate the loop to create a “drum bed” of around 45 seconds duration
  • Create a new track
  • Preview various bass guitar loops and discuss various aspects of the loops including:
    • the time signature
    • rhythm
    • the key
    • the “feel” of the groove
    • type of bass
    • Any effects used
  • Import and duplicate a bass loop

Some useful links:


  • Students either individually or in small groups create their own sessions.
  • Preview and insert a variety of loops including drums, bass, keyboards, synths, guitars, voices and so on.
  • It is important that the loops are of the same tempo, although some programs are capable of adjusting the loop tempo to a set session tempo.
  • Try altering the duration of loops using the various trim tools available to modify loops. For example you may like the first two bars of a synth loop. Cut the loop into a 2 bar loop and duplicate as required
  • Make sure the loops chosen are in the same key.
  • Use various effects settings to customize. E.g. Reverbs, delays, phasers, etc.


Peer analysis:

  • Students share their short composition in a listening forum or in small groups.
  • Analyse each composition using the criteria on the Peer Analysis Sheet. This is an informal and subjective analysis and the success of such an activity may vary from group to group. Use your own discretion when attempting peer analysis.

Assessment Ideas:


  • Laptops, tablets or ipad
  • Digital Audio Workstation Software
  • Digital Keyboards
  • Headphones
  • Peer Analysis sheet




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