I’m completely new to audacity but am thinking of using it on my classroom laptops (I’m a music teacher, and would like to use audacity as a garageband type substitute).
I’d like to be able to get my students to record and multitrack things they are playing on the keyboards. How could I do this? I’m presuming I’d need a cable to connect the headphone socket on the keyboard to the laptops, but then how would they hear what they are recording, and playback?
This tutorial http://manual.audacityteam.org/index.php?title=Tutorial_-_Your_First_Recording should help you get the connections set up. Beware that most laptops do not have line level input sockets, which you need to connect the line level output or headphone output from the keyboard to the laptop.
Overdubbing (playing along with a previous track) is a complex subject, but in a nutshell you select “Overdub” from the Transport menu to hear what you have previously recorded.
There will be a delay between when you strike a key and when it is recorded in Audacity - see this tutorial for details: http://manual.audacityteam.org/index.php?title=Latency_Test
What version of Audacity do you have installed on the student laptops? We recommend 1.3.12.
In addition to Bill’s comments;
Audacity is used successfully in many schools (and the price is great if you’re on a tight budget). It also has the advantage that any of your students that have access to a computer at home will be able to run the same software at home.
However, the pupils will (not surprisingly) expect you to be the expert, so do have a bit of practice with it in private before introducing it into the classroom.
In particular, make sure that you are totally familiar with the difference between “Audacity Projects” and “audio files” - there’s detailed information about this here: http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/File_Management_Tips
Also, you need to be aware that Audacity will not run well (if at all) over a network. If your computers are on a school network, check that the students have access to some “local” disk space (space on the hard drive of the computer that they are using). Network drives are not fast enough for Audacity to be able to reliably read and write data in real time (which it needs to do). In particular, the Audacity “temporary” folder must be located in a local, internal hard drive, and the Audacity Projects must be located on a local, internal hard drive. The finished projects may be exported to a network drive if that is more convenient that keeping everything on the local machine.