So now that it’s been about four weeks since I got my DJ diploma and finished the course and the big question potential students are asking: Was it worth it? This, and every other possible question that comes to my mind will be answered in this honest review.
Let’s start with one of the most important sections. I payed about 1200 Euro for the course, and included in that price was a two-way airplane ticket from Sweden to Greece, pick up at the airport, 3 weeks accommodation in hotel, all the course material, USB, headphones and lessons. So you basically only need to bring clothes and money for your food and drinks. And your laptop. I don’t know if the course is open to students from other countries than the Scandinavian ones, but it should be (in my business-opinion).
This is not a bad price at all. To be honest, its possibly even cheaper than what you would pay for a 2-3 week all inclusive holiday! That’s how I looked at it – a holiday to learn something new and fun. What’s more is that our teachers often paid our food and drinks anyway even though it wasn’t included in the course price! We often went to clubs with them and they got us in for free with access to VIP areas. Several times they invited us out for parties and the bottles on ice brought to our table was paid for by the DJ Academy. That’s not bad at all!
We stayed at a hotel close to the Rhodes bar street called New York hotel. It’s not the 7 star Burj Al arab but it’s acceptable. Surprisingly comfortable beds, and it has air condition and WiFi. The only bad part about the hotel is that it’s VERY noisy. The doors are paper thin, and whenever there is any noise in the hallway it’s like it’s echoing into your room. Worth to mention is that the hotel is a staff accommodation for a few of the bars in the bar street. So expect a lot of slamming doors, loud voices, parties and commotion. I brought earplugs and I used them every night.
So what did we actually do? And what did we learn? The class I was in had three students and 2 main teachers. We mixed theory and practice every day and our teachers took turns to instruct us. One day we could be meeting at a café to work on preparing music in our laptops with one teacher, and the next day we could meet with the other teacher in one of the clubs to practice mixing. We received a brochure with music history and other useful guidelines to adhere to as a DJ.
I feel that we were very well taken care of. The teachers we had were not only helpful and truly caring about teaching us, but they were experienced DJ’s themselves and had jaw-dropping skills. We were given a USB with a lot of music on it, and that’s what we practiced with. Will you be allowed to bring your own music and play your own music? Yes and no. As long as it fits the situation that’s OK. It can even be an advantage if you know the structure of your songs well. But I advise student to focus mostly on the music provided in order to learn the fastest. You will be learning on 2 stations. The first one is the clubs main system, a mixer with a CDJ-2000 and a CDJ-2000NEXUS. It’s a bit worn down but fully functional.
The second station is a brand new XDJ-RX system. I liked very much that we learned to play on different types of systems.
Is this course for potential DJ’s of all kinds of styles and music?
I’d say yes. With the theory and practice you learn during your 3 weeks you will have the basic tools, skills and knowledge to by any kind of DJ you want.
The course is set up so that you have small tests every week, and the final test will be a DJ battle at a pool party in front of 600 people. Don’t worry! They won’t throw you to the sharks straight away. You will gradually ease into playing in front of people. Our first test after week 1 was to play 10 songs each at a pre-party gathering. All the guests were outside the club in the street and the DJ booth was inside so they couldn’t even see you.
The downsides about the course is that in the last week we received conflicting information on what to prepare for and how long our test would be. It felt like courses in the future could have a better planned final week. We were also instructed to play in the clubs alongside the main DJ during our final week, but all of us were expecting more play time.
Lastly, the club where we had most of the daily practice is quite shabby. The tables are sticky and there is a lot of people running around there and it’s quite hard to focus some times. Also, the two systems are being used in the same club simultaneously. In the beginning it was very hard to focus on using your ears because you had another student practicing on the other system in the same room. Sensory overload. The best solution for faster learning in future classes would be to have two separate sound-proofed rooms. But somehow we still learned!
Overall value and final conclusion
Would I recommend the course? Yes and yes and YES!! This is without hesitation one of the best experiences of my life. Not only the experience was great, but also the honor of being taught this skill by my teachers who I now consider my good friends for life! Will you be a DJ after this course? That’s entirely up to you. You will be equipped with the all the basic skills and knowledge you need to start and continue your DJ career. The opportunities are there if you want them, and I suggest that you keep practicing and learning after the course.
Your teachers will also help you with this. They told us that if we wanted, we could visit them and warm up for them when they gig. In all honesty, I personally value the course at double or even TRIPLE the amount I actually paid – considering all the additional stuff, the connections, the friendships, memories, photos, videos.. If you have any interest in music at all, even if you don’t have any plans of becoming a DJ. You might even be a producer who want’s to gain better knowledge of how his product is used: Just do it – you won’t regret it, that’s a promise.
Tips for potential students
Things you should know about and tips for learning faster: Bring earplugs. The music in the clubs here is LOUD. Way louder than back home. Often you will be at clubs 4-5 hours every night watching the main DJ’s techniques and learning. And during the day you will be preparing music on your laptop with your headphones, or practicing some mixing technique. It’s a constant 3-week assault on your ears, and you need to take care of your hearing. After all, your ears are your most important tool.
I also advise potential students to buy a DJ controller before the course. Practice with it at home and bring it to the course! It will kick-start your learning if you know some basic skills already. And it will make you much more comfortable for the tests if you can practice your routines in the hotel room after class. What controller would I recommend? That’s a whole other topic for itself, but strictly from a beginner’s perspective, I’d have to say a Pioneer DDJ-RB. 90% of the standard equipment in the clubs are made by Pioneer and that’s what you will be learning on. That doesn’t mean the other brands are bad – but it will be much easier to stick to one brand as a beginner.
Pioneer has a few models of different price range, and I personally have the DDJ-RR. My advice is that a complete beginner start with the most basic model DDJ-RB (which happens to be VERY cheap), or the next more advanced RR. If you don’t care about money, go for the 3000 $ flagship model DDJ-RZX. Drooool!