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!

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.

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!

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

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!

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.

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!