December 6, 2010 by Mobile Beat Staff Writer


Picking up new performance ideas at a conference can be a great thing if done correctly. The problem is that most DJs take those ideas home and insert them into their shows without ever considering what it takes to really make them work for them. In fact, they often “practice” a new bit or piece of interaction on the fly—meaning at a live show.

Over the last month I have been calling various DJs around the country and asking, “Do you practice?” And most DJs immediately tell me they do. But when questioned deeper I have found that they might not understand what practice looks like for a DJ. In fact, most DJs almost never practice. I would argue that too many DJs out there think that just their “natural” talent is enough.

Most DJs who practice at all engage in what I would call “reactive practice” rather than “proactive practice.” Here is an example of reactive practice: You have a show coming up that requires you to do extended intros for the grand march. You write out each intro in a manner that flows and is worded in a way to bring out emotion and reaction. The day before your event you read your copy out loud a few times just to be sure you have it all down. This type of practice is designed to affect just one part of your show, and only one time. This is more “show prep” than real practice.

Proactive practice is very different than reactive practice. DJs who want to take that next step toward becoming the top entertainers in their market should set up daily, weekly and monthly schedules of proactive practice. Proactive practice can also be specifically targeted, or range targeted.

An example of specifically targeted proactive practice would be music mixing. Within that practice area you can break it down into learning music, music sets and actual beat mixing. This kind of practice effort will obviously affect a large portion of your show, so it is well worth planning and carrying out.

Range-targeted proactive practice is a little more abstract. In this area of practice, we work on things that can affect several different areas of our shows. Probably the easiest example of this to see is vocal practice. We use our voices for so many different things, and yet my bet is that very few DJs ever learn how to use theirs properly. A lot of DJs no doubt get into DJing because someone tells them they have a great voice. And there it sits.

Just in the vocal practice area you have so many different aspects to work on; things like range, breathing, how not to strain, how to use your voice in different scenarios, etc. Announcements require a different approach than introductions. Of all the DJs I spoke with, very few practice this.

Becoming a top DJ requires the investment of practice. In attending my seminar this year, you will discover crucial performance areas for practice that you probably never thought of before. I will show you how to make the most out of your practice time and set up a schedule that works. This seminar will challenge everyone from new DJs up to the most experienced DJs. Do yourself and your performances a favor and spend an hour on proactive practices that will exercise your DJ muscles!

Dean Carlson has been DJing for 23 years and is the owner of Night Magic Productions out of St Paul, Minnesota. Check out his wedding blog at

Mobile Beat Staff Writer (371 Posts)

This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.

Filed Under: 2010, Mobile DJ Performance Tips