DJ Lessons Part I: The Music

Are Your Music Skills Where They Should Be?


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There are many different things you will need to learn as a DJ. Personally I like to break down DJing into three distinct categories: the art, the science and the business. You will need to learn the different aspects of the business if you want any kind of success. Of course it would be awesome if you could afford to take DJ lessons from a professional or a former pro DJ but most of us can’t. It would also be great if you had a team of publicists, managers and accountants to take care of the business side of being a DJ. But, alas, that is a dream for the future.

Today you must learn every aspect of the business yourself. Not only will this make you a better DJ today but it will ensure you don’t get taken advantage of when you finally have the gigs and money to pay the pros to take over.

But today it’s about the music. You may not be able to afford actual lessons from a DJ but these are the DJ lessons you need to make the music.

Music Basics

This seems like a big ‘no duh’ but you’d be surprised how many DJs get all the equipment and learn to use it but know absolutely nothing about being a musician. I don’t mean that you need to plan an instrument—although it would help—what I mean is that you need to know how musical keys work.

The basics you will need to familiarize yourself with include not just the keys but also the scales (major and minor!) so that you can actually hear them. Unless you plan on being strictly a jukebox DJ you won’t just need to do this you’ll want to because it’ll make you a better DJ.

When the time comes to create mixes and start producing your own stuff, you’ll be glad you put in the time to learn about music.

Be A Music Lover

One thing you’ve probably learned if you have any DJs in your inner circle is how much they crave music. Whether it is the Top 40, B-sides, imports or underground music; those who truly love music are always looking for something new or original to wow them.

Do you find yourself stopping at those relics known as music stores if you happen upon one? Then you at least are on your way to being a music lover. This is an important DJ lesson because as a working DJ you want to give the crowd something other DJs aren’t giving them and you want to have some unique tracks in your repertoire so you can create unique mixes and mashups that people will want to hear and buy.

There’s another reason this is an essential part of being a pro DJ: having a keen ear for music will help you learn what sounds go well together. While this is part of creating great music, it is also yet another way for you to continue your musical education.

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Be A Fan

As a DJ it is virtually impossible to exist as an island. You need connections to survive and thrive in this business, but you’ll also want a circle of support that understands your troubles and struggles.

My point is that you should make it part of your job as a DJ to go out and listen to other DJs in their environment. I don’t mean simply go online and collect their ‘best of’ collections and listen to what they do technically. Nope, I mean you need to put on your club clothes, grab some cash and go watch and listen to what your contemporaries are doing.

Think of this as on the job training while you sit back and watch how other DJs draw the crowd in, keep them on the dance floor and even something as mundane as how they respond to requests or drunken DJ booth breaches. There are always things you’ll have to learn while you’re in the deep end, but watching how others get it done will lessen the mistakes you have to make in the process.

Just Do It

When you think of being a DJ and making new music I want you to think of this like being a chef. You have the technical aspects down pat; you know the recipe for making good music. Now it’s time to add a bit of this and a hint of that to your recipe to make it uniquely yours.

You have tons of virtual instruments, loops and effects at your fingertips so it’s time to put those DJ lessons to proper use. Just because “common theory” dictates that you should do things a certain way doesn’t mean you can’t try it just to see for yourself how it sounds. If it sounds like crap you can trash it and start over, but you can’t be different if you don’t try.

You’ve good all the ingredients to be a good DJ so now it’s time to put it all together and go into the world.

I hope I helped you figure out where to focus your DJ lessons. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey!

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