The Dark Side of Learning New Scratches
There are so many things to learn in scratching. Even if you're not new to djing 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, most dj’s 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’s 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. However, what’s most important is your biggest problem with what you're working on. Sometimes this can be clear as day and other times it will not be so obvious. There are two things you can focus on that will make this task easier. First, decide what you want the thing you're working on to sound like. Second, figure out what's preventing you from achieving that result. As mentioned, this won’t always be easy, but by investing time to figure it out, you greatly increase your odds of getting the issue resolved.
Once resolved, you’ll determine the next biggest issue and repeat the process outlined above. Once that’s achieved, you’ll continue tackling the next biggest issue until you have arrived at mastering that part of your scratching.
Don't Lose Yourself!
I must warn you, I’m not saying to use this strategy 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’ll 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 wants. 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’re either unable to discover what’s wrong, or you’re unsure how to get past what’s 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.
Article written by Kwote