This is the article number 8 in a series on How to get better at scratching by using the Learning Zone vs Performance Zone. Here are the previous articles so you can get up to speed if you haven’t already read them:
- How to Get Better at Scratching – Learning Zone vs Performance Zone
- Scratching: Learning Zone Ideas
- Scratch Learning Zone: Deliberate Practice
- Scratch Learning Zone: Performance Zone Value
- How to Spend More Time in the Scratch Learning Zone
- Why Do We Spend So Much Time in the Scratch Performance Zone?
- How to Create Spaces for Scratch Learning and Growth
I recommend checking out the above articles in the series before you read any further, so you have the full context, and to get the very most from the knowledge below.
We previously talked about how we can create spaces for our scratch learning and growth. I am using the framework outlined in the previous articles which is based on the TED talk “How to get better at the things you care about” by Eduardo Briceño.
Now that we know how we can create spaces for our scratch learning and growth, let’s take a look at what we can do if we find that our scratch practice has become too high stakes.
What if we find ourselves in a chronic high-stakes setting and we feel we can’t start those conversations yet?
Then here are three things that we can still do as individuals.
- First, we can create low-stakes islands in an otherwise high-stakes sea. These are spaces where mistakes have little consequence.
- For example, we might find a mentor or a trusted colleague with whom we can exchange ideas or have vulnerable conversations or even role-play.
- Or we can ask for feedback-oriented meetings as projects progress.
- Or we can set aside time to read or watch videos or take online courses. Those are just some examples.
- Second, we can execute and perform as we’re expected, but then reflect on what we could do better next time, like Beyoncé does, and we can observe and emulate experts. The observation, reflection and adjustment is a learning zone.
- And finally, we can lead and lower the stakes for others by sharing what we want to get better at, by asking questions about what we don’t know, by soliciting feedback and by sharing our mistakes and what we’ve learned from them, so that others can feel safe to do the same.
How do we apply this to scratching?
Environments that might be too high stakes include recording performances to post on social media or any time you are scratching where the focus is on performing at your best and minimising mistakes, e.g. during live gigs or jams. Here are three things that you can do to apply this to your scratching:
1. Create a low-stakes island.
Create a space where mistakes have little consequences. This can be by yourself or with someone you trust.
Consider finding a mentor or a trusted DJ with whom you can exchange ideas or have vulnerable conversations about how you are doing with your scratching.
Ask for feedback on your cuts. Seek feedback from someone who supports you and wants the best for you. Seek this from someone you know and trust and who knows what they are doing, rather than via general social media feedback from strangers.
Set aside time to study the art of scratching. Read articles that give you ideas to help you improve, watch videos or take online courses. Learn all you can about the art of scratching including the history.
2. Record yourself performing a scratch technique or freestyle to the best of your ability, then reflect.
Watch or listen back to your recording and reflect on what you could do better.
Questions you can ask yourself to reflect on how you are doing and what you can do better:
- Are my cuts clean and well-executed?
- Are my cuts on on time?
- Am I using a certain technique the majority of the time?
- Are my cuts repetitive?
- Am I using a full range of expression, varying the speed of my record hand movements?
- Are my patterns varied?
- Are my phrases similar or do they vary?
- Am I using space?
- Am I using syncopation?
- What is this like to listen to overall?
- What do I want to adjust and change?
- How can I improve?
Observe and emulate other DJs who are experts at the art of scratching.
This type of observation, reflection and adjustment is a learning zone.
3. Lead and Lower the Stakes for others
You can lead and lower the stakes for those in our scratch community by engaging in the following:
Share what you want to get better at.
This can be any of the following examples:
- A specific scratch technique
- A specific scratch technique at a certain speed or timing.
- Linking specific scratches together
Ask questions about what you don’t know. This way you can be directed in a new direction by those who have come before you and already have experience.
After you have taken some time to reflect on how you are doing, for example by reviewing a video you have recorded, open up the conversation with others that you trust to see what they are seeing that you are not and get their input.
Share your mistakes and what we’ve learned from them, so that others can feel safe to do the same.
When you share a video that shows you making mistakes and what you learned to overcome that, it gives others people permission to do the same.
It’s easy to think by watching a 30-second Instagram clip of someone scratching that they scratch that way all the time and it’s just not true. You are seeing a performance or likely a clip of a much longer recording which has many mistakes. What you are not seeing is the times they missed the timing or notes and had to start over to create a clean version.
When you share our process with others that we trust and who have earned the right to see behind the scenes, it can encourage them onward.
A Fourth Option
School of Scratch – The Ultimate Low Stakes Space and Community for Scratch DJs
If you find your scratch practice has become too high stakes and you want to implement all the things listed above, School of Scratch exists to help you do you just that.
Example 1 – A Low Stakes Island:
School of Scratch is a low stakes space and online community where mistakes have little consequence.
It is a safe space where you can connect with other students to exchange ideas and have real and open conversations about how you are doing with your scratching.
You can seek feedback from your fellow students and peers, who are all people who want the best for you as everyone is in the same boat.
We help you study the art of scratching by providing video tutorials in a complete online course and curriculum intentionally designed and created to help you practice and improve.
Example 2 – Recording Yourself
School of Scratch is a place which encourages you to record and post videos of yourself performing a scratch technique or freestyle to the best of your ability.
We run monthly scratch practice challenges in our community which are designed to help you practice regularly and record your progress. It is a space where you can watch your videos back and reflect on how you are doing, and what you could do better, together with other students who are doing the same thing and everyone improves together.
Our School contains expert tuition which makes it easy for you to observe and emulate the scratch techniques and skills. I make it easy for you to get started straight away and copy me initially so that you learn the basics and create a great foundation on which you can build on. Your style will evolve and follow.
Example 3 – Lead and lower the stakes:
School of Scratch is a space where each student is empowered to lead and lower the stakes for others from the moment they join.
Share in our community what you want to get better at.
- Students can share what they are working on and wish to improve. They can join in our monthly scratch practice challenges to give them a focus on working on improving a specific skill, with the added benefit of being with other people who are practicing the same thing.
Get feedback from your peers.
- Our School of Scratch community is set up so that anyone can post a video and ask for feedback, knowing that it will be constructive and supported. In the same way, students give peer feedback and share input in a positive way that makes a real difference. Often, beginner students share great advice on what they struggled with and what made the difference. Every student can be a mentor to others an because of the range of abilities, we have feedback on a variety of levels. Our environment is incredibly supportive and tight bonds are formed between our students as a result.
Share your mistakes and what we’ve learned from them, so that others can feel safe to do the same.
- By posting regular weekly progress videos, in our monthly challenges, without the need for perfection, students get to witness the process of learning and mistakes and see that it is ok, to be expected and to keep on showing up to practice. There is a freedom that comes with having the ability to share, including any mistakes and being with a group of people that expect to see that and learn from you and with you.
If you would like to get involved in our space, you can check out the School in more detail and join here:
That wraps up this article on what we can do if we find that our scratch practice has become too high-stakes.
Now you can start to take the ideas shown here and implement them to help you make continued progress.
My students who follow the guidelines in this series of articles are most definitely the ones who end up making the most progress.
Do you want more help with being in the scratch learning zone and your scratch practice?
If you would like to learn how to scratch or want more help with using and getting the most from the Scratch Learning and Performance Zones, School of Scratch is there to give you everything you need to train (masterclass tutorials, training guides, a complete curriculum, scratch drills and a supportive community) so you can spend more time in the learning zone, make progress and become great at being in the performance zone, performing at your very best.
You can sign up here: School of Scratch.
You can try out our tuition for free to see how it can help you learn, by signing up below.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments.
Happy Scratching! ?