Forum member Brett Brocoy writes: “I have to DJ a dance party at a Catholic elementary school, where the age range is 9 to 13. I’ve been DJing for five years, but never had to play for such a young crowd. Besides the standard picks like Justin Bieber/Taylor Swift, what should I play? Got any other tips?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
Firstly, good luck. “Never work with kids or animals” is an often-quoted bit of advice for anyone doing anything in public! But seriously, with a few pointers, you’re going to be fine. You may even enjoy it. This is our collected wisdom from the Digital DJ Tips crew and forum members:
- Keep it current – Top 40 (Bruno Mars, Katy Perry), mashups, EDM instrumentals, radio hits. Nothing much older than six months. If you do throw in old tunes, make them hyper-mainstream (think Michael Jackson, classic disco)
- No swearing or dubious messages in songs – Go for clean versions, and sense-check your usual “adult” collection before you use in very young events
- Don’t expect kids to dance all the time – They’ll either be too shy or overly concerned with hanging out. Give them upbeat songs and they’ll eventually go crazy…
- Play requests – Don’t be afraid of this. Also, although it might seem counterintuitive, you can play the very popular songs more than once. Truth is, most of your set planning will go out the window!
- Don’t worry with filler tracks, with the exception of a slower song or two – For kids, it’s peak time always. Help them maintain that sugar rush
- Ask the experts – If you have the opportunity to speak with the client/organiser, see what they have in mind, or if they’ve noticed anything working in the past
- Ask the real experts – When in doubt, ask a younger person: a niece or nephew, if your friend has a kid, if you have a kid…
As far as sourcing music goes, get your ideas from Radio Disney, Pandora’s kids station, Spotify playlists, DMC Party Classics compilations, the popular Now! series of compilations, sites like School Dance Network, charts outside the Top 40 (such as Mobile Beat Top 200)… you get the idea. And once again, good luck!
If you’ve ever had to DJ a kids’ party, I am sure you have stories, lessons and advice. So over to you! Please spill the beans in the comments…