How to View and Print Sheet Music: Garageband X Tutorial

For those of us who can’t read music and play by ear, teaching someone a song you wrote is always a struggle to explain, especially when you’re dealing with trained musicians. Without the guidance of sheet music and proper notation you’re stuck trying to verbalize the chord changes and movements of a song. This can be frustrating and time consuming but with a few short steps I’m going to show you How to View and Print Sheet Music in Garageband.

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a technical standard that describes a protocol, digital interface and connectors and allows a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers and other related devices to connect and communicate with one another.

When you record a MIDI instrument into Garageband, the Placement, Velocity and Length of every note you play is recorded and can be edited afterwards. In addition to that, the proper notation and sheet music can be printed out and shared if you’re sourcing your music out for other musicians to play.

One of the greatest attribute and also the most criticized aspect of computer recording software like Garageband is that you don’t need to be a skilled musician to create great sounding music. Is that such a band thing? Every musicians has to start somewhere, why not with Garageband? In addition to the easy to use interface, Garageband offers a built in training program for musicians of all skill levels to learn how to play an instrument. 

In the meantime, plug in your MIDI instrument and let’s start creating music right now! The most common instrument you might associate with MIDI is the Piano or Keyboard. 

Most high end keyboards come with a MIDI output and can be connected to your computer via a MIDI Cable and Audio Interface like the Presonus 2x2 Audiobox. A more common and cost effective solution would be to find a USB MIDI Keyboard on Amazon, which you can usually find for under $100. 

The other MIDI instrument that comes to mind is the Electronic Drum Kit which converts each strike of the drum pad to a MIDI signal that can be manipulated in Garageband.

Believe it or not, you can also record Guitar as a MIDI instrument using the app MIDI Guitar For Garageband, which can be found in the App Store. Watch the full review by Lewin at Garageband and Beyond:


How to View and Print Sheet Music for MIDI Instruments.

Once you’ve finished recording your song, you’ll want to finalize your MIDI Track before you export and print the sheet music.

Select the track from the Project Window then open the Editor window by clicking the Editor icon, typing E on your keyboard or through the View menu by selecting “Show Editor”. 


By default, the Editor Window will open with the Piano Roll displaying all the MIDI notes of that track. Here you can edit the Placement and Length of each note in this window.


In the the left menu you have more options to edit the entire Region (Track) individual Notes or a selection of notes. 

If your notes are out of place, you can Quantize a selection of notes which will restrict them into a uniform placement of your choosing.

Quantize - The process results in notes being set on beats and on exact fractions of beats. Half-notes, quarter-notes, eight-notes, etc.


You can also change the Velocity for individual notes or a selection of notes using the slider on the left. 

Velocity - the intensity of which notes are played on a MIDI instrument.


If you wish to change the Key for this individual track, you can Transpose the MIDI notes in this Region using the slider on the left. 

Key - a group of notes based on a particular note and comprising a scale, regarded as forming the tonal basis of a piece or passage of music.

Transpose - the process of moving a collection of notes up or down in pitch.


If you wish to change the Key of the entire project, make your selection from the display window on the top of the project screen. 


Click Score icon to open the Score window which will display the actual notation for the MIDI instrument you recorded.

In this window you can also edit the placement of recorded notes, rests, etc. in the Staff the sheet music for this track.

Staff - a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces that each represent a different musical pitch—or, in the case of a percussion staff, different percussion instruments. Appropriate music symbols, depending upon the intended effect, are placed on the staff according to their corresponding pitch or function. Musical notes are placed by pitch, percussion notes are placed by instrument, and rests and other symbols are placed by convention.


You can also Insert Notes from the menu on the left by holding Command ⌘ and clicking notes onto the staff. 


Once your track has been formatted to your final revision you can now Print the Sheet Music or Save as a PDF

Access the File menu and select Print or type ⌘ P on your keyboard to open the Print window.


From this window you can Print or Save as PDF (among other options) using the drop down menu on the left. 


Once saved, the PDF will display the Song Title, BPM (Beats Per Minute), Instrument and Artist Name at the top of the document as well indicating the Starting Measure.


And there you have it, Print and Share your Sheet Music with the world. If you’re not a trained musician, utilize this feature to see what you’re actually playing in proper notation. While you’re at it, take advantage of Garageband’s built in instrument training videos, don’t stop learning and improving your skills. You don’t have to be a skilled musician to create music with Garageband but you can certainly begin your journey today. Don’t stop learning, don’t stop creating. 

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below and tell me how you’ve been able to take advantage of this feature in Garageband. 

Talk to you soon. - Drew @diygarageband