DJ School 101: p r a c t i c e > practice > PRACTICE

Written by DJ Shiftee

PRACTICE TIP #1 – Plan Your Practice
As a DJ, a turntablist, and a champion sandwich artist, I’m a big believer in the power of practice. However, not all practices of practice are practically equal. Someone can practice 10 hours straight and not make much progress. What’s important is not only how much you practice, but how you practice. Quality can trump quantity, as the saying goes, and quality pastrami trumps all.

I changed my practice habits a few years ago after having a conversation with my friend Mike. Mike was taking drum lessons from a drum master named Bob Gullotti of The Fringe, easily the best drummer I’ve ever seen in person. Gullotti advised Mike to practice in the following way (as I remember it):

  1. Figure out each thing you want to practice.
  2. Look at how much time you have each day to practice.
  3. Practice each item for a set, finite amount of time. (e.g. If you want to practice 5 things, and you have 1hr 15 minutes each day to practice, practice each thing 15 minutes).

This method of practice helps in many ways. First, you are focusing entirely on one thing at a time, which usually allows for more efficient and effective development. You don’t get distracted with skills you don’t really care about. Secondly, you don’t get bogged down with any one skill. If your attempts at a particular technique aren’t going well, you still are only doing it for 15, maybe 30, minutes. On the flip side, if you are really making progress with something, the time limit will make you excited to come back the next day and practice it again.

I do this every time I practice now. I plan out everything I want to practice. I plan for how long I want to practice each skill. Then I literally set a timer, and follow my plan (http://online-stopwatch.com ftw, full-screen mode ftdoublew). Easy as pie, the easiest food in the world.

When I first started with this method, I noticed fast improvements within a week’s time. After a few months, I was already starting to nail scratches that were previously way beyond my reach. In general, my skills took off.

As an example, here’s one of my weekly practice schedules I used for my 2009 DMC World Finals preparation. And yes, I do have the handwriting of a 7-year-old.

But don’t just take my word for it. The power of this kind of practice routine is supported by actual research and actual scientists who wear actual glasses and actual overcoats. However, this sort of crazy talk is better suited for another post, so stay tuned for the next practice tip!

2
  • p r a c t i c e -> p r a c t i c e -> practice -> PRACTICE | Shiftee's Palace
  • 8/12/2010

[...] I wrote an article on practice habits for the Dubspot Blog.  Practice your reading by reading it HERE. [...]

  • Cool Mike
  • 8/12/2010

This is very helpful and inspirational to say the least. Many thanks to you!