Smooth hands on decks
Sweat and tears - to be a DJ you must be love-struck by the beat, says Refilwe Boikanyo
I love music and I wish I could create it and share it with the world.
I'm not blessed with a voice that can hold a tune or the ability to play an instrument, but I have rhythm and good taste in music. My iPod is carefully organised with playlists for every occasion. For jogging I have tracks to warm me up, build momentum, keep me going and then cool me down.
That's a similar sequence to what my favourite DJs do to control the dance floor. So, I have what it takes to become a DJ, but not the technical know-how, or so I thought.
SPINNING YOUR TUNES
I enrolled for a DJ 101 class at the Soul Candi Institute in downtown Johannesburg.
It's an eight-week beginner course that costs R3000. It offers one-on-one tuition once a week for two hours. Trainees get a Pioneer DJ set which they use while at the institute, a CD bag and two original Soul Candi CDs.
All I need to bring to my classes is music I'd like to play and earphones. I've been to one class so far and the first thing I learnt is DJing is not as easy as it looks. Before I can even dream of getting paid to rock the dance floor, I need to master the basics.
That includes learning how to connect the DJ gear and knowing the function of each button. There are so many cords and cables that it feels like connecting and using a computer for the first time.
My tutor, Joe Zulu, taught me how to listen to music. He said I have to train myself to listen to the beats.
"There are four beats in a bar and counting them is the start of learning how to beat mix," he said.
A four-bar phrase can be referred to as a loop. I learnt how to loop a phrase to repeat a particular part of the song and mix it into the next track. I did all of this badly, of course, and my playing sounded very rough, like a "cut and paste" effort.
If you are not passionate about your music, you won't last at a DJ school.
There are a lot of technical skills you have to acquire before you can have fun and be creative. The real school of DJing is a live crowd. I'll never know what type of DJ I am until I hit the booth at a nightclub because the point of DJing is reading the crowd and interacting with people on the dance floor, otherwise you may as well put on a playlist.
DJing is pricey and to be good you need good equipment. Decent decks are essential and a standard DJ set with speakers costs anything from R20000.
To enrol for a beginner, intermediate or advanced class at the Soul Candi Institute of Music in Selby, Johannesburg call 011-689-7939 or visit their website to find a branch closest to you. For more information see www.scim.co.za/contact
Another good place to learn is the Retro Music DJ School situated at 97 Linksfield Road Edenvale, call 011-454-0005/453-1126