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Wed 15 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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Mix masters

Preceding the launch of its new DJ training course, the Dubai-based Event Management and Development Institute (EMDI) has invested in a raft of cutting-edge DJ technology, recruited some of the region's leading DJs as tutors and tied up with leading nightclub promoter, Level Productions. Patrick Elligett chk-chk-checks in with the EMDI crew.

Mix masters
Students will have access to the latest Pioneer and Technics equipment.
Mix masters
DJ Chico is heading up the DJ training course.
Mix masters
EMDI director Nowshir Engineer.
Mix masters
The EMDI training suite located in Dubai’s Knowledge Village.

Preceding the launch of its new DJ training course, the Dubai-based Event Management and Development Institute (EMDI) has invested in a raft of cutting-edge DJ technology, recruited some of the region's leading DJs as tutors and tied up with leading nightclub promoter, Level Productions. Patrick Elligett chk-chk-checks in with the EMDI crew.While formulating the curriculum for the training organisation's new DJ training course, technical staff at EMDI and Level Productions wanted to ensure that the latest equipment was available at the institute, to serve the needs of participating students.

Nightclubs and other popular live venues which allow DJs to ply their trade seem to have reached a consensus on DJ equipment. The term ‘industry standard' is copiously thrown around in these circles, and is not unwarranted.

In a bid to ensure consistency in the in-house kit supplied at nightclubs, a uniform setup of the latest equipment can usually be found at popular nightclub venues in the GCC. As a vocationally focused institute, this was the setup EMDI wanted for the course.

"Students taking part in the basic course will have access to Pioneer CDJ-100S and CDJ-1000 decks," says DJ Chico, who has been tasked with heading-up the DJ faculty at EMDI.

"Those enrolled in the advanced course will gain access to Technics 1210 MK5 turntables, in conjunction with the latest Traktor Scratch software," he adds.

"These are the core DJing components you will find in most nightclubs anywhere in the world."

While manufacturers such as Pioneer and Technics are seldom excluded from any professional DJ performance setup, the choice of scratch software is very much a matter of personal preference.

This is partly due to the fact that the ‘leading brand' status has proved somewhat elusive for manufacturers in this category, and prices can vary greatly from package to package.

When selecting the appropriate software to educate aspiring DJs, Chico opted for the package that he felt was less prescriptive for students. He says the choice was partially influenced by his own "old-skool" style.

"In comparison to some other popular brands of digital scratch software, such as Serato, I think Traktor Scratch has two main positives," explains DJ Chico.

"Firstly, it is not as simplified as many other programs, which I think is a big plus as an old-school DJ. This also makes it perfect for teaching DJ students as well," he says.

"Secondly, the software is extremely stable. In a nightclub environment, this is a huge bonus. The last thing you want is for the program to crash during a set."

Although DJ Chico himself learned his trade while hauling around heavy cases of vinyl, he understands that in the modern age, digital technologies are unavoidable. He says that this is not necessarily a bad thing, but he still prefers a very hands-on approach to DJing.

"‘Going digital' doesn't simplify the process as much as a lot of people think," he suggests.

"All it really does is process the track and put it on to time-coded vinyl or CD.

"The method we're teaching still require students to operate all the equipment manually, so it's very hands on."It simply reduces the number of records or CDs they have to carry around, so the selling point is really the convenience factor.

"That said, I wouldn't really be very happy if one of my students began mixing everything on a laptop."

The main DJing curriculum has been divided into two components, each of which takes two months to complete.

EMDI will present graduates of the basic course (Certificate in Disk Jockeying) and advanced course (Diploma in Disk Jockeying and Music Promotion) with certification accredited by the City and Guilds of London Institute.

Students also have the option to combine both courses into one four-month long training programme.

Classes are held at the EMDI training campus in Dubai's Knowledge Village on a weekly basis, however students will have access to the aforementioned DJing equipment for practice sessions on days when classes aren't being conducted at the facility.

"The assessment regime will mostly focus on practical application of the skills learned during classtime. Students enrolled in the advanced DJing course are the only ones who will be required to sit a theory examination towards the conclusion of the course," says Nowshir Engineer, director of EMDI.

Engineer says the organisation also has a vested interest in ensuring graduates are provided with a career path. This is where Level Productions comes into the equation.

"Because we are a career-focused training institute, we also want to ensure we can get our students the best placements," he says.

"EMDI will provide the background infrastructure and certification, but we have tied up with a promoter called Level Productions, which employs DJs for conferences and nightclub events in the UAE," he explains.

Both courses will be headed up by DJ Chico, however Level Productions has recruited a number of other professional DJs to train students.

The company has also offered the added incentive of guaranteed employment for the top graduates of both courses, and possible part-time live performance opportunities for students who demonstrate promise throughout the training programme.

Following the announcement of a planned regional expansion, Level Productions' Bharat Harpalani says there will be plenty of opportunities for students to break into the DJ market.

He added that the company may use the EMDI training programme as an orchard from which it may pluck talent on a broader scale for placement in its expanding regional operations.

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