DJ Dain
DJ | Producer | Musicologist

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Summer Sessions - Lesson 2

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My second class with TableTutors proved to be enlightening. We built upon the lessons from last week, moving on to faster chirps and expanding on different flare techniques. I switched up the deck I was using early on, which positioned me with a better vantage point to watch everyone else's hand movements. I've tried to make a habit of keeping my channel fader down so I can try to watch and mimic everyone's patterns. It has helped me pick up on the combos a little more quickly.

About halfway through the lesson, something clicked for me. I noticed I was positioned at almost a 45-degree angle to the equipment in front of me. Something about that slightly triangular shape suddenly made it easier to visualize moving my arms in opposite directions to push the record forward while closing the fader from an open position, and back again. it felt like another puzzle piece had been put into place regarding open-fader techniques. Standing directly in front and above the setup in a more "normal" stance was making it difficult to wrap my brain around the physical feeling of moving things in a different way. It was very gratifying to feel like I had taken another step forward.

One of the students brought along one of the new Denon VL12 turntables and let us try it out. I was immediately struck by the combination of torque and weight of the platter. Scratching felt "meaty" in a good way. They would be an expensive upgrade, but considering I'm currently mismatched with my Technics SL-1210M5G and Stanton STR8. 150, having a matching pair of something is worth considering.

That brings me to my next observation: I may need to prioritize upgrading my mixer. I was fortunate to be able to try a few of the setups on hand, and I noticed I had a much easier time moving the cross faders and achieving the sounds I was attempting at home. Their crossfaders felt more "buttery" and had a tighter control over the hard cutoff window. I think I've been hindered by my Denon DN-X120. It has an adjustable crossover, but even at the fastest cut setting it still paled in comparison to what I was using during the lesson. I might have to focus on getting a Pioneer DJM-S9. I know Rane just announced the 72, but maybe that'll mean I can get a used S9 at a good price.

I also had a chance to jam with one of the other students for a little while. Trading 8 bars back and forth is extremely fun. It really feels like I'm able to express a rhythmical flow like an MC, just without the words. I love the organic learning that occurs in this style. I found myself hearing bits and pieces in his scratching that I wanted to try. It was also fun to attempt ideas I hadn't tried out before, like strictly moving the record and ignoring the cross fader altogether.Even though our class is small, there's a great feeling of positivity and community. Everyone is so excited to hear each other succeed and execute the techniques. Credit for this goes in part to Eric (Wundrkut) for fostering a great learning environment. I have not been surprised to hear from other students how much they enjoy private lessons with him.

I am considering investing in the school's "in-home lesson" service. Mainly, I'd want to have my setup audited. I like the idea of getting recommendations on what I should change, adjust, and/or upgrade. I think I would get real value out of their expertise to identify any problem areas that might be in my blind spots.

I can't wait until I get to go back again next week. I wish I could take a day off work just to practice!