Did you know that video recording your scratching can help you improve more quickly than if you don’t record at all?
If you feel stuck with your current progress, or simply want to take your scratching up a notch, this post is for you.
Video recording your scratching is a deliberate practice approach that requires slightly more effort and a time investment than a standard practice session, but is one that that will definitely pay off.
Next time you freestyle or have a practice session, consider videoing your session. Set up your camera and hit record. Watch it back to get an idea of how you are doing.
This one simple act of recording ties in with step 3 of deliberate practice – Evaluate your progress.
Watching back your video will allow you to identify:
- How you sound overall – are you flowing or rigid?
- Identify where you are being repetitive with certain scratches.
- If your timing is off or on beat.
- If you are trying too hard or tensing up your record / crossfader hand.
- If the positioning and movement of your fader hand looks efficient.
- Which of your scratches sound good.
- Scratches you seem to struggle with.
Once you have received this audio-visual feedback and have gained an understating of how you are doing, you can adjust your techniques and practice approach to solve the problem areas you identified and speed up your progress. If you are unsure of what’s happening or are too new to really pick out what might be going well / not so well, you can seek the advice of others and get help making the correct adjustments.
Reviewing your videos and making these adjustments in this way means that you are not just blindly carrying on scratching how you have always done. Instead you are making progress.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein
Let’s be smart, sane scratch DJs!
Sports Training Analogy
Compare this to how professional athletes train. Sure there is the physical aspect of doing the actual sport, but they also spend large amounts of time analysing their technique and tactics. Some examples of sports areas that are analysed include:
- Golf swing
- Tennis strokes
- Footballer match passes
- Sprinting – starting technique
How to Get Started Recording
Just do it!
The important thing is to commit to giving it a go. Forget video recording quality and go for it!
It doesn’t have to be pretty , you are not on show, you are just trying to get an honest assessment of how you are doing without any bias of how you think you sound in your own mind.
Use whatever camera you have:
- iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad
- Camera phone
- Digital point and shoot camera
You don’t need to order new gear! Thinking you do is a delay and resistance tactic of your mind.
Make It Easy to Hit Record
Keep your setup simple so you can hit record at a moments notice. Keep the camera handy and setup on a tripod if possible. The easier it is to record, the more you will record.
If you have to get set up each time, you will be less likely to record.
How Often Should I Record?
Anything from once a month at minimum to once a week at the most will help. I recommend once a week to start with. You can always increase once you get into a flow with recording and watching back.
I took this to the extreme with my 30 days of scratching series, but daily recording is a big commitment. If you have time – go for it!
Bear in mind that 1o mins of recorded scratching = 10 mins of analysis or more. It’s a different way of practicing for sure but you will soon get used to it.
To share or not to share?
Remember – you don’t have to share your videos with anyone. In fact, I recommend you keep them private, at least at first, whilst you build up the habit and potentially get over any shock of how you actually sound compared to how you thought you sounded.
As a bonus, consider sharing your videos with other people you trust to get feedback. The School of Scratch community is great for that – students post their videos and myself and others post honest feedback from an unbiased, non judgemental point of view. There is no competition, just a desire to improve and help each other out.
If you do decide to post your videos on YouTube, don’t worry if you get negative or stupid comments (I get a whole bunch). Just delete them. Feedback that is worth listening to will offer valuable critique in a non judgemental, encouraging voice that doesn’t make you feel bad.
High Quality Recording
If you want to get fancy, you can record your audio separately from the decks so it is high quality and then match it up with your video in any video editing program e.g iMovie or Windows Movie maker. More on this in a later post.
How to Overcome Common Stumbling Blocks
It’s so much hassle to setup and record!
It doesn’t have to be! Keep it it simple! Simplify your recording workflow – use 1 camera and a small tripod or rest it on some books. Use anything that gets the job done!
I don’t have time to practice and watch it back.
Sure you do! Skip that netflix / video game binge and invest a little time. It will be worth it I promise!
Although freestyle cutting might be more fun in the short term, halving your freestyle time and watching it back will yield greater results in the long run.
OMG! I hate how I sound, it sounded waaaaaay better in my head!
Bear with it, you will improve. It is better to get an honest idea up front so you can tweak your techniques early on.
My cuts seem to get worse when I hit record!
This is the phenomenon known as “performance anxiety” or what i like to call “Red Button Syndrome”.
We get nervous, usually because we are attached to the outcome and want our cuts to sound “good”.
The good news is that this is perfectly normal and pretty much everyone I know experiences it to some degree or another.
Try and forget good / bad and just keep going.
With practice you will get used to recording and have less attachment to what it sounds like and instead view it as a way of practicing.
Hit record ignore that pesky red light. Put it out of view if possible. Take all the time you need to get going and trick your mind into forgetting anything other than scratching is happening.
Can I just record audio?
You can if you have no access to a video camera, but seeing your technique on screen give you infinitely more clues as to whats happening. Although you may be able to hear when a scratch doesn’t sound quite right in an audio recording, video lets you see so much more. If you can – get videoing!
There you have it – no more excuses!
That concludes this article on videoing your scratching to improve your performance.
Why not try it out and share your experience?
In an upcoming article on Thursday, I will cover how to record better quality videos for those that are ready to share videos publicly and would like to take their production up a notch.
It will feature an in-depth video tutorial from School of Scratch community member Suckertash, on how to video record your scratching. Suckertash has a great deal of industry level video experience and a deep technical knowledge that we can take advantage of.
What to do next
Leave a comment below on your experiences of videoing your scratching.
If you would like learn more about scratching and become part of a community of DJs committed to improving their techniques and style, check out the School of Scratch.
Happy Scratching (and recording on video)! 😀
– Emma Short-E