Practice makes perfect. You know that you need to practice regularly to become a better DJ, but what exactly do you do during those practice sessions? And, most importantly, how do you keep them interesting and fun? In this post, I’ll share my approach to practicing.
Let’s start with the basics. When you learn a language, your end goal is to be able to speak that language better in everyday situations. When you practice jazz piano, your end goal is to be able to play those jazz pieces better. When you have a DJ practice session, your goal is to play better DJ sets. See a pattern here? The end goal of any practice is to do the thing better… And I find that doing the thing is also the best way to practice.
What this means is that the best way to organize your DJ practice session is by building it around a DJ set. (And if you’re just starting out, you should try playing actual sets as early as possible.) Imagine that you’re working on your EQing at the moment. In your practice session, play tunes one after another in a DJ set, while paying special attention to your EQing during the transitions. If you don’t like how a particular transition worked out, rewind the outgoing track and try again.
Organizing your practice around actual DJ sets has many advantages. Here are some of them:
I hope that by now, you agree that building your practice sessions around sets makes a lot of sense. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t devote a bit of time to practicing a particular technique before your practice set, too. For example, if you’re learning manual beatmatching, you may spend the first 15-30 minutes of your practice session playing the “game of catch-up”. But after you’re done, take the plunge and get started with the set anyway.
To wrap up: The best way to get better at something is by doing it. In the case of DJing, it’s playing DJ sets, even if it’s in your bedroom to your dog. Just pay attention to the particular technique or skill you’re currently working on and don’t be afraid to rewind to try again.
How do you practice? Any tips and tricks to share? Spill the beans in the comment section below.
JM has played open-air gigs, shared the stage with the likes of ATB and had mix albums released commercially. He has been teaching DJing since 2008.
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