The Destruction Of Progress – Save Yourself

Do you remember the first time you learned to ride a bike? Like most of us this was likely a very frustrating experience. Especially at the point when you fell on the pavement and felt the literal pain of your mistake. While I’m unaware of the exact thought going through your mind at that very moment, it’s pretty safe to assume it was negative.

If you ultimately succeeded at riding your bike without falling again, it is also likely that positive thought was at the forefront of your success. That positive message may have come from a parent, guardian or friend of some sort, but what’s ultimately important is that it was there.

Had you not replaced your negative feelings of pain and defeat you may have never taken that next step to get back on your bike and ride again. Learning to ride a bike is not usually a two step process though. It usually takes several attempts and possible falls before failure gives way to success.

After Every Mistake, There’s Another Waiting In The Wings

Scratching is no different and thus you will have many upsets coming at you continually through the process of scratch improvement. Unlike when you learned to ride a bike, you won’t always have someone there to pick your ego off the floor and dust it off. You have to become self sufficient.

Even if you have a high quality scratch teacher that you regularly train with, they can’t always be there with you every step of the way. A truly good teacher will give you the tools to make regular leaps in progression without their constant presence. This leads to getting much bigger results during practice than you would otherwise.

Every Time Counts

Some common thoughts that typically occur during frustrating moments of scratch practice usually start off with, “I can’t”. The reality is your brain will believe whatever you tell it, especially if you habitually do so. The reverse is also true. If you regularly feed your brain with positive thought, it’ll believe that too.

If you’re accustomed to thinking in a negative manner when faced with challenges in your scratching, it may prove too difficult to avoid it. What I’m proposing is not to avoid it, but rather to face negative thought head on.

When dealing with negative thoughts, the goal is to replace those thoughts with its opposite. For example, “I can’t” becomes “I will”. Retraining your brain in this manner is a long term process and must be done each and every time negativity rears its ugly head.

Negative Thought Vs. Criticism

Although negative thought is indeed a form of criticism. It is a detrimental form of criticism. This doesn’t mean that you should abandon criticism or replace every form of criticism with something else. Criticism when done right is very constructive and fuels progress.

In fact constructive criticism is just another link in the chain of positive thought. Your goal is not to lie to yourself in order to feel good about your struggles. It is to acknowledge what needs improvement in your scratching and to have a strong sense of faith that you will overcome whatever problems you encounter.

Strength In Numbers

While regularly changing negative streams of thought to positives ones should be something you’re able to do on your own, we don’t live in a vacuum. Having friends, associates or a high quality scratch mentor who successfully does the same thing is very helpful.

Often times simply surrounding yourself with these types of people can greatly improve your outlook on things. Not to mention they can offer you their own take on how to stay positive that you might not have considered. Just like seeking out positive thoughts, you must also seek out positive people. If you do this, negativity doesn’t stand a chance.

The Enemy of Stamina

Have you ever set out to scratch for a few hours and ended your session much sooner than planned? Mentally, it seemed you were there. You had lots of scratches to work on and many ideas were flowing, yet physically you couldn’t persevere.

You were likely pretty disappointed because your mind didn’t shut off, but your body did. What’s worse is you were probably unaware of the true reason behind your apparent lack of stamina. Since you were not aware of the real cause, you likely went back with the “Try, try again” attitude, expecting that if you forced yourself to regularly practice long hours you’d eventually be able to endure it.

Unfortunately this is the wrong approach and will only lead to either causing unnecessary exhaustion or cutting down on your scratch practice time. There are many reasons why one’s endurance may suffer, but the key reason behind such an issue is excess tension throughout your body.

The Tension Antidote

Tension can be equated to stress. When we are overly stressed we tense up. Our neck gets stiff. Our shoulders tighten. Our back gets sore. These are all symptoms of stress and shouldn’t be neglected.

When we seek to combat stress we do so through activities of relaxation. We might take a nap, drink a cup of warm tea or meditate. Regardless of what you may choose to do when faced with lots of stress, we all have the same objective. We want to get relief.

Tension is no different. It can also be dealt with through relaxation. However, if you’re in the midst of a scratch session, you’re not going to just stop the moment you feel overly tense and take a nap. Thus you must learn subtle ways of relaxing that tension when scratching so you may continue for as long as needed.

The First Step Is Awareness

Before you can remove unnecessary tension, you must become aware of it. Since this is not something that typically comes naturally, I will take you through a quick exercise. Stand as you normally would when you are scratching. Squeeze your right shoulder muscle and hold it for 2 to 3 seconds. Notice the feeling of tension this gives you. Also take note of other areas that feel tense when you do this, as your shoulder will not be the only area affected. Next, completely relax and take note of how that feels as well. Now repeat this exercise with all other muscle groups.

When you are finished familiarizing yourself with the presence of tension throughout your body, you now have a working model to go by the next time you scratch. In fact I recommend that, time permitting, you go to your set up after completing the exercise and scratch.

Focus while scratching on how your body feels. Are you experiencing any feelings similar to the ones felt during the tension portion of the exercise? If so don’t worry about fixing it yet. Just be very aware of it and know that you are much closer to increasing your stamina than you were moments ago.

The Art Of Letting Go

Now you are ready to start releasing tension as it crops up. Since you are more aware of how unnecessary tension feels your task is easier. Unfortunately, tension can be a relentless pest and so you must be extremely vigilant of its presence.

Think back to the tension exercise at the moment you released the tension. You are shooting for a similar feeling when releasing tension while scratching. Since you’re not standing still as you should’ve been during the exercise, you might be required to adjust your body a little bit. This could mean lifting your chin up if your neck is craning too far forward, dropping your shoulder if it is positioned upwards towards your ear, having a wider stance if your feet are too close together, etc.

The Jellyfish Syndrome

You must be warned that it is possible to over relax. While it is true that too much tension can cause discomfort and weaken endurance, too little tension can be just as detrimental. When you are too relaxed it becomes difficult to execute much of anything. In a case like that, all the stamina in the world is going to have little value because you will just sound sloppy and non expressive.

Too Little, Too Late

While it is good to be aware of and fix issues of excessive tension, it does not always equal out to increased stamina. Tension will often creep into our system without us realizing it at the moment it happens. By the time you become aware and diffuse it, you’re body has already grown more weary than it would have if you had addressed the problem when it began.

This doesn’t mean that you are doomed to never endure extended scratch sessions. It simply means you’ll have to work on your relaxation technique long term, continually increasing your awareness while scratching all the while. The best news of all is that eventually this will become second nature. This is great because once the process is natural you won’t have to cloud your thoughts with issues of tension and can instead focus on having fun when you scratch and expressing yourself.

Why Thoughtless Solos Get Greeted With Closed Minds

Composition isn't something that gets discussed much in the scratch community. However, without it music lacks structure and without structure music is essentially just a bunch of noise. This holds true when any instrumentalist solos as well. A well composed solo is a great solo. Likewise, if there is little to no thoughtful composition in a scratch solo it will not be enjoyable to listen to.

Composition tends to be thought of as a written process, yet in scratching writing out your solos is very rare. However, just because the bulk of scratch solos that exist are improvised does not mean that they can't be well composed. If that were the case, all the greats of scratching would sound thoughtless and unconvincing, thus there'd be no great scratch dj's.

Know Your Audience

Whether your audience is comprised of other turntablists or people that have little to no connection with turntablism, one thing bonds them together. If your solos lack structure, they will notice and subsequently be turned off. They may not be able to put what they dislike into words, but they will naturally lack enjoyment from what you're doing.

Improvisation Love it or Love it

Let's face it, if you don't enjoy improvising you better learn to or switch instruments because the backbone of scratching is and will likely always be improvisation. So how do you give your solos a feeling of quality composition if everything you're doing is on the spot? Well there are many ways, but one simple yet effective way that you can implement immediately is repetition.

Repetition Gives a Feeling of Structure

If all of your solos are just one long string of different scratches where repetition comes few and far between the audience never has a chance to feel anchored to what you're doing. It will fly right over their heads. If something sounds good it should be repeated multiple times. Get the most juice you can out of it until it's dry. That's why pop songs are so popular because they always have a hook. Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you to be as maniacally repetitive as a pop song, but you need to get more mileage out of the scratch patterns you know so the audience has a chance to soak them in and really enjoy them.

This is also important when considering that most scratch beats are in a simple, repetitive 4/4 format with no hooks whatsoever. This makes the responsibility of providing a hook like feeling fall to you as the soloist. If you don't do this, audiences that are used to receiving the feeling hooks give off in other genres will be lost and naturally disinterested.

Timing Goes Hand in Hand with Repetition

Don't make the mistake of assuming that simply repeating a combo multiple times at any moment is enough. Timing is still a crucial part of utilizing repetition. Going back to hooks, listen to any major pop tune and you'll notice the hooks are always well timed. This isn't an accident. The goal is to maximize the effectiveness of the hook, so it will often times come after a song has built up a lot of tension and is giving a feeling of beginning to climax.

What this means for you as a scratch soloist is you'll have to feel things out. If you're scratching over a simple 4/4 beat you will be completely steering the ship. If the beat is a little more complex and actually has hooks of its own, you can use those hooks as cues for your own repetition. Either way you'll have to develop a good sense of timing and that comes mostly from experience.

Never Go Too Long Without Repeating Yourself

A good way to get your feet wet with this concept is to simply not allow yourself to go more than 30 seconds at a time without launching into a string of combo repetition. As you continue to do this, you'll soon get a feel for what sounds and feels right as far as when to launch into repetition, how many times to repeat a combo as well as how often. Nothing is a better teacher than experience, so don't wait to transform your scratch solos into breathtaking feats and get started today!

The Art of Having Fun

When you first started to scratch it is pretty safe to assume that you intended to have fun. Most likely you did and continued to enjoy yourself or you probably wouldn't be reading this. Likewise, it's also pretty safe to assume that you don't always have fun when you scratch. Unfortunately there are no guarantees that scratching will always be fun for you. However, you can greatly increase the odds of having fun if you focus on the right things when scratching.

Well Intended Focus

If you're even the least bit serious about scratching than you have goals. Whether your goals are big or small is irrelevant for the purpose of this article. Goals are all about expectations. Every goal has a natural expectation built into it that it will be achieved. That expectation may not always be backed by confidence, but the expectation is still there.

Unfortunately, not every goal we set for ourselves is easily achieved and the process of achievement in scratching can be extremely tough on your spirits. Many mistakes and setbacks will inevitably take place and if you're not careful those setbacks can be a huge source of frustration. Having fun in the face of frustration is not easily done either. Yet it is vital that you continue to enjoy what you do or you will not be able to tough it out through all the obstacles that you'll encounter.

Shifting Your Focus

Since having fun is clearly important, you need to keep your mind on the things you associate with feeling good. We've all experienced some form of victory in our life so we know how good it feels to achieve a goal. Thus, achieving your goals in scratching will also feel good so you must stay focused on those feelings. Especially during your most challenging times you need to think about how good it will feel to break past your frustrations and be at the level you're shooting for.

Being more focused on the joy of achievement throughout your experiences in scratching will actually make the challenges you face more fun. This is because you have now reframed your problems as mere bumps in the road to things you'll inevitably achieve. Once you consistently think like this no problem will seem to truly stand in your way.

Thinking Beyond Goals

Let's also realize that the reason we have goals at all in scratching is so we can express ourselves freely. While it is obvious that once you have mastered scratching you will be able to express essentially anything you want at any moment, it is not as obvious that you still have power to express yourself with scratching at any skill level. Thus, it's important to recognize and take comfort in this fact. This will enable you to enjoy yourself even more along your journey to full on self actualization because a part of what you ultimately want is with you all along.

Focusing on Having Fun Creates Fun

The coolest thing about fun is simply thinking about having fun puts you in a space where fun is possible. If your primary intention is to have fun, it is very likely that you will. Bottom line, don't let tough times slow you down. Keep looking for good times and they'll be yours!

The Discouraging Side of Progression

Progression is something that we all thrive off of and enjoy. It's often seen as a very positive thing as it should be, but there is a negative side to progression that is quite common. There are ways to cope well with the negativity that comes along with progression, but before we discuss that we need to understand how progression works. What you must realize is that progression in scratching tends to happen in incremental steps. It often takes many twists and turns before something comes out just right, so when a moment of clarity hits you and it all comes together that is actually the result of many smaller steps of progression that lead to that experience.

It really boils down to replacing inaccuracies with correct technique. Often times there are multiple things that are going wrong within any given thing you're working on. Not only do you have to correct these things, but you need to further correct the so called correct way of doing things as you're likely to still be somewhat off from what is truly accurate. This means that you'll be spending much more time doing things incorrectly than otherwise. This leads to developing bad habits that you'll be working regularly to break and replace with good habits (accurate technique).

Negativity Minimized

Unfortunately this is where progression is mixed with regression which is the unfortunate side of progression. It's very similar to the expression, "Old habits die hard." Considering all of this, it's even more devastating to realize that we're mostly unconscious of letting our old habits get the best of us despite learning good habits to replace them with. When this happens it's typical to get upset and feel like all your hard work wasn't worth it. It's only natural to feel puzzled about not being able to do something that we just did moments before.

No Miracle

While there is no miracle cure for this issue there are things that can be done. One of the most important things you can do is always be prepared to write about your major moments of progress as they happen. Yes that's right. Actually stop what you're doing and write down exactly what took place. While it would seem better to keep attempting to do the same thing over and over again after it happened, it can cause too many distractions as your old habits can creep in, adding confusion to what actually worked in the first place. Writing things out brings clarity in your scratching that otherwise wouldn't be there and gives you something to focus on so you can be much more aware of what to do and what not to do.

The Big Picture Gets Even Bigger

The beauty of this strategy beyond making it easier to cope with regression is it actually helps to speed up your overall progression. This is because, once accustomed to this approach, you will be spending far less time getting stuck on bad habits that sabotage your progress and far more time on what does work. This is even truer over longer periods of time. Think of it like a high interest savings account where large deposits are made regularly instead of withdrawals, allowing the interest to yield much higher amounts of money for you as years go by.

A Time and a Place

Sometimes progression will hit you at times where stopping to write about it won't be ideal or even appropriate. Such situations would be jam sessions or live performances. Make sure to fully realize the difference between scratch practice and performance. Understand that what I have laid out for you in this article is a practice strategy. Jamming is a time to let all your hard work shine for you and express yourself to the best of your abilities without having to worry about further improvement. Don't worry if anything passes you by during those times. As long as you are on top of things during practice you'll get more than enough progression out of yourself.


You can always reflect afterwards about your performance and what allowed you to excel. I strongly recommend recording your scratch jams whenever possible. You may not always be able to recall what you'd like to since there can be so much to think about during a performance situation. Watching and listening back to what you did can be an excellent way to jog your memory as well as capture the joy of your performance.

Why Sacrificing Tomorrow For Today Will Fail You

We've all been through it. You're looking forward all day to scratching. The day creeps along and by the time you're home and ready, you just want to sit down, watch tv and relax. You think, "I'll just chill for a bit, then I'll get on the cut." Yet before you know it, thirty minutes turns into an hour, an hour turns into two and now all you want to do is sleep. Or at the very least not get up. You think, "I'll just scratch tomorrow." No big deal right? Right! If this was only just an occasional occurrence, but if you look back on all the times this has happened, you're probably staring right down the barrel of a ton of missed scratch progression and fun.

Guilt is Not Enough

You almost feel guilty knowing how much time you've actually cheated yourself out of. It's frustrating, but you can't get that time back so what do you do? Perhaps resolve to breaking out of the trap of time wasting. Yet there's still a part of you that doesn't really believe you can change so radically. Guilt will only take you so far. While guilt can be a motivator, a lot of times it only deflates us. So we avoid it in order to not feel bad about ourselves instead of actually fixing the problem. It's unfortunate because approaching the issue like this only sets you up to repeat this cycle of failure.

Why Approach Life With an All or Nothing Mentality?

That question might sound funny considering this article seems very much like exactly that. Let me assure you it's not the case. There is a time and a place for everything that brings you joy in life provided it doesn't hurt you or anyone else. What you really have to assess is, are the activities you regularly engage in actually all that enjoyable. Sadly, many times this is not the case. You're simply just going through the motions of life.

Going back to television as an example, if something you're watching is adding fuel to the fire and filling you full of inspiration to scratch, than that should be considered a wise investment of your time (provided you act on that inspiration of course). On the other hand, if what you're watching is just idle chatter and not inspiring you to do anything more than just sink further into the couch, then you should probably get up immediately and go accomplish something more worthy of your time.

Start Small or You Won't Start at All

The most common mistake people make about achievement is that a lot has to be accomplished in a short period of time and if you don't get a ton of things accomplished in one day, somehow you've failed yourself. With that type of thinking it's no wonder so many people put things off so regularly. The truth is that type of thinking is very small. Most likely all those big things that you feel the need to get done quickly are very minor when put up against the big picture.

Focus on the Big Picture!

You have to think about what you ultimately want to achieve from scratching. From how you'll sound, how you'll be perceived, what impact you'll make, whether you want a professional career, what you'll get out of that career, etc. Most importantly, you have to really take time to imagine and get close with how achieving all those things will really make you feel. Now ask yourself, what do you need to do to make your scratch goals a reality? Now ask yourself, what can I do right now at this very moment to get me closer to my goals? Believe it or not that answer does not have to be something equally big. How could it if you truly created a large scale dreamscape for yourself?

The fact of life we all know too well is nothing is achieved overnight. However, taking steps in the right direction consistently will get you there, even if those steps are baby sized. So take bigger steps when you can, but always take forward steps of any size and I promise you won't regret it.

Discovering the Fire Within From Outside

If you're going through a low moment right now or have in the past, I feel for you because we all do. I've been through many myself throughout all my years as a turntablist. These kinds of feelings are tough to navigate through and not naturally easy to break out of. However, there are many ways to break the chains of procrastination towards your scratch goals. One such way has very little to do with you personally and very much to do with other people or things.

The answer may seem obvious, but too often we get so caught up in ourselves and what we want to achieve, that we forget to look outside ourselves for inspiration. Sometimes you have to put scratching aside and seek some clarity. Take a moment to reflect on your life and think about all the things that have inspired you to take action. Try not to limit your thinking while doing so. Sources of inspiration come in all shapes and sizes, from watching a master musician live to listening to an amazing, heartfelt speech to taking a scenic tour of a beautiful city and so much more.

Blatantly Indulging in Inspiration

Once you're clear on what outside sources inspire you most, it's time to indulge in them. Forget about forcing yourself to scratch or just sitting around feeling like a stick in the mud. You can give yourself full permission to leave it all behind for now and get completely lost in inspiration.

Think of it Like a Fuel Station

When you're firing on all four cylinders, it's inevitable that you're going to run out of gas eventually. Yet you can't allow yourself to stay on empty or you'll never get what you ultimately want out of scratching. You need to refuel and stay on top of your scratching regularly. Regularly does not mean constantly though. It means finding a balance between your art form and the other things that make life enjoyable to you.

Adding a New Dimension to Your Cuts

A great side benefit to deriving inspiration from other sources beyond yourself is it can get you to think of life differently and how you perceive things. These experiences help shape who you are and who you are will always be reflected in your scratch style.

For example, going on a bold and adventurous hike could lead you to make bolder and more adventurous choices when you scratch. Another experience that can help shape your art might be checking out some abstract paintings. Perhaps your scratching was too straightforward and lacking creativity, but now the paintings you saw have opened your mind to a more exotic style of scratching that really captures your imagination.

Multiple Sources of Inspiration Are Necessary

Be careful not to get too dependent on any one source of inspiration. Doing so could lead to that source becoming watered down and ineffective for you in providing motivation. When you keep a variety of inspirational sources at your fingertips, you'll find that certain things inspire you more at certain times than others. This is great because it means you'll have your bases covered at all times.

You Are Not a Robot

You can't expect to be at peak motivation all the time. Nor can you allow yourself to remain unmotivated regardless of what lead you to feel that way. Sometimes no matter how much you surround yourself with inspiration it just won't be enough.

It will be necessary at times to simply force yourself to take action. This doesn't mean that all that time trying to get motivated was wasted though. The cool thing is once you get going, that inspiration will pour out into your scratching whether you realize it or not. As mentioned earlier, what you surround yourself with becomes a part of who you are and who you are is everything when it comes to expressing yourself with scratching.

If You Don’t Breathe You May Choke – The Benefits Of Silence

Good phrasing in scratching is a lot like writing a good sentence. If done well it will contain all the necessary punctuation to get your point across. If you have a lot to say in one sentence, it helps to break things up by adding commas (or even parenthesis). Sometimes you may need to blatantly pause… for effect. All of these elements create a conversational tone to what you are writing.

If you choose to ignore punctuation in your phrasing, at best you are most likely irritating the listener. It is very typical for a lot of scratch dj's to do this. They go and go, yet rarely stop to see if the listener is still paying attention. When that happens the listener will usually tune out due to overwhelm. Fortunately enough for us, this issue can be remedied.

Are Your Ears On Break?

It may seem obvious that there are countless ways to use silence in scratching. In all honesty though, there are a lot of ways that I was unaware of. One of the key ways is to become a better listener when scratching. Even in a conversation, if you’re the dominant speaker, it helps to give the person you’re speaking to the chance to acknowledge what you’re saying. This can come in the form of words like: okay, yes, right I see.

When this concept is used in a scratch solo, the other person becomes the beat you are scratching over. If you never pause to hear the beat, it can be difficult to know if your scratching is really meshing well. In fact, if you really aren’t paying attention you can really start to clash rhythmically. This is similar to when someone is ready to respond to what you’ve said and they do, but you don’t notice because you’re still talking. It can be a total train wreck!

Picking Up The Pieces

Clearly, unless you enjoy embarrassing moments, avoiding the above scenario is desirable. So let’s define your goal. You want to captivate people with your scratching and give them an enjoyable and memorable experience. If they really enjoy what you do, they’ll likely be back for more.

Pausing regularly, even for brief moments, is a great way to keep track of where you are in the beat and stay in sync with the rhythm. When this happens you will flow more smoothly. You’ll be more at one with the beat and the listener WILL notice. Even if they aren’t really into scratching, you have a better chance of capturing their interest. If they enjoy the beat you’re scratching over, they’ll likely be more into you, simply because you’re blending in with the beat more successfully.

A Strong Accent

There are defining moments in a beat that you should definitely pay attention to. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by taking advantage of this. One such typical way is to pause at the end of a loud snare drum. If one particular snare drum is louder(more dynamic) than the rest, try pausing as soon as it ends. This will naturally bring out more strength in that part of the beat and your solo.

I get an image of a drumhead being punctured or a speaker popping. It’s also similar to adding multiple exclamation points to your sentence!!! Be wary not to overuse this idea as it can become too predictable, but when used in moderation it can really catch your listener off guard. As we all know, being too predictable equals boredom. The opposite is also true. When no one knows what to expect it makes for VERY interesting scratching.

No Need For Crutches

So as you can see, boredom is not a friend of ours. We need to take extra caution to make sure that we’re not over dependent on silence in our scratch solos. The saying, “all good things in moderation, including moderation”, applies here.

There are times when silence can actually be detrimental to what you’re trying to express. You may have a whirlwind of fast, crazy emotion to unload on the listener. If you were to use silence throughout that part of your solo, much of the impact would be lost. By waiting to add silence after you’ve expressed those emotions, you not only get the full idea out properly but you add extra impact by ending in an abrupt manner.

The Balancing Act

Ultimately we want to control silence. Not let it control us. You do this by developing a great sense of when to use it and how much of it to use. Experimentation during scratch practice is a great way to further improve upon this skill. I highly recommend recording and reviewing your scratching to hear if you are violating or emulating the principles laid out in this article.

It may be painful at times to hear mistakes you are making. However, awareness of one’s faults is extremely vital to effectively improving as a scratch dj. You may not even catch all of your mistakes. If you are new to this concept it can be tough to perceive what is right or wrong. That is okay. Going through the process of thinking things through on your own, will do wonders for your awareness. Thus, you’ll find that you’re increased awareness will lead to improvement in many other areas of your scratching.

Sluggish Improvement vs. Heightened Awareness

How many times have you approached a problem thinking you had the solution, only to find moments later that you were trying all kinds of other things to solve it? Or worse, you thought you found the solution and then in the blink of an eye you forgot it already. The sad thing is all of this could've been avoided had you made the effort to do one simple thing. That simple thing is taking notes.

Solutions Don't Come Easy

Yet they come even less easy when we aren't consistently looking for them. You may feel that you're thinking about how to cope with your struggles in scratching, but it's the depth of your thinking that measures the quality of your solutions. Generally, especially in the act of scratching, our thought process is very shallow. This is especially true the less experienced you are at successfully overcoming challenges in your scratching, because you have so many more things to think about that could be going wrong.

When you approach a practice session with a plan to document solutions you come across, your thought process automatically deepens. This is because writing things down takes a lot more focus when scratching then just thinking briefly about what might improve things. Not only because you have to actually stop what you're doing to write things down, but you're automatically going through a review process in order to write it out properly. Additionally, you can come back at any time and review what you wrote further, as well as weigh it out against future sessions that might shed further light on the validity of your previous notes.

Complex Problems Need Serious Care

If you were in school facing an extremely challenging exam and you didn't take any notes during lectures that preceded it, how well do you think you'd do? You would most likely not do well and perhaps even fail. As a serious student, you can bet you wouldn't let that happen. Yet when it comes to practicing the art of scratching, you probably wouldn't even consider taking notes at all. Admittedly for most, it's a pretty foreign concept. However, that level of care will put you head and shoulders above the rest.

Taking Notes Might Not Seem Fun

Guess what is much less fun though. Performing at a mediocre level because you weren't proactive enough to take the actions necessary for greater, faster improvement at scratching. Believe me, having a moment of realization then capturing that moment, is actually more exhilarating than you might imagine. It's the feeling of ensuring all your hard work is going to pay off instead of just hoping it will.

Documenting Your Thoughts Doesn't Come With a Guarantee

Admittedly, taking notes about what you think are solutions to your problems, does not mean that what you write is always going to improve things. However, not writing out your thoughts increases the odds that you don't get your problems fixed in a timely manner, if at all. In fact writing out the wrong solution is actually still a step in the right direction because it makes it easier to eliminate it from the possibilities of what is going to pan out. You don't want to think you have a solution, find out it doesn't work, still not have a working solution and then stumble upon it again, repeating the process. Now you have a document of what to avoid as well.

Before You Find Solutions You Must Find Problems

All this advice is well and great, but what if you don't even know what your problems are? Note taking can still aid you in such situations. If you haven't spent some serious time examining what's wrong with your scratching, you'll be even further behind. Fortunately such a predicament is reversible. Simply follow the advice I've given you in this article, but with problem finding in mind and before you know it, you'll have a whole laundry list of things you can seek out solutions to.

Reviewing is Undeniably Crucial

Note taking is great, but reviewing your notes is where the true power lies. Otherwise, you're just a minor step beyond those who only think about solutions. Repetition is the mother of mastery, so finding a solution and continually reviewing it will get it imprinted permanently in your brain, making it that much more reliable info to actually put into practice. So don't let all your effort to find solutions go to waste. Get out what you put in and watch the results stack up.

Fader Hand Tension – Why Less Equals More

Have you ever felt like you were putting way too much effort into scratching? You push and push and yet your results seem to be pretty stagnant. Well there are several symptoms that could be at the root of your suffering. In this article I plan to focus in on one of them.

This issue typically plagues the beginner worse than anyone, but make no mistake, this can and will affect anyone. I’m talking about unnecessary tension in the fader hand. I want to share with you some ways you can begin to alleviate this problem so you can focus on your development as a scratch dj more freely.

Taking An Assessment

First let’s take a look at your average beginner scratch dj so we can get a better understanding of what I’m addressing. You begin scratching and the fader is all over the place. You just can’t seem to control it. You’re having trouble getting together any proper technique. You’re probably strong arming the fader way too much and straying way too far from the cut off point.

Does Equipment And It’s Settings Play A Role?

Now two things have to be made clear before I go any further. If you want to get the most out of your scratching in the short and long term you need to have your cutoff point set as close to instant as possible. Also it’s ideal to have a very loose fader. I personally love the fader of the Rane 56, but regardless of what mixer you have, nowadays there are options for using scratch friendly faders regardless of what type of mixer you’re using.

No Fader Control, No Dice

Obviously if you have a hard time controlling the fader you will have basically no hope of getting any decent scratches pulled off. The solution to this may seem as obvious as taking the power you’re exerting back a few notches and in a way it is. In fact the solution is actually not much more complex than that.

What you need to realize is that although this will help, you are not through correcting this problem. Ultimately you need to discover with experimentation what the least amount of power is needed to control the fader and only use that. Simple right? Well not so fast. Understand that this is not a fix and forget issue. Only through consistent, highly concentrated awareness can you really reap the benefits of focusing on this method.

Why All DJ’s Will Benefit

This is truly a lesson for scratch dj’s at any level. No matter how well you grasp the concept of minimum power you can always improve your current scratch technique. I personally can attest to this as I’ve gone through many stages of this issue.

Sometimes you may be taking on a new technique and have yet to really gauge what is needed to pull it off. You may be starting off slow and not ready to put a lot of speed into it. You may be doing one technique that requires more energy and power than another technique. Not to mention all the combinations of scratch techniques you already know. As you can see it begins to become somewhat intricate.

Narrowing Down The Process

What we need to do right now is take things down a notch. Several notches in fact. Take the most simplest fader based scratch possible. We’ll use a forward 2 click transform for this exercise.

Execute a simple forward transform scratch over and over at a low tempo such as 60 beats per minute and pay close attention to how much power you’re exerting. Is your forearm, wrist or hand getting sore? Are you pushing the fader too far away from the cut off point? Is the sound of the record running out before you have a chance to finish? These are things you should be asking yourself as you’re performing the transform scratch. If the answer is yes to any of these, try relaxing and releasing as much power as you can while still maintaining control.

Is Doing Nothing A Solution?

Well yes, it can actually be a highly effective solution. However you would not simply be doing nothing and stopping there. You would be resting between each repetition. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid unnecessary tension. So always make sure you bear that in mind.

While it is typical while learning new scratches that there will be some forearm burn, you can usually reduce it substantially by following the advice outlined in this article, especially this particular point. In fact it really doesn’t matter what technique or combinations of techniques you do. Resting between every transition will make a HUGE difference.

What Else Is Choking The Life Out Of Your Potential?

There is another culprit that creates unnecessary tension while scratching and that is unnecessary tension in the body. While it may seem obvious by now that you need to have just the right amount of tension in your hand, wrist and arm, it’s important to note that holding extra tension in other parts of your body can be detrimental as well.

The biggest key here is awareness. You have to pay attention to how you’re feeling while you’re scratching. If you notice that you’re tightening up in your neck, back or another area you’ll need to consider changing your posture and sending a message to your brain to relax. This is a process that will require consistent, focused monitoring so keep alert.

Keeping Things At The Forefront Of Your Mind

One final point I’d like to mention is that you shouldn’t just read this article and then leave it to memory. Use this information to your advantage on a regular basis. You can potentially shave off years of frustration by following this advice. Stay aware, focused and above all else have fun!

If you’d like to know more about this topic there’s an excellent video by my music mentor Tom Hess. While he’s primarily focused on guitar you can easily apply the concepts he’s teaching to scratching as this article has demonstrated. Enjoy: Finger Tension

Magnifying Your Flaws

The ego is a funny thing. When it comes to our musical skills, most of us don’t let our ego rage out of control telling us how amazing we are. We tend to believe that we have a pretty firm grasp on what our current ability of scratching is. Unfortunately, even the most level headed, conscientious individual will have trouble being highly aware of all their scratching flaws.

Sometimes what we want to hear and expect from ourselves becomes what we hear despite the fact that it is not what’s actually happening. Consider a singer who has nearly mastered a popular song. The line between nailing the song and almost nailing it is very thin. As time goes on their vision of what they’re working towards could seemingly come into reality. However, another singer who is also very familiar with the song could likely spot some mistakes that the first singer is making such as occasionally going out of key.

If that person was to be informed that they’re having problems, it may be difficult for them to take the critique seriously. A situation like this could benefit greatly from a recording. If they listened well to a recording of themselves they’d likely catch the mistakes that their mind wasn’t allowing them to hear in the midst of actually singing it. This is great for the singer because they now have the dose of reality they need to tackle the last parts of the song that are preventing them from getting it down cold.

What This Means From A Scratch DJ Perspective

Since scratching is much more physical, video recording would actually be more beneficial for catching all the flaws that are holding you back. With scratching there are so many things that could be improved and in order for it all to sound like you mean for it to sound, you must be very precise. Often times you can be barely off in your scratch technique or timing, so it’s crucial that you have the ability to review your scratching with a critical ear and eye since it’s much harder to catch such minor issues while in the act.

How Often Should You Video Record Yourself?

Well, it really depends on your skill level and needs. However, a good general guideline would be as often as once a week and no less than once a month. If you are practicing scratching daily a month is a long time to go without giving yourself the type of feedback that video recording affords you. Since we’re naturally prone to miss a lot of the flaws without such perspective, letting months and months go by can be dangerously risky.

Even a week can be a long time if your practice efforts are efficient and effective. If you’re working through a quality daily scratch practice strategy your progress should be notable each week. In fact, recording weekly could be an eye opener that your practice strategy may not be as effective as you assumed it was. Video is a good way to review your victories and defeats and gear the following week’s practice schedule towards your scratching problem areas so you can continue to speed up your scratch progress.

Is There Such Thing As Too Much?

While I do believe that weekly recording sessions can be extremely helpful, I understand that it might be tough mentally for someone who doesn’t feel they’re progressing at the rate they want. If you are that type of person you might want to dial back the amount of recording you do to a monthly basis. I must caution you though that you’re probably worrying too much about your feelings and not enough about what you can do to ensure that you will increase your rate of improvement at scratching. The beauty of recording often is the pressure that comes with it melts away. It just becomes a natural and essential part of what you do.

It’s Not Just About Mistakes

Not everything that you want to fix will be a technical issue. You may be doing plenty of things that are technically correct, but don’t necessarily sound good to you. This is an excellent opportunity for you to note what you like and don’t like about your scratch style and begin crafting a style that is much more pleasing to you. This is where your personality starts to shine through a lot more because you’re making personal choices about how you want to ultimately sound when you scratch.

Excuses Will Not Get You Far

Nowadays the cost to record is dirt cheap. Granted it won’t be the ultimate in high definition recording if you go low budget, but that’s irrelevant. You just need a clear enough picture and sound so you can catch all the details of what you’ve captured. Many of you already have a device that captures video like a webcam or cell phone, so even if you plan to get a nice camcorder later on you can still get started today.

The Dark Side of Learning New Scratches

There are so many things to learn in scratching. Even if you're not new to turntablism you can still find yourself feeling overwhelmed. This becomes truer as you start to realize that there really is no end to what can be done on the turntable.

Unfortunately many people don't do anything to address their feelings of overwhelm. They simply keep focusing on more new things. While there is nothing really wrong with learning new things, it is only one piece of the puzzle. The biggest reason why feelings of overwhelm start to rush over you and take hold is because you're not giving yourself enough time to get comfortable with scratches you already know.

Imagine you're at a party filled with hundreds of people. Do you think you will make any worthwhile connection with anyone if you're approach is to say hello to each and every one of them? Obviously you wouldn't, but you would increase your chances tremendously if you limited your time to only a small handful of them. Of course you can increase your social circle further over time, but it's always going to be more valuable to invest time developing friendships than to know tons of people without really knowing them.

Mining for Gold

Approaching scratching from a similar viewpoint is crucial if you ever want to get any true value out of anything you know. This isn't a game to see who knows the most scratches. It's about scratching as expressively as possible with what you know. This will always ring true whether it's something you've been doing for years or something you just picked up the other day.

The Ins and Outs of Refinement

When refining your scratching there are multiple things to keep in mind, but the most important thing is thinking about what your biggest problem is with the particular aspect of scratching you're working on. Sometimes this can be clear as day and other times it will not be so obvious. Two things you can focus on that will make this task easier are to decide what you ultimately want the thing you're working on to sound like and what you're doing that's preventing you from achieving your desired result. As mentioned this will not always be easy, but by investing time to figure it out you increase your odds greatly to getting the issue resolved.

Once you have gotten past it you will want to look at what the next biggest issue is and repeat the process outlined above. Once you get that achieved you will continue tackling the next biggest issue until you have arrived at mastering that aspect of your scratching.

Don't Lose Yourself!

I must warn you that I am not saying to take this approach with just one challenge within your scratching at the expense of everything else you know or new things you want to learn. Doing so would be just as detrimental as doing nothing but learning new things. There has to be a balance, so I recommend singling out a handful of what you know and refining those things. You can have different priorities on a daily basis.

On day one you could try focusing on refining just a few things. On day two you could focus on a few others and so on. You could even have a day reserved solely for working on new things as well, but I would recommend you make that about 20% maximum of your weekly practice time.

Figuring out, understanding and staying on top of your priorities is the best way to ensure that you get the most out of scratching with the least amount of effort. Otherwise you will fall into the trap of spending many hours, weeks, months and even years focusing on the wrong things and improving at a much slower rate than anyone would ever care to progress at. I really doubt you want such a poor outcome for yourself so be sure to stay aware of the actions you're taking.

When Nothing Seems to Work

You may find yourself getting stuck on something because you are either unable to discover what is wrong or you are really unsure about how to get past what is holding you back. In situations like this the most effective thing you can do is seek outside advice. A qualified scratch instructor or high quality scratch instructional material authored by such a person is your best choice and will be invaluable in your quest to achieve your goals.

Scratching In A Band – Expand Your Opportunities

Scratching in a band is not common place. There are many instances of a turntablist performing with other turntablists. However, seeing a turntablist perform with guitarists, bassists, drummers and other types of musicians is a rarity.

While there is nothing necessarily wrong with this, it is unfortunate in the fact that an art form as enjoyable as scratching is getting passed over by many people that would likely welcome it with open arms. The lack of tablists performing with bands stems from the background it sprung from.

Hip-Hop birthed scratching and the bulk of Hip-Hop is based around programmed beats. This eliminated the need for a fully fleshed out band and also brought in a very cool way of performing music that was extremely unique for the time. A lot of great innovation came out of Hip-Hop which has continued to be built upon over the years, not least of which is scratching.

What Breaks Tradition Also Creates It

While Hip-Hop decidedly walked a very different path than other forms of music, it now suffers from the very standards developed to define itself. Like Hip-Hop, turntablism was a significant break from the genre that birthed it, while still maintaining some real roots to the music it came from. In fact I would consider turntablism to be not as disconnected to Hip-Hop as some may think, but rather a dramatic expansion in expressive dj capabilities. Hip-Hop has always been about taking other genres and creating something new out of it and turntablism is really no different. Thus there's no reason to chain tablism to lots of set standards and unnecessary limitations.

What Music Stands To Gain

Looking more in depth at other genres of music, you'll tend to notice at their best, they sound extremely expressive. Yet there's a lack of uniqueness that turntablism so easily captures, simply because genres like jazz and rock aren't nearly as new to the world. Also, in a lot of ways tablism is really an answer to people that don't recognize how truly expressive the turntable is as an instrument.

Turntablists have taken huge strides over the last decade and a half in developing a scratch vocabulary that easily puts them on close to, if not equal footing as other musicians. That being the case it seems only natural to take the next step and join forces with non scratch musicians, continuing to expand our expressive options within music. This is especially beneficial to our development considering the fact that most live instrumentation encompasses much more variety than a typical 4/4 Hip-Hop beat.

They Don't Understand

One issue that crops up when gaining exposure for turntablism, is it tends to be tough to comprehend for people that don't practice the art form. In its most hardcore style, scratching is very percussive and somewhat dissonant since there really isn't a way to generate exact notes within any particular scale. In a lot of ways you could relate it best to rap which also significantly lacks melodic content. However, the beauty of scratching is you're not limited to scratching in such an in your face style.

You can take any melodic sounding record and chop it up in a variety of ways while still retaining the melodic content of such a record. In a band context this means you'd have to be ultra vigilant that the sounds you use are generally in tune with the rest of the band. This doesn't mean that tablists seeking to play in a band should abandon much of the complex scratch vocabulary that exists. In fact possessing a high level of technical aptitude in scratching makes melodic style scratching much easier to facilitate. It also allows you to break up the more melodic style with hardcore cuts should it sound appropriate to do so based on the music your band is performing.

Reaching Ears and Opening Minds

Scratching isn't necessarily a hard pill to swallow for people. It has more to do with how it's presented. Scratching in a more melodic style within a band as described above, is a very effective way to introduce people to turntablism. Seated among music that people already enjoy, scratching can really spice things up in a nice and ear friendly way.

Examples and Ways to Get Started

While it is rare for turntablists to be in a band, it is not unheard of. Some examples of songs or bands featuring scratching that you should check out include: Herbie Hancock 'Rockit' (featuring scratching from DST), Praxis (featuring scratching from TurntablistDisk), Gunkhole (featuring scratching from D-Styles, Ricci Rucker and Mike Boo. The best example being their DVD 'Live In Bologna' which involves a drummer, standup bass player, as well as a sax and flute player) and Secret Sidewalk (featuring scratching from Mike Boo). I have also played in a band and a quick segment of one or our performances can be found here: Live at 19 Broadway

Joining a band isn't as intimidating as it may seem and can be as simple as linking up with even one musician that's not a tablist. Simply place an ad on craigslist or network on sites like twitter and facebook and go from there. Just remember, the goal is making music that's enjoyable regardless of being in a band or otherwise, so have fun scratching and soak in everything that will come your way as a result.

Why Lacking Awareness of Your Progress Kills Motivation

When working to achieve your goals it is very common to think only of your goals as the mark of achievement. While there is some truth to this, if you only think in this manner, it will be very difficult for you to continue moving forward with your scratching. Particularly, if the goals you're working to attain are extremely challenging. The reality is there are many steps of achievement within each and every goal you will ever take on and it is vital to acknowledge and appreciate when you've accomplished them.

When you don't appreciate each moment of progress you experience, your mind tends to focus on only one thing. That thing is frustration and if that's all you're focused on, you will bury yourself in it. Staying motivated in a blanket of frustration is next to impossible. The natural result of this type of negative mindset when scratching is you'll start to believe you can't actually achieve your goal. The more you believe you can't do something, the more it will become true because your mind believes what you tell it. Once you fall that far into disbelief, it'll only be that much more frustrating to withstand the challenges of your goals and like most, you'll probably give up.

Open Your Eyes and See What's There

Admittedly, it isn't always easy to keep track of all your accomplishments, especially if they aren't blatantly obvious. However, it can be done much easier than you may realize. Imagine, you were on a weight loss program and you had a goal to lose 100 pounds. Obviously, losing 100 pounds is not an easy task and if you truly need to lose that much weight, it'll take awhile before you start visually noticing actual weight loss. If you didn't have a scale, you would probably assume within the first few weeks that all your efforts towards your goal are ineffective so why bother. Clearly, that is a foolish way to go about things though and using a tool as simple as a scale to keep track of your progress is extremely common and effective.

Use the Right Tool for the Job

In scratching, progress is more measurable in some areas than others. However, all of your progress can be kept track of with recording. For example, if your goal is to scratch at a very fast speed, you can record yourself scratching over a beat and incrementally increase the speed of that beat until you reach the speed you desire. All the while listening to your recordings to hear how close you are coming to scratching at the level you're aiming for.

When working on something like improvisation, it can be harder to measure in such a clear cut manner as speed, but definitely something that can be put under the microscope. Simply record your freestyle sessions on a regular basis and compare older recordings with current recordings, while thinking of all the areas of your improvisational abilities you wish to improve. The more you listen thoughtfully, the more you should be able to hear how you're advancing in those areas.

When Regression Occurs

Truthfully, not every recording you make will be packed full of progression. You may experience moments of making mistakes you thought you had gotten past already. While on the surface this may seem like a bad thing, it's actually good because now you're aware that some of your practicing methods may not be as effective as you previously thought. This affords you the opportunity to seek out better ways of working to achieve your goals and begin getting much better results. While you may not know what those methods are, there is someone out there that does. I have worked with people such as you and helped them to achieve their goals much faster than they would have otherwise with fully effective and efficient practice regimens. If you feel you're not getting big enough results from your efforts check out my Scratch DJ Lessons.

Take Pride in Yourself

While keeping track of your progress is important, it's only a means to an end. Ultimately, when becoming aware of all of your improvement, you need to take time to actually enjoy the fact that YES, you are definitely moving forward. When you do so you will be happier, have more fun, feel like everything is not as hard as it may have seemed previously and thus continually stay motivated to bust through the obstacles that stand between you and your goals!

Back to Basics

Scratching at its best can be very soulful and funky. Why is it then that so many people under use the techniques necessary to create that funk? I’m sure all of you are very familiar with James Brown. Undoubtedly he has influenced generations of musicians. More importantly though, he has influenced many singers. While some may argue, I believe his strongest influence lies in the grunts, howls and screams he would emit throughout his performances.

Let’s take a closer look at his grunting technique. While this is not technically hard to pull off for most singers, it undoubtedly adds a punch and a feeling to the music that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Like any technique, there are countless ways to grunt and thus many possibilities for soulful expression open up should you choose to explore them. Now picture if you will, a James Brown song without the grunts. If you honestly do this, I’m more than willing to bet you noticed part of the life of the song died.

Getting Caught Up in Flashiness Can Consume You

If most of your energy becomes focused on advanced and flashy technique, you’re like James Brown without the grunts. The backbone of your solos immediately diminishes. Obviously, this is something that should be avoided if you want to develop a truly well rounded, soulful way of expressing yourself.

When you focus on the basics of scratching it helps to highlight the more advanced stuff by breaking it up into more easily digested fragments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating against advanced technique. Advanced technique in scratching is a big part of what makes modern day scratching so amazing and enjoyable. However, the reality is most listeners naturally can’t handle a constant slew of rapidly executed advanced technique. Adding quality, basic technique into the mix more often is like sugar to help make the medicine go down.

Adding Punctuation Makes Your Cuts Pop Out

One of many great ways to use basic technique is as a punctuation mark. After a flurry of flare combos it will usually sound nice to end off with a simple two click transform. This could be seen as a period to your sentence. Alternately, you could end off with a faderless technique, such as a tear. That could be more like an exclamation point.

Some of you may be familiar with my article, ‘If You Don’t Breathe You May Choke’ which focuses primarily on silence as a technique to break up your solos. The concept here is similar, but instead of silence, basic technique is substituted to gain a similar effect on your audience. Check out that article for more information here: ‘If You Don’t Breathe You May Choke

Shredding is Not a Bad Thing

As previously stated, I’m not advocating against advanced technique. Scratching at a rapid pace has a killer sound all its own and has an amazing impact on anyone who really loves scratching. If you’re in the midst of a run consisting of some really hardcore flare combos, extending that run before tossing some basics in could really make a huge impact. Likewise, if you were to end the run too early with a basic technique, the wind in your sails would get knocked out. This would make for a wimpy sounding phrase that doesn’t grab the listener nearly as much as you may have intended.

So What Basic Techniques are Worth Focusing On?

The first thing to recognize is that all basic techniques, once highly developed can be considered or lead to advanced technique. This distinction is important, because as scratchers we tend to divide techniques up into basic and advanced categories. While this is helpful it can also be hurtful if you fail to realize that even basic techniques can be highly advanced with the right amount of development.

As stated in the early part of this article, a singer’s grunts can be expressed in a myriad of ways. The same is true with basic technique in scratching. A tear scratch for example has tons of variations to discover and perfect.

All that being said though, here is a list of techniques that I recommend using when implementing the concepts in this article:


Keep in mind this list is actually quite incomplete as there are so many variations of each of these scratches to do. However, for now it’s best that you discover these variations on your own. It is out of the scope of this article to go further in depth. In future articles I will spend more time discussing certain techniques that I believe deserve attention.

Isolation, Then Integration is Key!

Now that you have read this article you may be tempted to jump right in and start combining basic kuts with advanced ones. While I don’t think this is a bad idea, I strongly recommend that you work on your basic scratch technique in isolation. By doing this you give your basics more room to develop into stronger sounding technique with wider variety. The more you work in isolation the more impact you’ll make when integrating it with your advanced techniques.

Some experimentation will be necessary as it’s typical that not all variations you come up with will integrate smoothly into an advanced run. You will have to really listen and pay attention to hear if the basic technique you have chosen truly compliments what you are combining it with. This takes time and is the hallmark of many an outstanding musician.

The Dangers of Playing it Safe

We all know that the key to improvement is to challenge yourself, but how much are you actually challenging yourself? Are you guilty of being too realistic? What do I mean when I say realistic? Well being realistic in terms of scratching and the challenges you take on, simply means assessing you're current scratch skills and then creating challenges for yourself that don't go too far beyond your comfort zone. While this is actually not a bad strategy for decent gains in skill over the long term, it is not a be all, end all way to approach scratching.

Lack of Comfort Creates Comfort

Sometimes you have to take a challenge that you normally face and double or triple its difficulty. The benefit to this may not be obvious at first. Of course your natural instinct is to feel that if you're already struggling with an easier challenge, why is multiplying its difficulty going to be any easier or less frustrating? It starts in the mind. Your mind is virtually capable of doing anything you set out to do, so if you're always playing it safe, you're just setting your belief system up to think you can only achieve minor things.

Being Unrealistic Pays

When you get more accustomed to thinking unrealistically, what seemed unrealistic before becomes reality. Aside from the mental aspect, you need to become physically used to high levels of physical difficulty. You'll never get a feel for what it's like to scratch at ridiculously high speeds for example, if you never attempt to do so. Sure you could wait until you're truly ready, but you're going to do that anyway. You might as well attempt to now so when the time comes for you to scratch comfortably at such speeds, you're already mentally and physically prepared to do so.

Don't Get Carried Away

I realize that my advice may sound amateurish, but that's only if taken out of context. I am not saying to do what many beginners do and scratch wildly out of your comfort zone regularly. I'm merely pointing out that you should integrate going way beyond your level of comfort into the other scratch skill building strategies you are or should be using to reach the level of scratching you aim to achieve.

There are many times where multiplying the difficulty of what you're working on will not be so helpful. Just as being realistic is not the only way to achieve your goals, neither is being wildly unrealistic. You must find a balance between the two as one feeds the other and vice versa.

Being Unrealistic in the Real World

Here is a challenge to give you a better feel for how you can actually apply this strategy. This exercise has to do with increase of speed, but keep in mind that what I've spoken about thus far is not only limited to challenges dealing with speed.

Put on a 4/4 beat that you can comfortably execute four notes per beat over. A regular challenge would be to increase your speed to five notes per beat. Instead what you will attempt to do instead is scratch eight notes per beat. Don't worry about how comfortable you feel or how clean it sounds. Just push yourself as hard as possible and keep trying even if you don't achieve it by the end of the exercise.

After you complete the exercise, drop back down to the more realistic challenge of five notes per beat and see how much more comfortable and at ease you feel now. When you started the exercise, four notes per beat was your comfort level, but now five notes per beat, whether you can execute it yet or not, will seem like nothing compared to the extreme challenge of doubling what you're currently able to handle.

Mental Barriers Come Tumbling Down

Navigating through such extremes will take the edge off more realistic challenges and you'll begin achieving higher levels of scratching faster. This happens because your mind is your biggest barrier to achieving anything. If you don't believe you can handle something with ease than you won't. It's really that simple.

Unfortunately suspending one's belief is easier said than done, which is why creating physically demanding challenges like the exercise above, will force your mind to accept the truth that lies behind mental barriers in scratching and what it takes to push past them. Seeing is believing rings very true here. Thus, I invite you to get creative by thinking of, then trying many ways of being unrealistic.

Never Get It Wrong – The Power of Isolation

Have you ever tried to learn a simple phrase in a foreign language? Perhaps you were planning on visiting another country and you needed to learn it and most likely other phrases that were critical for communicating things to the locals. In most cases like this, we tend to learn just enough to get by.

Getting by might be acceptable for simple trips, but what if you planned to move there and really immerse yourself in the culture long term? If you really want to be accepted and build strong, high quality relationships with the people there, you'd probably take learning their language much more seriously. Let's take it even further and assume that you want to learn the language to the point where even locals can't tell simply by hearing you that you're not from the area. With a goal like that, there's really no room for error. You'd literally have to talk the talk on a consistent basis.

Of course this may all seem very daunting for someone who hasn't learned a lick of the language yet. However, if you were to focus on simply one word and repeat it incessantly until you get it absolutely picture perfect you'd be hard pressed to ever get it wrong again. If you truly want to master scratching your goal should NOT be to simply get by. It should be to express yourself in the most fluent way possible 100% of the time.

A Big Piece of the Puzzle

This method of isolation that I alluded to in the previous example is a big part of what it will take for you to overcome your challenges in scratching and ultimately perfect your scratch technique. I refer to this method as drilling and if it's not a part of your current practice routine it should be. If you are faced with a challenge in a specific technique, random freestyle scratching and occasionally throwing that technique into your soloing will likely make it take much longer if not impossible to ever get past the problems you're encountering. When you drill a specific technique in isolation you are effectively shutting out all distractions when scratching and allowing yourself the chance to really get to the bottom of what is holding you back from improving.

Taking Things to Further Extremes

In fact it is possible that you may only be struggling at one aspect of a technique. In this kind of situation, you will need to isolate things even further and just drill that one aspect of the technique that is preventing you from performing it correctly. Perhaps things are worse for you and you just aren't grasping the technique at all. The strategy of extreme isolation is still the best way to approach it. Only now there are multiple parts to the technique that need to be broken down into their own specific drills before you'll be ready to put it all back together again and drill the full technique without such severe isolation.

Different Drills for Different Needs

While the above drills work well for techniques you are suffering big problems with, they don't necessarily work for other issues such as phrasing. When phrasing you are stringing together a group of techniques to create something where all the techniques sound like they're really meant to go together. Individually you might seem to have no issue performing any of the techniques you want to use in the phrase, but things tend to fall apart once you begin combining scratch techniques.

There are many reasons why this may be so, like timing, rhythmic feel, and contrast in speed or pitch as well as many other possible challenges. A great way to approach such a problem would be to isolate your phrase to only two techniques at a time. Work hard to see what approach will be best to make the transition from one technique to the next to sound the smoothest. Then once you feel you've achieved something you're pleased with, add an additional technique to the phrase and drill that. Often times it's the transition between one scratch technique to the next that is most difficult so you will likely have to go back to extreme drilling. Only unlike extreme drilling with a single technique, in the context of a phrase you would be drilling the transition only.


While drilling is mostly best for getting past major challenges it can also be used to refine scratching that you aren't necessarily struggling with, but are getting close to mastering. This goes back to just getting by vs. perfecting things. Drilling something that you can do well, but haven't mastered will lead you to mastery much quicker than you would otherwise.

Making the Most of Your Practice Time

Keep in mind that items that you are struggling with most deserve much more practice time and things that only need refinement deserve much less attention. If you put too much effort towards drilling practice items that only need refinement you stand to progress at a very slow rate. No one wants to intentionally slow their rate of progress down so be sure to avoid allocating improper amounts of time to what you practice. While it is not impossible to judge what deserves the most vs. the least attention during practice, it's not necessarily easy either. If you need help designing a practice schedule that fits your needs and the amount of time you have to practice throughout any given week, be sure to visit this link: Scratch DJ Training

Why Confusing Jamming with Practice is Detrimental

Practicing is the most important thing you will ever do as a turntablist. How you practice determines everything you will ever accomplish with scratching. If you practice regularly and effectively you can basically guarantee that you will achieve the results you desire and achieve them at a rate far quicker than someone who is practicing ineffectively. Unfortunately, many do not understand the importance of practice, much less what effective scratch practice entails.

To most, simply putting on a beat and jamming freely over it is what they consider practice. While this is not a complete waste of time, it is certainly not an effective use of practice time and quite frankly is not actual practice. Real practice consists of determining categories of specific items to work on and how much time must be spent on each item in your practice schedule based on your current strengths and weaknesses. If you are not doing this, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.

Avoiding Problems vs. Creating Them

Think back to any conversation where you misinterpreted what the other person was trying to communicate to you. In most cases, that misinterpretation probably led to a problematic outcome. Had you truly understood what they were trying to get across in the first place, you would've had a much better chance of preventing whatever problems resulted from misunderstanding them.

When you confuse jamming with practicing you're essentially doing the same thing. This can be much worse than misunderstanding a simple conversation. Afterall, if you never gain true knowledge of what effective practice actually consists of, you could potentially waste years and years of your life never really achieving many of your scratch goals.

The Flip Side

Keep in mind, there is still a time and place for jamming. In fact, you can have the opposite issue if you get too heavily involved in practicing. While practicing effectively should make up the bulk of your scratching, if you never give yourself time to freely jam over a beat, you're not really giving yourself a chance to flex all the scratching muscles you're developing during practice. Ultimately, scratching is all about expressing yourself and stirring up emotion in your listeners. Thus, it's very important to set aside some time for jamming regularly where you can leave all your concern for the problems you've been working on behind for a bit.

Common Jamming Pitfalls

If you're truly working to progress regularly with an effective scratch practice strategy, it will be tough at times to shut out the inner critic when you're strictly jamming. What I'm advocating is not to avoid critiquing yourself when jamming, but to not be overly critical. Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes when scratching. You can take quick mental notes as you encounter problems, but you don't want to start breaking into practice exercises to fix those issues in the middle of jamming or you'll break the flow of your expression. You can always attack those problems later during your actual practice time.

An even better way to not let your worries drag you down during a jam is to record yourself scratching in audio or video and critique your jam afterwards. This will give you a much better chance to enjoy jamming and also make it easier to determine what the actual issues you're facing are. Often times in the moment of jamming, it is much more difficult to figure out what is being executed correctly or not. With a recording you have the opportunity to hear yourself from an outside perspective, as well as the ability to continually review anything that stands out to you as something to be concerned with.

With True Clarity Comes Great Responsibility

Now that you have a much better picture of what jamming and practicing are, you owe it to yourself to start creating a much more effective practice strategy for yourself. Understandably, this isn't always easy to do. Depending on your experience, you may not really know yet what specific areas deserve your attention during practice. To help get you started, I highly recommend you check out this great resource of practice topics I have written about here: Effective Scratch DJ Practice Strategies

While the topics I've covered should be of great help to you, you'll likely have more indepth issues that are very specific to you as an individual in need of attention. If you feel this is the case, be sure to go to this page and contact me directly with your concerns: Scratch DJ Lessons

Are You Caught in a Delusion of Ruts?

Being in a rut is an all too common problem for many people who scratch. Not surprisingly, this causes tons of frustration for anyone who believes they are in such a rut. Often times this can lead to you losing the joy you experience when scratching, or even worse loss of motivation to scratch at all. Ruts are an all too real problem. Or are they?

Why would you ever doubt the existence of ruts? After all, you’ve likely been hearing about them from every walk of life imaginable for so long, you’d probably feel like a fool to consider that they could just be a fallacy. So when you begin to feel you are suffering from one, it only becomes more real to you.

Subtle Improvement

What if you were to reject popular belief for now in order to consider what is really behind this so called rut of yours? Perhaps you’re experiencing a lack of growth in your scratch skills. You feel like you’ve been at it for awhile and there is no obvious progress taking place. What you have to understand is that, while you may have high expectations of yourself, you’re not necessarily going to see any big advancement over night.

In fact you’ve probably also had the experience of feeling like you were in a rut and suddenly you have a major breakthrough seemingly out of nowhere. How can this be so? Well the truth is you were never in a rut. You were simply going through the process of improvement. You made mistake, after mistake, after mistake, all the while getting closer to hitting the nail on the head. So what happened? You stayed persistent with your scratching until you finally achieved what seemed like such a big struggle before.

Frustration Takes Over

When you have a big challenge on your hands it may seem overwhelming because you are constantly comparing your current skill with that of what you want it to be. As you continue to struggle through, you start accumulating all these experiences of frustration caused by not yet achieving your goal. So much so that a lot of times you’ll fail to realize how much closer you’re actually getting to what you set out to do originally and all your focus gets fixated on your frustration from scratching instead. This type of thinking is really pointless and here we are, right back to believing we’re in a rut.

A Change of Focus Makes a World of Difference

If you look back to the previous perspective you’ll see that part of it was right. Focusing on what you ultimately want to achieve with each goal you set for yourself is important. However, focusing too much on the struggle is clearly taking the life out of something you should be having fun doing. So what you must focus on instead is each little victory you make along the way to your goal.

Now you might be saying to yourself, "What victories? I haven’t succeeded yet." Think of all your mistakes when scratching as a learning experience. Not one to think that you’re just not getting it, you’re not good enough, or any other garbage you’ve been feeding yourself. Take the time to actually think about what’s going wrong and how you can fix it.

It’s so easy to bang away at something without really thinking, but successful people don’t do this. Successful people recognize that taking the time to analyze what’s holding them back is worth doing because they believe, whether they know the answer or not, they will get to the bottom of things. So each time they make a mistake they realize it’s worth celebrating, because now they have another thing they can learn from and this type of mindset will inevitably lead to larger victories.

The Many Faces of Ruts

So now you might be saying to yourself, "Well that’s great, but I’m not having that kind of rut. I’m having a creative block." Or perhaps you have some other issue that you consider to be slowing you down to a screeching halt. You can’t let it get to you though. You have to realize that all of these kinds of feelings you’re experiencing are really just your mind signaling to you that you need to take a step back and truly think about what’s wrong and how you can fix it.

Sulking about it isn’t going to do any good. The brain loves to problem solve and if you just muck about, you’re not allowing it to do what it does best. You may not have the answer now, but if you get used to thinking of ways to resolve your scratch problems, you will resolve them. It’s a healthy habit to develop that WILL yield results.

The First Step is Faith

Faith in yourself. Faith in your goals. Faith in the capacity of the human brain. And why shouldn’t you have this faith? Look around you. There are many who have achieved great feats in scratching. At one time or another, they were no different than you. Cultivate faith and then take action!

Disposable Problems

Becoming better at scratching can create feelings of inferiority. You may have goals to be extremely fast, have a highly complex flow, or many other things. However, if you're not anywhere near those goals you're likely to feel upset about your ability and start overcompensating as a result. Overcompensation often leads to thinking you're not doing enough. Not moving fast enough, not doing enough intricate movements and so on. Unfortunately, this line of thinking only leads to more frustration with your scratching as you start piling on more problems instead of eliminating them.

Fundamentally Shift Your Thinking

Take a moment to think about how a sculpture is created. When you watch a sculptor work, what are they doing? Are they bringing in extra material and tacking it onto the material they started with, or are they carefully chiseling down what they already have? Clearly the answer is the latter.

How does this relate to scratching you might be thinking? Well, you may not physically have a block of material to carve down, but you do have the ability to create a vision of what you want to ultimately be as a scratch dj. This goes back to goals you already have in mind. You got the first part right by actually having specific goals (and if you don't you really need to). So now it's time to get the second part correct by viewing things in terms of elimination.

Taking Out the Trash

If you're familiar with my writing, you know I'm a big fan of tossing out the unnecessary such as too much tension, movement or negative thinking when scratching. If something isn't working, why would you want to continue doing it, let alone doing it in a more extreme manner? Think of it like a needle in a haystack. In order to find the needle you need to get rid of all the hay that's covering it up or you'll never find it!

Taking speed as an example, you would start with the goal of being ultra fast. You would then look at what great speed in scratching actually is and how people with great speed are achieving it. Next, you would decipher what are you doing that they aren't and eliminate it. Some aspects of what to do will be obvious and some won't. Don't sell yourself short though. With enough thought, patience and action, you will find the solution you seek. For more information on achieving great speed go here: Free Scratch DJ Report

Too Much Time and Too Little Knowledge

You might find that it's taking too long to find and eliminate all the problems you're suffering from. While thinking on your own about how to solve issues can be a great way to develop your problem solving skills for the better, it doesn't mean that you have to do everything alone. It is always smart to seek out a highly knowledgeable scratch mentor who has achieved what you want to achieve and personally learn from them.

Just realize that even though they're successful at doing what you want for yourself, it doesn't necessarily mean that they'll be able to transfer that success to you. You need someone that will have a truly vested interest in your success. They must also remember what it was like to go through all the challenges you're currently facing, how they got through them and distill that information into highly effective problem solving strategies. Otherwise you'll just be increasing your problems instead of decreasing them.

Using This Information on a Macro Level

While it is useful to think in terms of individual techniques and goals, in order to get truly worthwhile results you'll need to apply the process of elimination to much bigger things like relationship, career and health goals. Often times what's holding you back in scratching is something larger than you'd imagine. Let's face it, how can you really be at the pinnacle of success if you're suffering greatly in any of these areas of life? It's all connected, so if you're troubled in one area it will surely affect the others. Don't allow yourself to create more turmoil. Take charge of your success and take charge now!

Scratching Away From the Turntable – Mental Scratch Strategy

Improvisation is a very important part of scratching. Although there are methods for writing scratch solos such as TTM, scratching has a rich history of being primarily improvisation driven (more commonly known amongst turntablists as freestyling). A typical approach to improvisation is to take what you already know how to do and create solos on the spot with your current skill set. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, what happens if you run into a physical limitation because the idea you want to use is beyond your current ability? Typically we might work around such a problem by either avoiding it completely or by working on that idea later in isolation.

If you choose to avoid the idea you are intentionally hampering your creativity and will eventually hit a brick wall should you make avoiding such challenges habitual. If you choose to work on it in isolation you will likely have an easier time integrating it into your improvisation as time goes on. However, if the idea is too challenging, it may take quite awhile before you’ll be able to successfully integrate it and even worse, you may fall back on avoiding it out of frustration.

Good improvisation is like any other skill and will take time and patience to develop. That being said, there is a way to speed up the process and significantly increase your scratching creativity. Imagine you have no physical limitations and can perform any idea that comes to mind. With such ability, your creativity could really soar!

Believe It Or Not, This Is Something You Can Do Right Now!

Let’s take a few steps back and picture that we are an abstract artist and we want to create a very expressive painting. Before we even set foot near a canvas, we’re already thinking of the mood we want to create, what kind of colors we want to use, different kinds of shapes and other abstractions that will make the painting come alive. More importantly, our ideas of what we want to paint are vivid and we can envision it clearly. During this thought process there isn’t a single notion about being unable to create the painting. We are completely absorbed in our own creativity.

This type of approach is something you should be doing regularly when working on improvisation. When you create improvised solos in your mind nothing is off limits. The tempo, note groupings, speed at which everything is executed and every other element is all up for grabs. You can create scratch solos that are not only outside of your own current skill level, but above and beyond anything you’ve ever heard before as well. This is why improvising in your mind is such a powerful tool for your creativity and will allow you to be very self expressive.

There Is A Time And A Place

And that time and place can be literally anywhere at any time! Think about what it takes to actually scratch. First off you have to make time to do so. Secondly you have to be somewhere that a turntable and mixer is set up. I’m sure you can think of plenty of times where you had the desire to scratch, but didn’t have the time or access to gear in order to make it happen. Furthermore, I’m sure there are plenty of times throughout the day where you are doing something that doesn’t require a lot of thought, such as driving to work, taking an elevator, waiting in line at the grocery store or simply trying to sleep.

These are all great times to work on mental improvisation. For one thing it will make those types of activities much more enjoyable. For another, all of the time you spend working on it during these moments of your life adds up pretty quickly. By the time you are back in front of your set up and ready to scratch, you’re really excited and have a whirlwind of ideas to explore.

That Excitement Turns Into Motivation

Not only are you excited about all the possibilities, but you have a much clearer picture of where you want your scratch style to go. This can be extremely motivating when you come across physical barriers in your technique. Now that your creative ideas are stronger in your mind, it won’t be a question of not being able to do what you want, but more a matter of looking forward to when you can. With this type of mind set, patience and persistence becomes virtually unlimited.

Additionally you will have more focus on what to work on and likely won’t waste time on things that don’t fall in line with what you want to express. Once you have obtained this level of focus, you can speed up the learning process of scratching exponentially.

So How Do You Get Started?

If this concept is new to you, it might feel a bit abstract and possibly overwhelming to attempt. A simple remedy to this is to listen to the type of beats you would want to improvise over and mentally solo over them. In this day in age with all the mobile devices that exist, you can do this pretty much anywhere. Of course once this concept of mental improvisation is firmly planted in your mind you should have little need for such a crutch, but it’s a great way to get the ball rolling.

Inspiration Lost? Recapture Your Fire

Practicing is a very important part of our growth as scratch musicians. So why do we find at times that our motivation to do so is very low? In fact, lack of motivation can occur quite often. Especially if you’re unaware of ways to inspire yourself to scratch and stay consistently on the correct track.

Think back to a time when you were extremely unmotivated to practice and thus, didn’t. Do this now. Don’t read another word until you do! Did you do it? If not you MUST or you will not get the full benefit of this article.

If you truly thought of such a time, I’ll bet one thing stood out more than anything else. A feeling of helplessness. You may have had so much in mind that you wished to achieve and yet it felt like nothing in the world was going to get you to practice. Without the right source of motivation, that’s exactly what is going to happen. You won’t practice and the gap between you and your goals gets wider.

Common Sources Of Inspiration

Before we delve further, it’s important for you to know that there are many external sources of inspiration to surround yourself with. These kinds of inspiration include, but are not limited to:

• Music by your favorite artists
• Excellent movies filled with subtle or obvious life lessons
• Great achievements by outstanding sports players
• World changing events like the destruction of the Berlin Wall

Sources of inspiration such as these can be highly motivating and effective during normal moments where motivation to scratch is lacking.

The Well That Keeps On Giving

While the above examples of inspiration are helpful, they will NEVER be strong enough to keep you on constant fire. So what is a source of inspiration that keeps you determined to scratch and tough to knock off course? Believe it or not, that source is YOURSELF. Reread the last sentence. This is so important that not only do you need to reread it, but I’m going to repeat it right now. The source of inspiration that will keep you the MOST determined and tough to knock off course is YOURSELF!

Staying Motivated Is A Choice

That’s right. Despite what some may have you believe, it is completely within your grasp to make this decision. You MUST make this choice though, should you wish to achieve your goals. There is no room for being on the fence in this situation. You must choose to be highly motivated and committed, or being unmotivated and having little commitment will be chosen for you. There truly is no middle ground.

Know Thy Self

Still lacking motivation you say? Still only possessing inklings of aspirations you say? While making the choice to stay consistently motivated is your decision to make, no one said it was going to be an easy choice. Or is it?

You must first take a trip of self discovery. You may have clear set goals. You may have foggy notions of goals. You may have almost no goals at all. When looking at what it is we want to achieve in life, we tend to be in the habit of only looking on the surface.

I can totally relate as I was in a similar position myself for many years. While I had clear goals in mind, I didn’t consciously understand what was behind those goals. Back in 2009 I had the pleasure of experiencing what happened to be a defining moment in my life. This opportunity came way through my membership in the Music Careers Mentoring Program. It was a test designed to determine my strongest desires in life. I invite you to take this test and see for yourself how powerful this will be for you. You can access this test for free here: Take The Test.

The Risk Of Commitment

True commitment to your goals is a risky proposition. At least that’s what many tend to believe. I offer an alternate way to view this so called reality. What’s more risky? Staying in a box where anyone who’s supposedly above you can dominate you and put your dreams indefinitely on hold (ie: being chained to someone else’s expectations of what your life should be)? Or taking control of what’s rightfully yours (ie: true fulfillment of one’s destiny)?

One will lead you to a grave filled with regret while the other will bring you the one key thing that makes life worth living. That key thing is happiness. I honestly believe that in my very core. The reality is the latter is actually the least risky. Both are forms of risk though. No action is riskless. Being frozen in fear only brings pain. Don’t allow yourself to be that person.

All Obstacles Welcome

If you gain nothing else from this article, observe my points about risk. By simply acknowledging this fact of life, you’ve already won more than half the battle. Knowing and understanding risk in its true form will carry you far. When applied during moments where motivation is lacking, you have the potential to immediately blast through obstacles in your scratching and get moving.

Pattern Generation – Infinite Possibilities

Ideas are being thought of and expressed all over the world at every second of every hour, all day, every day. One idea shared can lead to a multitude of other ideas, which in turn can lead to many more. At times it can seem like there’s no end to new ideas for better or worse. As a musician this is an exciting proposition. It means if you keep your mind and ears open and continually put effort towards your craft, you’ll never run out of new things to express.

Let’s break this down to something really specific within scratching and that is pattern generation. There are a lot of patterns that exist already within scratching. New patterns are being created all the time. It may be subtle or even obvious, but it’s happening. If it wasn’t, scratching wouldn’t have advanced to the point that it has from its humble beginnings. So then, it’s safe enough to assume that if it’s happening now it will continue for as long as scratching exists.

Essential Ingredients

Pattern generation is a vital part of scratching for a variety of reasons. For starters, it breathes new life into something older that’s becoming stale in the minds of those itching to explore new territory with scratching. It keeps things fresh for the fans that would otherwise get bored of hearing the same thing over and over again. No matter how much someone loves something, the natural order of things is to crave change.

Delving into pattern generation will advance the practitioner by expanding their vocabulary. Thus allowing them to express themselves more deeply and freely. This in turn allows the artform to grow further. Especially when taking into account that it’s not just one person working out new scratch patterns.

No Need For Ruts

It’s important for scratch dj’s to recognize that ruts essentially do not exist. I say essentially because most of us can remember at least a few times where we felt like we were in one. You need not continue to allow so called ruts in your scratching to control our creativity. It’s outside the scope of this article to get into all the strategies of avoiding or getting out of ruts. However, in the case of pattern generation I will discuss ways to keep the spark of creativity going.

Another Way To Skin A Cat

Sometimes you may want to hold back on creating new patterns of scratches. This may seem like a contradiction given that the majority of this article, advocates the benefits of pattern generation. What you need to recognize though is if all you ever do is work on new patterns you will never master the older ones you’ve already learned. You have to place equal importance on getting things down so you can maximize the expressive potential within any one particular pattern.

Potential Realized

Let’s focus on a simple example of pattern generation. Take any three scratch techniques that you know. Arrange them in any order. Now ask yourself the following questions:

1.How fast do I want to do each technique?
2.Do I want to do each technique at different speeds or similar speeds?
3.How many times do I want to do each technique before moving on to the next one?
4.What tempo will the beat be that I will execute this pattern over?
5.Will this pattern be a good way to start my solo or end my solo?

Keep in mind this is just one example of how a pattern can be created. As you can already see a lot of thoughts have been raised by carrying out this simple exercise. There are many more questions you can ask yourself within this example and you can also start the exercise off differently. For instance, take only two techniques and feed them into the formula. Or four techniques even. Math is a great way to play with pattern ideas. It really boils down most times to basic addition and subtraction.

Soaking It In

Feeling the impact of a concept like infinity can certainly be overwhelming. We need not be overwhelmed though. If realizing the endless possibilities of what you can create is too intimidating it can have the opposite effect. Remember, putting a self imposed rut on yourself is not the goal. Self expression through scratching is really the goal here.

Just because there are infinite possibilities doesn’t mean you have to now suddenly pressure yourself to come up with whopping loads of patterns all at once. Take it easy and enjoy the ride. By creating new scratch patterns over time you help create a longer lasting love for what you do. Enjoy the ride.

Expect the Unexpected

Great thriller movies contain lots of surprising moments, elements of calm and extreme excitement. When you watch a truly good thriller, you are likely on the edge of your seat for a good chunk of the movie. No matter how much you want to believe you won’t get thrown off guard, you always do.

Likewise a bad thriller just comes off cheesy because of the severe predictability of it all. It can potentially become comical because there is virtually no suspense and you have to laugh just to deal with the writer’s lack of imagination. The same can be said for scratching.

Clearly, sounding cheesy and boring are not goals of the vast majority of us. A great way to avoid putting people to sleep is to use a rhythmic technique called rubato. For those unacquainted with the term, the definition of rubato is as follows: The temporary disregarding of strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slackening. Or in more simple terms, not playing in strict time.

Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

It is a mistake to think that just because you’re scratching over a steady rhythm that you are chained to scratching steady too. If you lock into a groove and spit out a constant stream of 8th notes, it won’t matter how cool your mixture of scratch techniques or pitches are. People will disregard that because they’ll be fixated with your lack of rhythmic variety.

When you use rubato, each note now has its own personality. It’s similar to being at a party and not knowing who’s going to arrive next. All kinds of different people will show up randomly. Although some may be similar, none will possess exactly the same traits. Furthermore, you’ll have no expectation of who each person will be until they show up.

Don’t Beat Your Audience Over The Head

Being constantly unpredictable can be exhausting. If every moment of your solo was wildly random, you would begin to suffer from the very problem you were trying to avoid in the first place. A calm between storms gives the listener a chance to catch their breath and recuperate. Your job as the soloist is to know when the audience is close to full recuperation and then hit them again. You NEVER want them to completely recover.

When you spend more concentrated effort on rubato you may likely run into another issue. Your rubato could become formulaic. Meaning, every time you decide to break out rubato, you get stuck scratching the same way. What you must recognize with rubato and pretty much everything else, is there are always going to be alternate ways to do things. Thus, it’s important that you continually work out several ways of executing the rubato technique.

Tears, Flares And Tear Flares

There are a variety of scratches that are well suited to rubato. Take a tear scratch for example. You can do a two forward, one back tear scratch all in the same rhythmic division or you could break things up a bit. For example, the first motion of the tear could be one long, sustained note, while the second and third motion could be really rapid sounding.

You could also do a 2 click flare, where the first 2 clicks on the forward stroke of the record are quick, but you let the record
continue moving forward and then slowly pullback the record and click towards the end of the reverse motion. This would make for a highly unpredictable 2 click flare.

You could also take the first example of the tear scratch and add any number of flare combos and timing of the flares to it. Now imagine you combine all three of these examples into a string of phrases. By now it should be clear how entertaining your scratching will become with a large vocabulary of rubato at your disposal.

Outside The Scratch World

Rubato is quite an old concept and yet it is so under used amongst many musicians. The most notorious musician and master of rubato is none other than Chopin. While masterful, instrumental piano work from the Romantic Era is a far cry from modern day turntablism, it would do you a world of good to familiarize yourself with Chopin’s works. See a performance of Opus 28 here: Chopin
24 Preludes Op. 28

I’m sure if you take the time to listen, you will hear plenty of great rubato exhibited. A special thanks goes out to my music mentor Tom
, who has helped me to intellectualize the concept of rubato and recommended Chopin as well. I developed my rubato unconsciously as many musicians have. However, once you become conscious of such things as rubato, your level of development will thrive because you now have clearer focus on what to work towards. Not to mention, motivation because of the value that goes along with it.

Is Your Style Full of Poor Choices?

In scratching there are so many cool and not so cool styles out there. Some are trendy, and although you may not personally enjoy them, it seems as if many are doing everything possible to keep such styles thriving. Like most trends in the world, you'll also likely find that many are following them despite their own personal opinion of it all. On the opposite side of the spectrum you'll have others discounting trends simply because they are trends. What both camps are forgetting, or perhaps not aware of at all, is that in order to truly express yourself with scratching you need to follow what your tastes naturally embrace whether it's trendy or not.

Time Can be Your Worst Enemy

If something doesn't grab you, there's absolutely no reason to force it. Even if it seems like you're the only one that doesn't like it, you must have the courage to stand alone and let it pass you by. Time is precious. If you're spending time learning things you don't like in addition to the things you do, imagine how much more time consuming achieving a high level of it all will be.

The saddest part is eventually you will likely start dropping things anyway, whether it's the good or the bad stuff, simply due to overwhelm. When this happens you could end up losing some of the better parts of your style to make way for things that don't even really fit you well. Now you're even further away from your ideal sound and you will NEVER get all the time you spent back. Not only that, but you also have to work even harder now to rediscover all the things you do like, as well as having to break the habit of scratching in ways you dislike.

So How do You Decipher What's Not Worth Your Effort?

In scratching you have many elements to consider. Technique, genre, tempo, samples used and techniques and styles associated with those samples, as well as many other aspects worth considering. For example, if you don't like Electro or some other genre, don't spend time learning to scratch over it. Yes many have done and continue to do it. Yes many will argue that it's one of the best ways to learn how to scratch fast because of the typically high tempos that electro is known for. However, if you don't like electro than you don't like electro and nothing you do will ever sound convincing over it. Just like if you get zero enjoyment out of listening to Polka music. Why would you spend any amount of time trying to express yourself as a Polka artist?

Tailor Your Development

With all the clutter out of the way you now have way more room to delve deep into the styles you do enjoy. You are a unique individual with your own set of fingerprints and your own combination of life experiences. You will also likely not only enjoy one style of scratching. Thus basing your style on a combination of others will lead to a voice unique to you. Of course there are other aspects that lead to true self expression, but this is a big part of it.

Be Aware of an Untrained Ear

It's important to understand that the less exposure you have to scratching, the less you will be able to decipher various styles and what really stands out for you as one you enjoy. Don't fret though because listening to your gut when glaring dislikes come your way will save you a ton of time. As you continue to develop your ear for scratching, you can keep refining the direction you want to head in and more easily pick apart the undesirable from the desirable.

Some Doors Must Stay Open Before They Close

Like everything, there are exceptions to the rule. There may be certain styles that are less than desirable to you, yet contain some potential towards the sound you actually want to craft for yourself. You have to really take a look under the hood and think if it's really worth your time to work on it. If so, be sure to not put more focus than necessary on it and have a goal in mind of bending it toward your own way of doing things so that it makes more sense to your overall style and what you enjoy hearing.

Some Final Words on Uniqueness

Uniqueness does not mean being unique for uniqueness' sake. It simply means finding yourself and highlighting it. As mentioned, your total life experiences do not equal out to anyone else's. It's literally impossible, so you will already naturally sound unique when scratching. All you're really trying to do is go beyond what's natural and be much bolder when expressing yourself. When you're true to yourself the joy is unparalleled, so stop wasting time travelling someone else's journey and take pride in your own.

Why Blindly Practicing Will Lead You to Walls

Have you ever had the feeling of being eager to scratch, but when you finished you felt like you achieved very little? As exciting as scratching can be, if you're not consistently getting results from your sessions, you're likely to stop enjoying it so much. Too many sessions of thoughtless scratch practice will start to eat away at your self esteem. You would think the fact that you're regularly scratching should be enough, but it simply isn't.

Small Goals Lead to Big Achievements

Big goals are very important to have and downright vital should you wish to achieve anything truly fulfilling in life. However, you can't expect to reach such goals if you do not have smaller benchmarks to achieve along the way. You don't just come up with a massive goal for yourself then wake up the next day and it's achieved. Quite obviously, you have to work hard at scratching regularly to bring your dreams into reality.

So why is it that we tend to neglect the smaller things that make the big things possible? Is it because these smaller goals are too tiny to capture your imagination? Perhaps, but more likely it's simply because you just flat out didn't think of them before. Often times what's right under our noses is what needs our attention most.

Pointing Out the Obvious

When you go to the beach are you planning on having fun? Doesn't it seem silly to think of going to the beach without fun being involved? Well of course it does, but not having fun is exactly what will happen if you have no idea what you're going to do there. You just show up, sit down in the middle of the sand with no plans and do nothing. Pretty boring and ridiculous sounding right? You're probably wondering who in their right minds would do this, yet that's exactly what you're doing every time you scratch and you've neglected to make any plans of what to do while you practice.

Small Goals Overload

Once you become aware of how important it is to set smaller goals for each individual practice session, you're probably going to have the opposite problem. You started off blindly practicing with little to no purpose, but now you're burying yourself in problems with your scratching that you expect to overcome within each session. While it is good to work on multiple things when practicing, it doesn't mean that you need to drown yourself in goals.

Narrow it Down to One

It is often times better to focus on just one specific thing you want to achieve for each session. Doing so will keep your mind free of clutter and you'll be much more aware of how much progress you actually made on that particular goal by the end of the session. Also keep in mind that if you're practicing scratching daily and you have one daily goal per day that you're working towards, they all add up over time to tons of smaller goals. So in actuality, you're really working on many things all the time.

Alleviating the Pressure

You need to also understand that you don't have to achieve any of these smaller goals in just one session. Sure it would be great and also quite possible at times. However, it is not the end of the world should you fall short of any given goal. That is why tomorrow exists. It is not about getting to the finish line faster. It's about the continuous drive towards it.

If you run faster than anyone else and are about to win the race, but collapse just short of the end due to exhaustion, what good was all that hard work? Persistence in scratching is your biggest ally and persistence consists of regular, thoughtful, well paced action.

Why Seeking Perfection Will NOT Lead to Perfection

Seeking perfection in scratching is a very common thing. Obviously, the idea of being perfect is an ideal that many would undoubtedly love to experience in the real world. Unfortunately, seeking such an ideal rarely, if ever pans out to anything significant.

There is a lot of unspoken danger about becoming perfect. One of the biggest issues that will crop up for you time and time again when you feel you must be perfect at something is you'll be frozen in fear of not being perfect and hence not take any notable action towards your goals. The main reason being, that for most the idea of being perfect tends to feel like an insurmountable goal that no matter how much effort you put forth, shall never be achieved. When you have engulfed yourself in this belief you've essentially knocked all the air out of your sails and will likely have little to no motivation to take the actions necessary to progress.

Perfection Vs. Progression

What I'm about to say may be hard to believe, but I truly feel beyond a shadow of a doubt that true perfection does NOT exist! I also want to point out that I don't believe that's a bad thing. The problem with the idea of perfection is it places an artificial limit on what one can achieve and that at some point there is an end to what can be done with your scratching, or anything else in life for that matter. Yet we all know that everything that exists can always be improved upon (at least on a subconscious level). Humanity's greatest strength is within our ability to endlessly progress at whatever we choose. Scratching is a great example of that when you see how it started from its humble beginnings to where it's at currently. The amount of progression is very significant. Yet it is such a young art still with much room to grow.

Imagine if the forefathers of scratching and everyone that followed in their footsteps believed that perfection was achieved after only a few years of development. Clearly, the art would not be nearly as advanced and primed for further progression as it is today. This is why it's so important to avoid the idea of perfection and to place your focus on continual progression. NEVER place a glass ceiling over your head!!

Progression in Your Own Goals

Now that you have gotten a taste of how detrimental perfection can be on a grand scale, it's time to shift your focus back on yourself. This is important because, whether it's obvious or not, your progress has the potential to progress the artform overall. More importantly, on a personal level, you'll be able to feel much more fulfilled if you're regularly progressing and of course actually achieving the goals you've set out for yourself.

Progression will come, but it must be pursued systematically! The first major key to progress regularly at scratching is to change your belief system! After all, how can you possibly achieve what you want if you don't truly believe you will achieve it? All your thoughts stem from your beliefs, but if your beliefs aren't aligned with your goals it's like trying to run on a conveyor belt that's going top speed in the opposite direction that you're running in.

Even if you manage to get your beliefs and goals aligned, you will still likely struggle to keep your thoughts positive while scratching. The main thing to keep in mind here is patience. Anytime you make a major change in your life it takes time. There is no such thing as overnight success. Many steps need to be taken in the right direction before progress can be measured with major achievements. It takes daily effort on your part and faith that you WILL learn to dominate your thoughts with positivity!

Action Leads to Progression!

While improving your beliefs and thoughts is extremely crucial you DO NOT need to worry about perfection. Otherwise you're completely missing the point of this entire article. Remember, action leads to real world results and real world progress. We are human. We are not beings of perfection. We are beings of progression and progression does not take place without the willingness to put yourself to the test regardless of how prepared you are to deal with the challenges you face. Furthermore, since you'll be working on improving your beliefs and thoughts in addition to taking action, your actions have no choice but to improve as well!

Seeking a quality scratch mentor will also be of great help to you in order to supercharge your scratching progress, because a great scratch mentor will have already succeeded in many of the areas you wish to succeed in. When seeking success it's important to learn from someone who has been through the struggles that you may be experiencing and has figured out the solutions to those problems. Time waits for no man so don't waste your valuable time reinventing the wheel. Take charge of your future and start achieving your scratch goals!

The Necessity of Ultra Pitch Turntables

At the time that I am writing this article, ultra pitch turntables are common place. It is not a stretch to say that you could easily order one right now and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer. Yet, many scratch dj’s have not taken that step and remain on what is essentially outdated gear. This is unfortunate considering all of the expressive scratching options that will open up as a result of acquiring ultra pitch turntables.

Imagine you owned a piano and you were very accustomed to the full pitch range that it has to offer from the first to the 88th key. With such a rich range of pitch your ability to express yourself tonally is very full. Now imagine you get up one day and walk over to your piano only to find that over 70 keys have been removed, leaving you with just one octave in the mid range to play. Most likely you’d be devastated by the drastic decrease of your expressive options.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the piano, you’d be hard pressed not to notice that any great piano music covers a wide range of octaves and would not be nearly as expressive if it were all suddenly reduced to one octave. Unfortunately, that is similar to how popular turntables like the Technics 1200 are designed. Now I’m not out to bash Technics, but if we’re going to be truly honest, we have to admit to ourselves that its pitch range is extremely limited.

Excuses vs. Moving Forward

If you’re hesitant to dump old gear and move on, you could have several reasons. Perhaps you’re sentimental as you might’ve had your current turntables for awhile. You might feel that your current turntable is built like a tank and has proven its reliability. You may even be a pretty advanced scratch dj despite the limitations of the pitch range on your turntable. However, you should recognize that these are all merely excuses and by not moving on you are avoiding a key that will unlock many doors.

The First and Most Obvious Benefit

Let’s say you have a sample you want to scratch over a beat with, but the tempo of the beat doesn’t match the sample. You want to let the sample play all the way out, but it won’t stay on beat. The obvious solution, regardless of what kind of turntable you own, is to adjust the pitch of the sample so it will match. However, in this case the pitch is so far off that using a turntable without ultra pitch will result in the sample still playing off beat. Clearly, if you were using an ultra pitch turntable this would not be an issue whatsoever and you could solve your problem almost instantly.

Further Options

Let’s look at another example. Say you have a really cool vocal sample to scratch with, but it sounds way too high and nasally. You can already tell that if you only dropped it down 10 percent or so that it would still sound piercingly high. Without an ultra pitch turntable you’d be likely to toss the sample and forgo what could have been a worthy addition to your arsenal of sounds. On an ultra pitch turntable you wouldn’t have to make such a sacrifice because you could continue to drop the pitch down incrementally until you find an ideal setting.

What About Serato?!

With technology like Serato you could actually record your scratch sounds into your DAW, adjust the pitch of each sample to whatever you like and then drop it into serato or use a plug-in for Serato called Pitch ‘N Time and the above problem would be solved. However, while these are workable solutions, they aren’t the most ideal for on the fly situations. Using Serato for pitch issues also negates the advantage of slower platter speeds which I’ll speak more about below.

Record Control on a Whole New Level

When you scratch on a turntable without ultra pitch you are forced to learn to control the record over a platter speed that may be too extreme for your current skill level. However, when you drop the pitch down considerably the platter spins much slower and the amount of resistance that you experienced with scratching before is lessened to a great degree. This makes it much easier to gain the necessary record control it takes to be really expressive when scratching. When you gain control at those speeds, going back up to standard or extreme speeds becomes much easier to tackle because now you only have to deal with the challenge of extra resistance from the platter.


Now that you have a clear picture of why it is so vital to use ultra pitch turntables, I’d like to give some recommendations of turntables that have an ultra pitch option. The main ones I think are most noteworthy are the Vestax PDX 3000 and the Numark TTX. The PDX 3000 being on the higher end and the TTX being somewhat lower. There are other options, but I think you’ll find that those are the most worthwhile. So in closing, take a leap and don’t look back. I wholeheartedly believe you’ll have zero regrets.

How to Shred Like a Scratch Beast

Scratching super fast is a skill that the vast majority of scratch dj's strive to acquire. Unfortunately, the typical approach you likely have taken for building extreme speed is severely ineffective. There are several things that must be considered if you want to build speed effectively. Missing any of it will prevent you from scratching at the most extreme speeds possible.

The Average Strategy is Tempo Boosting

While boosting the tempo has its benefits, it's not the sole way to build speed. Most people assume if they keep increasing the tempo and trying to scratch over it that they'll eventually be able to scratch faster. However, as already mentioned, a lot more must be considered and consciously worked on if you are to achieve any major results.

Think about it like driving at extreme speeds. If you are driving on a race track built for insane speed it doesn't guarantee that you will be able to drive extremely fast. You still need the right kind of vehicle and highly developed skills to fly through the race track at a lightning pace.

Efficiency of Movement is Crucial

If your record hand and fader hand are moving inefficiently then you will never scratch as fast as possible. Being efficient means achieving maximum results with minimum effort. Typical examples of inefficient movement are moving the record forward and back too far from the starting point, opening the fader too far from the cutoff and releasing your fingers too far away from the fader.

Clearly, the more movement you use in your scratching where it isn't needed, the longer it will take to do those things, thus the slower your cuts will be. What you want to do is identify where you're being inefficient, how inefficient you are in each area and how to become more efficient when you scratch.

Relaxation is at the Heart of Speed

One thing you may have noticed when scratching at faster tempos is it can be challenging to relax. What you must realize is that the more relaxed you are the more easily you can scratch efficiently. This is because when you tense up, you tend to overdo your motions even if you're consciously making an effort to move efficiently.

That's why it's very useful to scratch over more mellow tempos, such as 80 bpm and below, so you can focus on learning to scratch in a very relaxed manner while still attaining higher levels of speed. When you successfully do this it enables you to handle much higher tempos in a more relaxed mental and physical state.

While mellow bpm beats will help naturally put you in a state of relaxation, you still have to learn more aspects of the physical side. Learning to optimize your record hand pressure, fader hand tension and overall physical relaxation when scratching will greatly increase the fluidity of your movement which all leads to greater overall speed.

Good Timing Equals Further Relaxation

In addition, you need to time your fader movements well with what your record hand is doing. This will allow you the chance to rest between record movements, so that you are not building up unnecessary tension in your fader hand. The better you are at doing this, the more consistent your relaxation will be and the more you will scratch clean and fast, because you are learning to click the fader at the right moments.

Measuring Your Speed Leads to More Speed

It's essential that you also have some set parameters so that you're aware of how fast you're actually scratching. How many notes you execute per beat will determine how fast you are at the current tempo you're scratching over. 1 note per beat is quarter notes, 2 notes per beat is 8th notes, 3 notes per beat is 8th note triplets, 4 notes per beat is 16th notes, 6 notes per beat is 16th note triplets and so on. This is assuming you know basic counting over a 4/4 beat which is the typical time signature for most scratch beats.

It will be partially helpful to know how many notes there are for each scratch technique and combo you are working on, but you also have to keep in mind repetitions per beat. For example, if you are performing one technique per beat, then how many notes that technique is made up of will represent your speed. However, in order to increase your speed without increasing the tempo you have to add repetitions of that technique.

The more repetitions of a technique you can do per beat will represent your true speed of that technique at the chosen tempo. It is only when you have maximized your reps of a technique or combo per beat that boosting the tempo will be necessary to further gain speed. Remember though, it is all the areas of your scratching that I've discussed that will need to improve for you to actually gain speed. Boosting the tempo once you have maximized your speed at a lower tempo only puts you in a position to continue accurately measuring your speed.

Don't Underestimate Building Speed

While I have covered a lot about dramatically increasing your speed, there is much more detail that will need to be understood and applied to truly reach your full potential. Often times it isn't just the depth of each topic associated with speed building, but also your own personal weaknesses and strengths. These personal aspects of your scratching are best addressed by a high quality scratch instructor who knows from their own experience how to scratch at extremely fast speeds and has successfully taught others to do so as well. Bottom line, the fastest way to learn to scratch extremely fast is to seek help from a mentor who can and will help you reach your goals.

Why Persistence is More Important Than Talent

Persistence is an obvious component in achieving your goals, but do you realize it's actually the most important component there is? Many will tell you why you shouldn't bother expecting big results if you have no natural talent. While it is true that talent is important, it's false to believe that anyone is just given talent.

People with supposed natural ability work hard to get to the outstanding levels of skill they're known for. Often times what you see is the aftermath of all their extremely dedicated hard work and undying persistence. In fact most individuals that are viewed as natural talents would likely be offended if you told them that is why they are who they are. It's essentially a slap in the face to all the blood, sweat and tears they've poured into their craft.

Quitting is Always Just a Decision Away

It may sound oversimplified, but it's really true. Think back to all the times you've decided to quit something and then actually followed through on giving up. There may have been many reasons behind you deciding to do so, but in the end it all boiled down to that final decision and then it was over.

Even if it's something that you truly love, the option to quit is always there. Yet as we all know, quitting something, for better or worse, is often times easier said than done. So what brings you back to what you felt so certain you wanted to give up? Clearly it's persistence. Whether it's a strong love for something, a craving, peer pressure, fear of the unknown or any number of other things, it all equates to persistence.

Motivation Won't Always be on Tap

I'm not going to lie to you and say that you can just turn a faucet and out pours motivation to scratch whenever needed. If you're familiar with my articles than you know I've written a lot about how to stay motivated towards your scratch goals. The funny thing about learning and knowledge is that it can be something you're not always ready for or able to summon when you most need it.

This is where persistence comes in. It's most vital when frustration has taken hold of you to the point of an overwhelming desire to give up. For me personally it has easily been my biggest ally through all the growing pains I've experienced in my many, many years of scratching. I can't begin to tell you how many let downs, disappointments and periods of practically abandoning scratching I've been through. I don't share my darker moments to discourage you, but rather so you understand that a true love for what you do will always outshine any negativity you face.

Major Breakthroughs

You never know when your biggest breakthroughs will occur. In all honesty I'd say most of mine came over a decade after I began scratching. Will it take you that long? Hopefully not, which is why I've created and continue to create helpful scratch resources for you to learn from.

However, focusing on how long it takes you to achieve something is not nearly as important as how efficient and persistent you are. After all, once you've achieved something, you've achieved it so it's almost irrelevant how long it took. What matters more is what will you do with your achievements and how persistent will you be at your next round of goals.

Perhaps Quitting is What You Want?

Obviously, I can't make that decision for you. Not everything we take on in life is worth seeing all the way through. It takes some real introspective thinking to decide what's worth moving on from. There are even elements within scratching worth dropping. However, if you truly love scratching, I guarantee persistence will be there with you every step of the way.

Persistence Development

The best thing about persistence is you don't have to treat it like some unfathomable pie in the sky that comes to your aid from time to time. While my passion for music and art is what mostly kept things alive for so long, the truth is most of my strongest attributes in persistence were developed from direct and indirect training with minds much more persistent than my own in more recent years.

Great minds like Napoleon Hill, Michael Gerber and Seth Godin are just a few of the people that have had a major impact in my continuing forward with scratching for what I consider to be a lifetime journey that I'll never grow truly weary of. It is because of what these people have done for me that I strongly recommend you to seek out mentors of your own. Whether you learn from direct training or simply read a few books, it's an excellent next step in taking your persistence to the next level.

If You’re Not Staying Sharp, You’re Becoming Dull

How often do you practice scratching? If you’re being honest with yourself the answer is probably not as often as you’d like. The upsetting part of this, regardless of why you aren’t regularly practicing, is the deterioration of your skills as a result. You work hard to achieve the skill level you desire, so when you find yourself having to overcompensate because you’ve gotten rusty, it’s extremely disempowering.

Practicing Does NOT Have to be Overwhelming

When you practice, consciously or subconsciously, you’re making an effort to improve. The very word practice evokes feelings to take things up a notch. However, the challenges of improving your scratching can be overwhelming if you have a poorly planned scratch practice regimen. Even the best practice regimen can’t always account for the challenges that can come up in your life. So you say to yourself, "I don’t have enough time. I’ll just practice when my schedule becomes free again." Yet anyone who really understands time management will tell you it’s just an excuse.

The truth is even just 10 to 15 minutes can serve you well when approached with the right mindset for scratching. And what’s 10 to 15 minutes really? If you can’t find a way to create 10 to 15 simple minutes of practice time, it’s time to reexamine your life and make some drastic changes.

Thinking of the Consequences is Important

You have to ask yourself what will happen if you continue to slack on practicing. How many weeks, months or years will it cost you if you don’t take control of the situation now? Take a moment and truly think about this. How soon would you like to actually be at the ideal level you desire? For most this would be instantly, but as we all know, mind blowing scratch skills aren’t built overnight. So is it really in your interest to add to the inevitable amount of time it’s already going to take to reach your goals? The obvious answer is, of course not.

Many Focus on Improvement, but Few Concentrate on Maintenance

Do you realize that practicing is not just about getting better? Say you have a car that you want to upgrade. You can get higher grade parts all the time, but if you never change the oil your engine’s performance will be affected drastically for the worse. Now all you’ve got is a shiny, nice looking heap of worthless metal.

Don’t treat your scratching this way! When you gain skills you need to reinforce them. The good news is this does not require tons of time per day to do. It’s really just a simple matter of using what you already know. This can be done by simply scratching over a beat and improvising with the techniques and patterns you’ve gotten under your belt, or are at least working on already.

Use it or Lose it!

Scratching is just like learning a language. If you don’t use what you’re learning, you’ll be hard pressed to recall it in times where you want or absolutely need to use it. So take at least a little time each and EVERY day to do so. Turn your schedule upside down if you have to. Find the time, because if you don’t you know it will only lead to regret and regret is not worth cultivating.

Good Maintenance Actually Leads to Improvement

If you maintain what you know, it stays sharp, often times becoming sharper. Firstly because you’re regularly locking it into your muscle memory, but also because you give yourself a chance to regularly examine what areas of your scratching needs refinement, or even drastic improvement. Ever heard the expression, "Out of sight, out of mind"? So don’t allow your scratching to collect dust, become dull or get rusty. Take my advice and USE it!

Grappling With Nerves

Being nervous is a common concern among scratch dj’s, but what’s the biggest culprit behind nervousness? The biggest cause of nervousness, hands down, is the fear of making mistakes. If you’re familiar with the fear of mistakes, which you naturally should be, then you’ve likely dealt with it in a couple ways. You accepted it and moved forward anyway, or you let it prevent you from opportunities you would like to take on. More realistically though, you probably dealt with it in both ways or you wouldn’t be reading this. You moved forward enough to seek answers to the problems that ail you, but you’re still holding yourself back in some way.

There are many situations where becoming nervous about mistakes can affect you. Live performance, training with an instructor and even scratching on your own can all bring up feelings of panic. No one wants to look bad in front of others, not even themselves. The desire to scratch at your best is at the heart of any scratch dj that cares about their skills and how they’re perceived. Thus, the thought of screwing up, even just a little can be quite nerve wracking.

Redefining Mistakes

Let’s face it, mistakes are impossible to avoid so surely avoiding them is not the solution. What you need to understand is that mistakes exist for a reason. And that reason is to give you the chance to become who you truly want to be. If you run from or cower at the mere thought of mistakes, you have ZERO chance of ever getting to the skill level you desire, or experiencing all the great things that come with facing your fear head on. In short, mistakes are all potential learning experiences.

In fact, no amount of researching, teaching, training, coaching or mentoring will ever mean squat if you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes and make them often. I have seen it with many of my students before. They come in with this intense feeling like they need to impress me and then freeze up, struggling even more than they should. Ironically their fear of making mistakes is causing them to make more. It’s not until I introduce to them how important it is to freely make mistakes and the benefit of making them, that they become relaxed and start living up to their full potential.

Don’t Get Upset, Get Excited!

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not encouraging you to think that messing up regularly is something to aspire to. Of course you still want to get to the point where mistakes are minimal and you scratch at a pro level. However, in order to get to that point you have to embrace mistakes wholeheartedly and go out of your way to learn from each and every one of them. If you truly do this, not only will the fear of making mistakes begin to fall away, but your skills will begin improving at a more rapid pace.

So the next time you make a mistake, don’t get frustrated. Get thrilled and ask yourself what you can learn from it. The answer may not be obvious all the time, but it will come to you eventually. Believe me, because you’re going to keep making that mistake until you do. I know because I’ve made a TON of mistakes over the years, but one way or another I found and implemented solutions. Even if it meant seeking help from an outside source, like the training I did with my music mentor Tom Hess.

Cultivating Faith

Believing in your potential to achieve is important. Many people just like you have gone through the same scratch struggles and overcame them, but NONE of them would have done so had they not developed a "Can and WILL do!" mentality. Notice I said "WILL" and not just "Can". Simply believing you can, will yield very little results because it requires no action, but believing you will propels you into action because deep down inside you know that you won’t if you don’t physically tackle the problem at hand.

Don’t Let One Day Spoil a Lifetime

Undoubtedly, if you’re used to viewing mistakes as a negative it will take time to recondition yourself to feel otherwise. So don’t let a so called bad day on the turntables allow you to revert to your old way of thinking. Reread this article multiple times and keep reinforcing the idea that mistakes are your ally. Learn from them and they will reward you with more than you could ever wish for!

Pitch Variation – A Matter of Urgency

Scratching is a lot like your emotions. It can be very reserved and almost non expressive, or it can be full of intensity. Imagine if you had an emergency and you had to convey it immediately to the person next to you. It’s safe to assume that if you kind of mumbled the message in a lifeless way, they probably wouldn’t take you seriously. However, that is not the typical way we express ourselves during an emergency situation.

The opposite can also be true. If you were at the dinner table and you were asking the person next to you to pass the salt, you probably wouldn’t act too alarmed about it. However, many times in scratching we tend not to express the right emotions at the right times. Even worse we simply don’t express much at all. Working on pitch variation and the timing of such scratch variations is a great way to pull yourself out of the dark cell you may be currently imprisoning yourself in.

Don’t Throw Away The Key

Speaking of prison, if you were in a jail cell and you had the key you’d most likely open the cell and make a break for it. So why is it that we often place ourselves into boxes we think we can’t get out of? Often times it boils down to focusing too much on the problem and not the solution.

A great way to avoid self imposed limitation is to focus in on pitch variation. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced at scratching, you’ve probably painted yourself into a corner enough times. By taking what you already know and working on expanding the pitch range of it, you can greatly expand your expressive capabilities in scratching.

Become a Better Communicator

Various pitches communicate various things. Extremely high pitches communicate tension and intensity. On the other hand, extremely low pitches communicate release or a relaxed state of being. There are times to be intense and there are times not to. Our goal when relying on pitch to express what we want is to use it at the times it is necessary to convey such emotions.

The range of pitch in scratching is immense. For those familiar with turntables that have ultra pitch functions, you realize the pitch can go 50% faster or slower than the original speed of the record. With such a vast amount of octaves to play in, the options reach far and wide. The best part is you don’t even need an ultra pitch turntable to access this amazing pitch range. It can all be done manually when executing your techniques.

This is a great attribute for scratching to have because it represents all the different levels of intensity that scratching can have. Some examples of situations that call for certain levels of intensity would have to do with the melodic and rhythmic content of the beat you are scratching over. If the melody of the beat is laid back, you could compliment the beat with some lower, more even tempered pitches. If the beat is fast and the drums are pounding strong, high pitch scratching would be a great way to add to that intensity. Likewise, you may want to subtract from the mood at times when it becomes too intense by scratching in the lower pitch range.

Narrowing Your Focus

There are times when you may want to cut the variations down and simply stay within a tighter pitch range. Situations like this may include a beat where the overall mood is very static and you want to match that mood throughout the length of the track. Or perhaps the chorus is meant to only express one type of feeling and you want to match that emotion. These examples are by no means all inclusive. The challenge and the fun for you as the artist is to think and discover multitudes of ways to use pitch variation to your advantage.

Reach for the Sky!

As you can see, there’s a myriad of possibilities within the concept of pitch. It is important to realize that for every scratch you can do, there’s a chance to do it in a variety of alternate pitches. It will truly multiply your scratch vocabulary. Whether it’s a scratch you’ve been doing for years, or something you just picked up, the concept of pitch expansion can and should be applied.

A good way to get tons out of this concept is to place limitations on yourself. Imagine you’re a painter and you’ve decided to paint a mountainside. However, you only have three colors on your paint palette. You want to paint a brown mountain that has many different cracks, crannies, nooks and shadows. The three colors you’re restricted to using are brown, white and black. While that may seem like an extreme limitation, the reality is anyone with decent painting experience could tell you it’s more than enough.

Floodgates Unleashed

Now that you have a better idea of pitch and its function in the greater world of self expression, it’s an excellent time to start experimenting with it. Even if you just begin using it a little bit, you’ll notice quickly how much of an impact it will have on your ability to express yourself with scratching more effectively. You may even have extensive experience in building your pitch vocabulary. Despite that fact, it is likely you are neglecting at least some aspect of your scratching that could benefit from a wider range of pitch choices. Start being heard more. Demand people’s attention!

Your Record Hand Weighs a Ton – Getting Rid of Dead Weight

Having a heavy record hand is an all too common problem for scratch dj’s. Even worse, many believe it is only an issue that plagues beginners. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When we first start out as scratch dj’s we tend to over compensate for our lack of record control by using too much downward pressure on the record.

If we’re fortunate enough to even be aware that it’s a problem we will attempt to correct it, but often times this is just a slight alleviation of the problem and not the solution. This leads to spending months and even years unintentionally holding back our potential simply because of our lack of awareness when scratching and knowledge to properly address this heavy handed issue. Before you can fix this you need to understand why scratching with a heavy record hand is so detrimental.

Exaggeration Leads to Enlightenment

Imagine someone strapped a 50 pound weight to the top of your record hand and told you that you had to keep it on while scratching. Even if you’re strong, wearing such a weight on your hand would considerably hinder your ability to move comfortably. Since the weight is causing downward pressure and scratching consists primarily of forward/backward motions, it’s working against every movement you attempt, making everything unnecessarily difficult.

While I know it sounds like a ridiculous scenario, understand that you’re likely doing the same thing to yourself that the 50 pound weight would be doing. Granted, you’re obviously not applying that much downward pressure to the record, but you’re still likely applying too much.

So How Much Pressure is Ideal?

Let’s put this to the test with an actual exercise. In order to find out you will need to put a record on your turntable and press the start button so that the platter is moving. Now put your hand on the record as you normally would when you scratch, but do not move the record forward or backward at all. The next step is to begin slowly (at a snail’s pace) releasing any downward pressure you’re putting on the record until the point where the record starts to slip away from you. Now repeat this exercise, but now stop releasing pressure right before the point where the record started to slip away the last time. This is your ideal amount of pressure to be using at all times.

Warning Signs

Despite going through the above exercise, it’ll take time to consistently use optimal pressure. Your mind has many things to concentrate on, especially in the earlier stages of development, so you may lose sight of how heavy handed you truly are. So here is a list of things to watch for so that you’ll stay on track:

• The platter slows down or stops moving
• The needle skips
• Your hand starts to feel tired or sore

Avoiding Confusion

Keep in mind that there are differing amounts of tension that will need to be used for various scratches, but this has little to do with the matter at hand. However, it’s important to point out that tension and record hand pressure are not the same thing so be sure not to confuse them. A good example of this is a baby scratch vs. an uzi scratch. The first requires very little tension while the latter requires quite a lot of tension (mostly from the forearm), but both require the same amount of record hand pressure.

Further Precautions

Part of what birthed the whole heavy handed issue comes from equipment and accessory issues that have no relevance in today’s world of scratching, so don’t make it any harder on yourself than you have to. Be sure to have a good quality turntable that doesn’t skip easily, preferably with a straight arm. Use needles that have good traction to also avoid skipping. Additionally, use super thin slipmats designed for scratching. For a more specific idea of my recommendations visit: Turntablist Gear

Getting a Feel for Featherweight Scratching

Now is the time for you to grow comfortable in your new skin. Scratch daily with optimized pressure on the record and enjoy the new found freedom of motion it grants you. I promise you’ll experience lots of "Ah ha!" moments. As time goes on you’ll be very accustomed to scratching in this manner and you’ll be grateful you put what I have written here into practice.

How to Make Your Scratching Super Clean

Being able to scratch really cleanly is something that many people greatly desire. Part of what makes scratching sound professional is executing everything as clean as possible. If your scratching is overly sloppy it is not very appealing to listen to because it prevents you from clearly communicating the ideas you want to express.

Many think that simply practicing regularly will be enough to eventually get their scratching sounding super clean. The problem is that it's very unlikely that your scratch practice is focused on the correct things that will actually lead to clean scratching. This all amounts to a big waste of time with much less results than focusing your practicing on the areas that are essential to achieving your goal of scratching cleanly.

Use the Right Tool for the Job

Imagine you had a really dirty toilet. Now imagine the only tool you had to clean it with was a toothpick. Sure you could scrape off the gunk to some extent, but it would take you a really long time and the end result would likely still be a pretty filthy toilet. Now imagine you had a proper scrub brush and cleanser to clean that same toilet. Clearly the results would be much more to your liking and you wouldn't be stuck with a nasty toilet anymore.

The same applies with cleaning up your scratching. You need to pick the most effective method to get the job done. This method is what I refer to as 2 hand sync. This method involves training the timing of what your record hand is doing with what your fader hand needs to be doing at the same time.

Being Out of Sync is the Biggest Cause of Sloppiness

Now that you're aware of what the most important skill for cleaning up your scratching is, you need to further your understanding of how to harness its power. Just like not knowing what to focus on in practice is problematic, so is being unsure about what to focus on when working on the correct method. Even if you're practicing 2 hand sync you're likely to still have a lot of problems with fixing sloppy scratching. This is because when your hands are out of sync with each other you will not be clicking the fader in time with your record movements.

Better Understanding of Techniques is Important

One of the best ways to get an idea of when to time your fader hand with what your record hand is doing is to know how each scratch technique you are practicing works. Each technique should dictate specific timing. If you lack understanding of how techniques work you will never be able to execute those techniques cleanly.

Techniques like forwards, stabs, reverses and transforms dictate very specific timing. The definition of those techniques clearly states that the fader must begin and end with the fader closed. Timing for techniques like 1 click, 2 click and 3 click flare scratches depend on the fader beginning and ending open, as well as clicking in the middle of a forward or reverse record movement. While you still need a bit more understanding about those techniques and others to really work on your 2 hand sync, the basic definitions provide a good understanding of where to start.

Speed is Very Important

A huge misconception about clean scratching has to do with speed. It is not advised to try scratching at warp speed if you are generally sloppy at slower speeds. This is an obvious sounding point that many people actually are familiar with. However, despite their familiarity they typically run into another common problem that occurs when practicing scratching at slow speeds. They think that because they are scratching with slower more sustained notes that it's okay to open and close the fader slowly.

Unfortunately, this leads to big problems when working to increase your speed later on. While you may have longer periods of time between each click of the fader when scratching slower, it is crucial that every single time you open and close the fader you do it as instantly as possible. This puts you in a much better position for increasing speed because you will not have to train yourself to click faster later on. You'll simply need to decrease the amount of time that passes between each click of the fader.

Mastering the Basics and Taking Things to Another Level

You now have the general guidelines on how to get your scratching sounding ultra clean. What you'll want to do now is begin implementing the advice in this article for each of your scratch techniques, scratch combos and patterns that you want to clean up. You'll want to make sure that you do this in isolation, over a beat and within your freestyles as each context presents its own challenges. Realize, that just because you can do a technique cleanly in complete isolation does not mean that you will be as clean with that technique over a beat or in a freestyle integrated with all your other scratching.

You must also recognize that there are many more facets to improving your 2 hand sync that are often times very personal to your own development. This is mainly because your strengths, weaknesses, challenges and goals are unique to you. This is why if you truly want to excel at 2 hand sync and get your scratching to sound extremely clean and masterful, you need high quality scratch instruction. Come to my online scratch lessons page and discover how you can successfully conquer all your scratching challenges.

From Wandering Mind to Pinpoint Focus

Lack of focus is a very common problem that we all have faced before. It isn’t like we are intentionally sabotaging ourselves, but that doesn’t change the fact that losing focus can slow scratch progress down to a crawl if it isn’t dealt with properly. If you look at anyone who is truly great at scratching you can place a sure bet that they didn’t become excellent by accident. An extreme ability to deeply concentrate was developed to aid them on their journey.

Think about a pro baseball player with a high average of homeruns. If a great level of concentration didn’t exist within their mind it’s obvious they wouldn’t be so accomplished. Even hitting just one homerun in any circumstance against a masterful pitcher requires an amazing amount of focus. The odds are already stacked against you even if you have perfect focus, so you could imagine how greatly your ability would suffer without the concentration needed to take on the challenge.

It All Starts In Practice

If you are unable to focus effectively in a practice situation you shouldn’t really expect to possess intense focus anywhere else. So the question is how much concentration do you lack and when do you lack it? The best way to begin determining this is to watch for what kind of thoughts you are having while practicing a specific technique or scratch combo. If your thoughts are wandering to other scratches that have nothing to do with what you’re working on that’s a problem. If you’re having thoughts that have absolutely nothing to do with scratching that’s an even bigger problem. The more often your thoughts deviate the more you’ll have to actively work on improving your ability to remain focused on what you want at the specific time you choose to do so.

1st Level Distractions

When you start thinking of other scratches instead of the item you’ve chosen to work on you’re likely also doing those scratches. A lot of times this leads to doing stuff you’re already good at. While doing what is comfortable can be fun, it completely defeats the purpose of improving your scratching by working on something specific that you’re struggling with. Remember, the more time you spend working on your problem areas the quicker you’ll progress. So be sure to note when you are not practicing what you set out to do and get back on track immediately. Any good or bad habit is developed out of regularity so by always making sure to refocus your concentration back to what matters, the more naturally you’ll do so as time goes on.

2nd Level Distractions

Thoughts that have absolutely nothing to do with scratching are the most detrimental of all. The obvious reason being that if you are not even thinking about scratching, you’re likely letting all sorts of mistakes go by completely unnoticed, thus never even allowing yourself the chance to correct them. There are many reasons for this, but the most common one is boredom.

If you feel like drilling a scratch technique or pattern is a monotonous process for you, it’s important to remind yourself of why you’re practicing that particular item in the first place. When you focus too much on the process it’s all too easy to lose patience and become bored because the process is the hardest part. It’s the result that we all treasure and enjoy having under our belt and so that is what your mind should be concerned with most.

Emotional Intent

All that being said, let’s not confuse emotional intent with completely unrelated thinking. Meaning, if you want to express something that you’re practicing with a specific emotional feeling, you may want or need to think of something outside the realm of scratching. Some examples might include a rainy day or a fight scene in a movie. These types of thoughts when used correctly by tying them closely to the technique or combo in question can be very effective for self expression when scratching and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Meditative States

A masterful level of concentration is not unlike that of intensely focused meditation. The more you actively seek to obliterate wasteful thinking and replace it with fully on target thought, the quicker and more easily you will reach the goals that you’re most concerned with achieving. So stay alert, stay patient and keep your eye on the prize!

3 Keys to Effective Scratch Sentence Phrasing

Scratch sentence phrasing is kind of elusive. Many want to do it well, but few seek out strategies for making it more effective. Even worse, lots avoid scratch sentence phrasing altogether because they perceive it as too difficult. This is unfortunate considering it can be one of the most powerful tools for capturing people's attention with scratching. Particularly people who aren't scratch dj's because it's easier for them to comprehend.

A Clear Definition

Before we go any further let's establish what scratch sentence phrasing actually is. A scratch sentence is a series of words put together on a record to form a sentence such as "say what" or "cut like a guillotine". Phrasing is actually not specific to scratching and is really just a way of soloing with more emotion. Good phrasing is similar to a good conversation as it will have a variety of pauses, punctuation, rhythm and mood. For good examples check out artists like John Coltrane and Marty Friedman.

Scratch sentence phrasing is simply combining those two elements. In other words manipulating scratch sentences in a creative way. It is very common in scratching to move back and forth between two to three words in a sentence, playing them off each other. D-Styles is a master of this and you can hear him do it most often with "say what".

Key Number One!

Now that we've covered our bases, let's get into what you need to do to be more effective. You must have excellent timing. Phrasing never sounds good if it's not timed well. A common way to establish good timing is to treat your scratch sentence phrasing like scratch drumming. In fact, a lot of the coolest phrases are really just drum patterns in disguise.

The easiest way to improve your timing is to take a two word sentence and time it to the beat you're scratching over. Often times the first word of the phrase will land on the kick drums of the beat and the second word of the phrase will land on the snares. In terms of a 4/4 rhythm, that would be the first word on the 1 and the second word on the 2. Scratch techniques commonly used for this style consist of forwards and stabs.

Key Number Two!

You must sound extremely clean. Scratch sentences usually consist of sounds that are short in length and arranged close together. If you're the slightest bit off, you'll sound sloppy because you'll end up going too far forward or too far back into other words of the sentence or even land in a silent spot. Even if you scratch precise with the record you will likely run into synchronization issues with the fader.

To gain precision, always watch where you're at in the record so you don't lose track. A common way to do this is to mark the label of the record you're using with a sticker that lines up the beginning of the first word of the sentence with the needle. You can also add an additional sticker below the first to mark when the second word of the sentence begins.

In terms of improving your fader and record hand synchronization, this can be done in isolation with stabs using one word of the sentence. Granted stabs are just one element of scratch sentence phrasing, but they're a primary element so it will do you well to pay close attention to them. Clean stabs pulled off consecutively give a strong feeling of precision that tapping a sampler is known for.

Key Number Three!

You must have a variety of scratch patterns. If all your scratch sentence phrasing consists of are drum like patterns they'll become boring. This is where phrasing in the style of traditional musicians comes into play.

Typically when we scratch we use sounds like "Ahhh" and "Freshhh". As mentioned, phrasing is meant to flow like a good conversation. There are no limitations to what techniques can be used.

A great way to break in and out of drum pattern style phrasing into traditional phrasing is to treat each word in your sentence as you would an "Ahhh". Just take one word and do a variety of scratches with it. When you decide to revert back to drum style patterns is up to you, but if you mix these two ways of phrasing up enough you'll greatly reduce the chance of sounding dull. Phrasing is an inexhaustible topic and to go into more depth is outside the scope of this article. However, you can learn a ton about how to create high quality phrasing here: The Definitive Guide to the Tear Scratch.

Get Fresh

A great way to bridge the gap between drum pattern style phrasing and traditional phrasing is to use the sound "Freshhh". Sense you're likely already used to using a variety of techniques and patterns with "Freshhh", the next step is to break it into two parts, between "Fre" and "shhh". You can apply drum style patterns to each part as well as traditional phrasing. This will get you in the habit of phrasing as you would with a scratch sentence and also establish some really good, transferable patterns. Most importantly, it'll help keep you from making excuses to not work on phrasing as not working on it is worse than even the smallest bit of effort.

Why Weak Record Control Equals Weak Scratching

Having outstanding record control is the holy grail of scratching. Yet it is far too often overlooked, even by people you may consider advanced. The biggest reason for this is people's obsession with fader techniques.

Flashiness Can be Distracting

You may have noticed, especially if you're new to scratching, that most modern day scratch dj's use the fader quite heavily. In fact it's not odd to see thousands of fader clicks go down within just a few minutes. If you don't know any better, it's easy to get the impression that scratching is all about ripping the fader. Thus lots of newer scratch dj's and even some seasoned ones fill their repertoire with many fader clicks with little regard to what they're doing with the record. This often leads to uncoordinated, sloppy sounding scratching.

Even scratch dj's that are fortunate to gain coordination between their fader and record hand and clean up some sloppiness, never really gain much more than that. A lot of the emotion that could exist in their scratching won't because they aren't giving their record hand the chance to develop at an equal or higher level than their fader work. The most ironic thing about this is that having great record control will allow you to further develop your fader work, as what you do with the record dictates your timing of fader use.

Record Control Equals Emotion

You must realize that scratching is music. Music's purpose is to stir up emotion in the listener. That being the case, you should have some control over what emotions you trigger in your audience. One way to do this that resonates most with people is the pitches you use. Pitch control in scratching is a HUGE part of record control!

Lower pitches tend to represent mellow, melancholy feelings. Higher pitches tend to represent extreme intensity and excitement. There are many shades of those pitches, as well as all other pitches between them. Not to mention countless combinations of pitches that can make up a scratch phrase and what it represents. What it all boils down to is without high development of record control, you will severely lack the ability to be an expressive musician and thus never really connect strongly with your audience. Clearly this is important should you ever want to be a successful scratch dj, so don't continue to make the mistake of overlooking your record control.

Attack Your Record Control from Different Angles

There are two methods for record control development that will get you HUGE results. The first involves zero use of the fader. That's right, ZERO! Now if you're extremely accustomed to always using the fader, you're going to have to force yourself to let go of your dependence of it.

When first doing this, it's like taking a look under the hood of your car. From the outside it may look like a really nice vehicle, but if you've been neglecting what's going on inside, it's not going to be pretty. Don't worry about this! It's actually great to realize how flawed your record control is. Once you're truly aware of where you're at, you have a much more substantial chance of overcoming your weaknesses.

Keep in mind, you must approach faderless scratch practice with focus. You need to have specific things to focus on or you will NOT get the results you're striving for. There are three scratch techniques in particular that will be of great benefit to focus on. The baby scratch, drag scratch and tear scratch. These three techniques are the heart of all record control. In fact, most scratching is simply variations of baby and tear scratches.

The next method can and should be used as part of the previously mentioned strategy, but will also be of great benefit to apply while using the fader. This involves keeping your hand on the record at all times. This means you never release the record. You only push the record forward and pull the record back for all movement.

Generally, people approach their scratching by mostly releasing the record whenever they want it to move forward. This is unfortunate because by doing so you give up all control over the countless options of pitches you can use if you were to hold on to the record. When done in conjunction with the fader you can really breathe some life into all your fader based scratches!

Be Sure to Get Your Priorities Straight

You should never be 100 percent focused on any one area of your scratching. Obviously, record control is just one aspect of scratching. However, it is the MOST important and should be treated as such. The exception being, you already have stellar record control, but your scratching with the fader needs more development. Most likely that will not be the case though, as most people tend to have more of a deficit in their record control.

Gain the Most Record Control Efficiently

Since record control is such a deep issue, one of the best ways to develop it well, as quickly as possible is through professional guidance. Although you now know the general areas of record control that need attention, you'll likely have different weaknesses in different areas that are personal to you. These things won't always be obvious and even if they are, you won't always know how to overcome your issues. Don't allow yourself to get lost in a sea of problems! Take charge of your progression in the most effective and efficient manner possible with my online scratch dj lessons!