DJ mixing is essentially creating a continuous musical track by combining songs or sounds, mixed together using loops, scratching, or other techniques. The Teen Advisory Group tends to be drawn more to geeking out, crafting, and competition. But as this has a much cooler vibe than most, this program brought in some guys that had never shown up at our events before.
For this event, we bought one basic DJ mixer (the MixVibes Ion Discover DJ with MixVibes Cross) which works with your desktop computer’s iTunes. Basically it can pull all your iTunes songs straight into the MixVibes Cross software where you can then mix up the songs, scratch, loop, and create playlists. Some accomplished DJs you might know include DJ Jazzy Jeff, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, DJ AM, Fatboy Slim, Deadmau5, Grandmaster Flash, Spinderella, DJ Skribble, Samantha Ronson, and Jam Master Jay, and while the DJ mixer software is simple to use, it has enough bells and whistles for a beginner to play with.
In preparation, I added the most current CDs in our collection plus any hip hop into iTunes. I opened up MixVibes Cross and my whole collection was added to their software. I created a few playlists (boy bands, girl power, old school) so the teens could easily go through the music if they didn’t want to scan the entire collection. I spent about three hours training myself on how to DJ (don’t laugh). The mixer had an online instruction manual.
When the teens arrived, I gave a basic introduction of how to work the mixer and then let them take over. Every time a new teen stepped up, I would walk him/her through the basics. One of the teens had some experience, so he was able to provide a little advice. In fact, this teen volunteered to DJ at our future teen events. He has promised some scary mixes for our Zombie Fest in October.
I learned a lot from this program.
1) I did not need to spend so much time creating playlists or adding to the collection as Macklemore ruled the program.
2) DJ mixing can be be intimidating. Two girls split from the program when they realized all these boys would be watching them. Next time, I need to find a way to incorporate the other teens who are not participating so the nervousness and uncertainty will not build up while the teens wait. Putting together a printed list of the songs available to mix would be key so the teens have something to prepare while they wait.
3) Music is grounds for bullying. I feared for the younger teen who declared that One Direction made great music. I was thrilled that the older guys just shook their heads and smiled instead of flinging insults. My teenage friends would never have been so nice. My friends today could behave even worse.
4) This program would work well over a week where every day the DJ mixer would be available from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.. As I said, I spent three hours learning how to use the mixer, and while the teens had me to guide them through the basics, each teen had minimal time to actually play around and experiment. Mentoring opportunities could help teens improve their skills as part of DJ mixing camp/series of classes a la Scratch DJ Academy, Camp Spin-Off, and Slam Academy.
This program was successful in bringing new teens into the library who are now coming back daily to game. They also know me by name and stop by to talk. These teens definitely see the library as supportive of them and their interests.