Why Confusing Jamming with Practice is Detrimental
Practicing is the most important thing you will ever do as a dj. How you practice determines everything you will ever accomplish with scratching. If you practice regularly and effectively, you can basically guarantee you’ll achieve the results you desire. Not to mention, you’ll achieve them much faster than someone who isn’t practicing effectively. Unfortunately, many don’t understand the importance of practice, much less what effective scratch practice involves.
For most dj’s, putting on a beat and jamming over it is their idea of practice. While this isn’t a complete waste, it’s certainly not effective use of practice time and quite frankly is not actual practice. Real practice requires you to determine what things need to be worked on. You also need to decide how much time must be invested on each thing, 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 a conversation where you misinterpreted what the other person was trying to communicate. In most cases, that misinterpretation probably led to a problematic outcome. Had you understood what they were trying to communicate, you would've had a better chance of preventing whatever problems occurred.
When you confuse jamming with practicing you're essentially doing the same thing. This can be much worse than misunderstanding a simple conversation. If you never learn what effective practice is, you’ll waste years of your life never achieving many of your dj 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. Practicing effectively should make up the bulk of your scratching. However, you need to jam over a beat so you can flex the scratch muscles you're developing in practice. Ultimately, scratching is about expressing yourself and stirring up emotion in your listeners. Thus, it's important to set aside time for jamming, so you can leave your concerns from practice behind for a bit.
Common Jamming Pitfalls
If you're using an effective scratch practice strategy to progress, it will be tough to shut out the inner critic when you're jamming. It’s okay to critique yourself when jamming, just don’t be overly critical. Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes when scratching. You can take quick mental notes as you encounter problems. However, you shouldn’t break into practice exercises to fix those issues in the middle of jamming. Otherwise, you'll break the flow of your expression. You can always attack those problems later during your actual practice time.
A better way to have a worry free jam is to record yourself scratching 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. It’s more difficult while jamming to figure out what’s being done correctly. With recording you have the opportunity to hear yourself from an outside perspective. You also have the chance to keep reviewing concerns that stand out to you.
With True Clarity Comes Great Responsibility
Now that you know the difference between jamming and practicing, you owe it to yourself to start creating a more effective practice strategy. Understandably, this isn't always easy to do. You may not really know 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: Effective Scratch Practice Strategies
While the topics I've covered are helpful, you'll likely have deeper issues specific to you. If you feel this is the case, be sure to go to this page and contact me directly with your concerns: Scratch Lessons for DJ’s
Article written by Kwote