Digital DJ Tips member T Simpson writes: “I’m from the days where if you wanted to learn how to be a half decent DJ you got yourself some turntables, went to the record shop, spent all your pennies buying vinyl and practised in your bedroom until someone turned off the electricity. Then when you were confident enough, you would go out there and convince someone to let you loose on the decks and hope you don’t empty the venue after the first track!”
“I will admit I have never really taken the time to look at a DJ course, but I thought the best way to learn is through trial and error. Am I being old fashioned here or would you say there is a genuine benefit from doing a course?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
DJ Angelo, who helped us with our Scratching For Controller DJs course, has a nice take on this. He says you can teach people technique to a certain point, but after that it becomes style, at which point you can’t teach them. I think he hits the balance really nicely.
You see, in the old days, there was no internet, no video training, no forums or comments, no really effective way of being taught DJing apart from getting someone to show you – and not everybody knows a DJ to show them the ropes (or who is prepared to.) Even if they do, that DJ can only ever teach you their “one way” of doing something.
Now that’s all changed, and indeed the whole reason we started Digital DJ Tips was to show DJs how to do this stuff, and we obviously hit a chord (sorry for the pun) as we’ve got over 10,000 students to date. As founder of the site, my own interest has increasingly been in studying how to teach better… and yes, I take courses in order to improve my teaching technique!
But DJ Angelo (and you, T Simpson) are right to an extent…
Angelo is right in that while someone can show you the ropes (and DJing has an awful lot of “ropes” – music discovery and selection, set planning, crowd reading, mixing skills, the technical side of it, marketing/promoting etc. etc), nobody can teach you the “style” that you’ll need to “make it your own” – that is definitely something you develop through “doing”.
And you yourself are right in that at the end of the day, practising is the only way to do anything! There’s no shortcut to that. But that doesn’t mean that teaching has no value in DJing.
Firstly, DJ tutors such as this site can show DJs what they should be doing to shortcut months or even years of learning, and get them fast on the right path with no wasted time. Funnily enough, digital has actually made it harder, not easier, to get started (at least a pair of decks and a mixer was relatively simple, if hard to master!), and we have found people really do appreciate that helping hand, especially right at the beginning.
And secondly – crucially – DJ training courses help new DJs to get in front of a crowd as quickly as possible. DJing is done in public. You don’t learn it behind closed doors. If we can speed up that moment where a new DJ gets in front of real, live people (which is what our beginner course, How To Digital DJ Fast is all about), we allow them to discover for themselves what it’s all about, hopefully before they get disillusioned and park their dreams.
We know that once you’ve played that first DJ set, you tend to work out if it’s for you or not, and you also know much better where you want to “go” next with your new hobby. If DJ training courses such as ours can help people to play more live sets and figure out what their “style” is going to be faster, and then help them to achieve those goals once they have, then yes – we believe they’re definitely worth it. Just as long as the student remembers that practice is not optional…
• Want to know about our DJ courses? Find out more here.
Do you think DJing is something that can be trained, or is it something that you either have or you don’t? Has anyone helped you along your way with DJ journey, or were you totally self-trained? Please let us know in the comments.