June 2, 2018

Become a DJ

What do I need to become a DJ?

There are a few physical items that you will need and also some ‘soft’ items in order to become a DJ. The first thing that people think about when they think about DJ’s is obviously the equipment. Turntables, mixers and headphones are the images that jump to mind. There is a lot more to DJing than technology but its certainly a fun place to start.

Equipment

The fun bit but also the expensive bit is the equipment DJ’s get to use. There is nothing more exciting than looking at turntables and mixers especially with the features that have been added to the hottest and latest products. Pionner, Denon and Numark are three highly regarded brands in the music industry. My first set of vinyl turntables were made by Gemini which have lasted for 15 years as I could not afford a pair of Technics 1210’s at the time. A few years ago Technics stopped producing the industry standard and world famous 1210 vinyl turntable. They have recently made a comeback with a price that is not for the fainthearted.

One of the first questions and things to decide when you set out to become a DJ is the choice of turntables CD’s/MP3’s or vinyl turntables which you can read more about as well as my thoughts on what I would choose if I was starting out now.

Soft skills

Learning anything new can be difficult at the beginning of learning a new skill. There are many things to remember as well as what order you need to perform them in. Having a good attitude/mindset is imperative to being able to learn anything new. If you do not have a positive mindset it will make learning anything new all the harder. So keep in mind why you want to learn to become a DJ.

Time

To be able to DJ you are going to need to set aside a lot of time to learn your craft. It’s not all parties, dancing and travelling. Depending on what level you want to get to and how soon you want to get to it will determine how long you need to spend practising. Practice does make perfect and your mixes will need to at the very least be on beat. In order to speed up your learning there are one or two ways you can choose to do this. The absolute best is to find a DJ training course where you can learn from experienced DJ’s They offer courses on beat matching all the way through to other skills like scratching.

Failing that there are various online courses which can help you to improve or at least explain things in a different way. This can give you a fresh way of thinking about the skills you are trying to learn. There is a current theory of learning that says you should do something that is the same but a little bit different. A bit like reading several sentences which all contain the same new word but in a slightly different context. This helps you learn that new word more quickly as it reinforces the learning by showing you the new word multiple times (repetition) whilst making it feel like you are learning something new.

There is loads of work to do before becoming a great DJ but it starts with learning to beat match.

Beat Matching

If the why is big enough the how will sort itself. Having said that there is still more to learn. The first skill you will need is to be able to beat match two tracks. Beat matching is the speeding up and slowing down of the track you have chosen to the same speed which is also known as tempo. Being able to change tracks whilst maintaining the beat is vital to moving through a set without stopping the party. The theory is actually very straight forward but you need to concentrate at least at the beginning until you can do it without thinking.

You need to know your music very well. Knowing what tracks you have and what happens in them can make beat matching much easier. By knowing what tracks you have you can decide on where you want to take the music. When you know what happens in a track you will know that the bass is going to stop and it will be much harder to beat match it. If you prepare for that and are ready beat match your track before that happens you can then bring the next track in as soon as the bass starts and begin the transition.

Music Choice – Know your music

Being able to read a room can help you decide where to take your set next. Are the audience after something with more bass or are they waiting for you to drop a classic track to take the party to that next level? You need to develop some intuition about what the people want but also be ready to give them what they need instead. Knowing both the music you have available and the music in your genre are imperative. You can even jump from one genre to another related genre as long as you can keep your audience happy.

You may jump to a track which people do not connect to in your venue. This does happen to the best of us. What you will need to do is first notice that everyone has left the dance floor and gone to the bar. This is a big signal (they might not all leave perhaps just a percentage) that the song choice is not a good fit. Do not panic. Simply cue up the next track and transition to it as soon as you can. They will return the to the dance floor and the party will continue. Try to work out why that track wasn’t to their liking later. It could simply be something that they do not know or it could be too commercial for the venue. If you are unable to figure it out just leave it out of your set next time.

So what do I need to become a DJ?

In summary, what do I need to become a DJ? Equipment consisting of at least turntables, headphones, mixer. You can find out about DJ Packages which can reduce the costs. A good attitude is vital as it will keep you on track with your goal of becoming a DJ. When things get tough and you think you are not able to do it, attitude will get you through.

About the author 

Charles Duance

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