How to Play Piano on GarageBand

You can play piano in GarageBand by either using one of the built-in keyboard software instruments or by connecting a MIDI keyboard or other type of piano to the app. Whether you are just learning how to play or trying to record, you have a few options to use.

My name is Donovan, and I’ve been playing and recording music for over a decade. I’ve used GarageBand extensively, and I know how to play piano and other instruments on the app. 

This post will show you how to play piano on GarageBand. I’ll walk you through all the steps to get a keyboard or piano software instrument set up in the app. I’ll also tell you how to connect an external device like a MIDI keyboard or similar. 

Let’s get rolling. 

How to Play Piano on GarageBand Mac

There are two different ways you can go about playing piano on GarageBand with your Mac. You can use one of the built-in software instruments, which have several different keyboard options, or you can connect an external keyboard and play directly into the app. 

To play piano in GarageBand with one of the built-in software instruments, follow the steps below:

1. Open up a new or existing project in GarageBand. If you choose a new project, you can either start with an empty project or use one of GarageBand’s built-in templates. The Keyboard Collection is a good option to go with to start playing the piano. 

(Screenshot taken in GarageBand on my Mac)

2. Select the Keyboard Collection project template and then click Choose to open the project. 

Quick Note: You can also choose the empty project option and add any built-in keyboard software instrument to a track rather than using the Keyboard Collection template. 

3. Click on the piano/keyboard option you want to play. 

4. Press Command + K to pull up the musical typing window. This window displays a keyboard/piano that you can control with the keyboard on your Mac or your mouse. It’s an excellent way to play piano within the app if you don’t have an external instrument. 

5. You can now either practice playing piano on GarageBand or record a piano/keyboard track using the keyboard controls in the musical typing window. You can also try out all the different keyboard sounds and similar software instruments built into the app. 

(Screenshot taken in GarageBand on my Mac)

To play piano on GarageBand using an external keyboard or piano, follow these steps: 

1. Connect your keyboard or piano to your Mac using the proper cables or an audio interface. These connections vary from instrument to instrument, but a USB connection is common. You might also need a USB doc to connect the cables to your computer. 

2. Open GarageBand and select New Project. 

3. Add a track to your project by clicking on the + button at the top of the track list window. 

4. Select Software Instrument from the options in the next window. 

5. Select Create

6. The main GarageBand window will now pop up. You can choose any piano or keyboard you want to play with your connected keyboard here. Your keyboard should be connected to the track, and you can play and control the sounds within the app.  

How to Play Piano on GarageBand iPhone

Playing piano on GarageBand for iPhone is essentially the same process as for a Mac, and you can either play the tap keyboard built into the app or connect an external keyboard to your iPhone and play that way. 

Follow these steps to play piano on GarageBand with your iPhone and the built-in tap keyboard. 

1. Open GarageBand on your iPhone. 

2. If you are directed to the My Songs folder when launching the app, click on the + button to start a new project. 

3. Choose Keyboard from the list of available tracks. 

4. A tap keyboard will appear on your iPhone. You can play or practice simply by tapping the keys on it. There are plenty of options to explore to tweak and change the sound of the piano or keyboard you are playing right in the keyboard player window. 

5. You can also choose a regular piano sound or any of the built-in keyboards and synths from the main keyboard window. 

Follow these steps to play piano on your iPhone using an external keyboard. 

1. Connect your external keyboard to your iPhone. You’ll need the necessary cables to make this happen. It’s much more common to connect an external keyboard to GarageBand on Mac, but you can still do it on iPhone. 

2. Open the GarageBand app. 

3. Start a new project and choose one of the built-in software instrument keyboard sounds. 

4. You should now be able to play your external keyboard in GarageBand on your iPhone. Make any adjustments to the sound or instrument that you want. You can simply practice or record a track and add it to an existing project. 

How to Play Piano on GarageBand with Computer Keyboard

If you don’t have an actual keyboard and want to play piano in GarageBand on your Mac, you can use the musical typing window to make this happen. This allows you to turn your computer keyboard into a musical keyboard. 

All you need to do to get the musical typing window up in a GarageBand project on your Mac is press Command + K. This will allow you to control any of the built-in software keyboard, synth, or piano software instruments that come with GarageBand. 

The musical keyboard window will show you the keys on your computer keyboard in the shape of a mini keyboard. Make sure that you select this view rather than the full keyboard view that you can click with your mouse. 

Playing piano on your computer keyboard in GarageBand can take some getting used to. Still, you can put together awesome tracks, and it’s a very effective way to start making and recording music if you don’t have instruments. 


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions relating to how to play piano on GarageBand. 

How do you get the piano up on GarageBand?

To get musical typing up on GarageBand for Mac, all you need to do is press Command + K. This will pull up the piano/keyboard that allows you to use the keyboard on your computer like a piano. You can make several adjustments in the window that pops up.  

Can I play my keyboard through GarageBand?

Yes, you can easily connect an external keyboard to GarageBand and record directly into the app. You’ll need to make sure you have the proper connections or an audio interface to connect an external instrument. But if you have those, the process is simple. 

Final Thoughts

You can easily play piano in GarageBand on your Mac or iPhone, whether you have an external keyboard you want to plug in or by using the keyboards within the app itself. This allows you to take advantage of all the great software instruments in the app. 

I think that the tap keyboard that comes with the iOS version of GarageBand is easier to use on an iPad than on an iPhone because of the larger size. But you can still work the keys on your iPhone, it just takes some getting used to. 

Do you have a favorite keyboard or piano sound in GarageBand that you like to use for recording? Do you think GarageBand is a good way to practice playing piano when you don’t have one? Let me know in the comments below.  

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