This week, I tested DJ school for you. I arrived at the school, Dubspot, located on 14th street at the corner with 9th avenue or the Friday night class, at 7 ;15.
The school offers various classes, from beginner, to intermediate to advanced. Given my non-existent DJ skills, I took the beginner class.
Each classroom has 12 DJ sets with two-spin tables, and you can choose whichever one you want. First of all, the equipment is very impressive; they have everything you need, headphones included. Each set has its own speakers as well.
To be more specific, the class included Technics SL-1210 MK5 turntables, Pionneer DJM-800 or CDJ-1000’s mixers and also some Rane SL3 and Sixty-Two mixers, so that especially for extensive classes, people can switch and learn to use different equipment.
The classes are relatively small, 11 students in total and there is one teacher leading the class but also, another teacher, acting as an assistant. I got a lot of personal advice and whenever I had an issue, I never had to wait. This small group allows everyone to get help and advices.
The classes also have a very cool vibe, I loved the exposed brick walls, the nice framed pictures and paintings, and there even was a Disco ball!!
First , we all introduced ourselves ( experience in DJing, name, birthday, where we’re from and what kind of music we are into). My teacher’s name was Codes.
Then we all gathered around Codes to learn the basics of DJing and using the equipment (slip mat, belt drive, turntables, toner, BPM that is beats per minute, the different channels etc..)
We then learned to scratch and played around with that for a while, to learn how to position your hands properly, how to release a song from scratching and the different sound you can create.
Little by little we learned to transition from one song to the other. At first we had to transition from the same song on both our turntables, so basically how to get the right tempo (counting to 4).
And then we learned to transition from one song to the other song and it is actually much harder than it looks like. I finally understood why DJs only listen to one side of their headphones (It has a purpose!). It is actually to hear a different track, while still listening to the song they’re playing from the speakers. This way you can make sure the two tracks work well together before transitioning.
In the end, we all had to transition from one song to the next in front of the class. The teacher asked us what our DJ name was (let’s say there was a lot of DJ I don’t know). My transition was catastrophic so Codes actually helped me get the two tracks playing nicely by speeding up one of the songs.
What I realized during this class was that DJing is a lot about rhythm, and you need to have an ear for that.
After class, I got to chat a bit with Codes. He has been teaching for two and a half years but also does music on the side, producing and DJing. He has his own kind of style in house music, mixing Hip Hop, RnB, Garage and Jungle ( Brooklyn bounce kind of house music). He is a very friendly person. He always have an open invitation for his students when he has gigs in NY and really wants to help them make the most out of classes, and help them make contacts.
He teaches at very different levels and talked about the great opportunity this school gives to people interested in DJ. When he learned, 16 years ago, the only way was to sneak into clubs and observe.
Check out his music here
All in all, this was such a great experience; everyone was nice and helpful. Classes are of a perfect size, everything was very well organized, and the equipment is great.
I cannot recommend this school enough. It was really fun just learning the basics but there really are classes for everyone, whether you are just interested in learning the basics, considering a career, or if you already are a professional DJ or music producer. There are guest speakers, the school helps you make contacts and have gigs, there are labs to take advantage of, private lessons or collective ones, more extensive programs if you are really interested and ready to commit for a month or two etc...
For more information, here is the website: http://www.dubspot.com