Laidback Luke’s Creative DJing Course student Tyrone asks: “Do you guys have any experience DJing for and with kids? I work at a community centre and I try to play out there once a week because I figure it’s a good experience.
“They don’t like my house or techno records! They want to learn how to scratch, but truth is I have no clue what they are listening to. I actually have heard some great tracks they like from their requests but I’m getting overrun because I am a noob.
“How can I do background research on what different groups like, and then how can I fine tune that by asking better questions about what the specific audience enjoys and is listening to? I’m fresh off a session and flustered.”
Digital DJ Tips says:
Phil here. I have a nine-year old and a seven-year old. Kids love to jump around. They like to show off (hence the idea of scratching appeals to them). You know the Cyndi Lauper hit, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”? Well, kids REALLY just wanna have fun. There’s nothing complex about it. They tend to love high octane and dynamic music. They are not into downtempo or subtle stuff for dancing. They love high-tempo chart hits, and are familiar with songs used in children’s films/movies or TV shows, anything their teachers play them at stage/drama/singing/dancing lessons, and music that’s popular on games and social sites like Fortnite, Tik Tok and so on (hence the viral success of Tone & I “Dance Monkey”, via Tik Tok).
To get “in the zone” for this kind of stuff, just keep getting experience of playing such events. Start making lists. A good thing is that kids don’t really care about what’s new and cool, as long as they know it and can sing to it and jump around to it, so popular kids records from 5 or 10 years ago work just as well today.
For instance, a favourite with my’ children is Icona Pop’s “I Love It”. It ticks pretty much all the boxes I just mentioned. But my little boy’s tastes have swung from hip-hop (Usher “Yeah”) to classic rock’n’roll (Elvis “Jailhouse Rock”) to pop/EDM (Sigala/Becky Hill “Wish You Well”), and if you played those three in that order, he’d dance to them all – as would his mates. they tend to get into this stuff together.
My final point: Get the “clean” versions. My kids went to a Spanish-speaking nursery when they were very young, and the teachers were blissfully unaware of the line “I threw your shit into a bag and pushed it down the stairs” from that song – it was a certain kind of funny hearing a two-year-old faithfully sing along to that the first time it came on on the radio at home!
Good luck – kids’ parties can be a fulfilling gig, but they do need just a bit of thought, observation, and practice.
Any tips to share for playing kids’ parties? Please do so in the comments below