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Scratch DJ Academy Launches at SAE Chicago

By//Jessica Paris

Chicago’s SAE Institute has a new addition to the music family! After years of being exclusive to New York, LA and Miami, SAE has finally brought The Scratch DJ Academy to the Windy City and launched it’s latest location at their downtown campus. The brainchild of Run DMC’s Jam Master Jay, the program teaches students the art of DJ’ing through hands-on courses led by professional DJ’s. JETMag.com sat down with National Brand Director for Scratch DJ Academy, DJ Hapa, to talk a little more about what the program has to offer aspiring Chicago DJ’s when it opens for classes this Spring.

DJ Hapa is a working, traveling DJ and the National Brand Director for the Scratch DJ Academy. photo by Jessica Paris.

DJ Hapa is a working, traveling DJ and the National Brand Director for the Scratch DJ Academy. Photo by Jessica Paris.

Tell us a little about what Scratch DJ Academy is. 

The Scratch DJ Academy is the world’s leader in DJ education. We’ve got schools in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and now here in Chicago. The goal of the academy is to provide education and access to the DJ art form.

Why bring the Scratch DJ Academy to Chicago?

Chicago obviously has this great influence in music and it’s such a DJ city. House music originated in Chicago and so many hip hop artists have come from Chicago. So many DJ’s, in general, that call Chicago home. It’s just a natural fit for us to be here.

What type of students does the Scratch DJ Academy usually attract?

The student base is so varied. We teach as young as six and as old as people in their seventies. Its really really diverse. Really the only requisite to learning how to DJ is that you love music and that you’re open to learning and that you can be patient with the process, because its not the easiest thing in the world to learn. It requires a bit of patience and persistence.

 

DJ Fabian shows an aspiring female DJ the ropes on the turntable.

Scratch Instructor DJ Fabian shows an aspiring female DJ the ropes on the turntable. Photo by Jessica Paris.

How long does it take to complete the program?

We offer a DJ Certification program and it is a six-course program. Each course takes about six weeks to complete. On average, it takes most students about a year to two years to complete.

How much is tuition at Scratch DJ Academy?

Our program is incredibly affordable. We priced it that way on purpose based on our mission to be able to provide education and access to as many people as possible. To take one course at Scratch is $400 for the intro class. Our entire program, the full certification program is just under $2000.

Can students get financial aid to pay for their tuition?

Because its priced so affordable students don’t qualify for financial aid. But we do offer certain things. We’re flexible with our students. We offer payment options. We do from time to time offer up scholarships in some of our cities. So that’s a possibility as well. What’s crazy is that a lot of our graduates after graduating, earn back what they spent on their education within the year…because they can be picking up DJ gigs and they’ve been put in a position where they can make a living off of this.

 

Scratch Instructor, DJ Toadstyle, gives the Open House attendees a quick lesson in mixing and scratching. Photo by Jessica Paris.

Scratch Instructor, DJ Toadstyle, gives the Open House attendees a quick lesson in mixing and scratching. Photo by Jessica Paris.

Many people think DJ’ing is as simple as just playing music on a laptop at a party. What do students learn at Scratch DJ Academy that separates them from that stigma?

When you see someone that does something really well, they make it look really easy…so you’re like “Oh! I could do that!” We give the people the opportunity to come in and see if this is something they could do and they quickly realize it is more than just simply hitting play and sitting back and having a drink. There’s a lot more to it.

There are software programs now that match beats for you…what we teach in the academy is how to do that manually. A lot of what we teach here is also based on programming and understanding what song would sound best after another song. The advantage that the students have is that they have an environment in which they are able to learn off of one another, learn off our instructor and really get that instant feedback.

Another thing is we really pride ourselves on preparing our students for gigs. And in that environment, anything can and will go wrong. So to be able to troubleshoot the equipment, to be able to read a crowd…we offer all of that up to our students. Scratch DJ Academy graduates know all of that and can do all of that which is much different than the person that just tries to teach themselves. In the first six-week class you’ll learn what took me about a year and a half to learn on my own.

 

Open House attendees were free to play around with the DJ equipment and get questions answered by professional DJ's. Photo by Jessica Paris.

Open House attendees were free to play around with the DJ equipment and get questions answered by professional DJ’s. Photo by Jessica Paris.

How is Scratch DJ Academy keeping up with the ever-changing trends in music? 

The curriculum is always evolving because Dj’ing is constantly evolving. We meet every week and discuss what is working, what isn’t working and refining that. The program as it is now is different than it was even six months ago. You don’t get that in a lot of other institutions.

For more information visit scratch.com/sae or call 312.379.8562

Hurry, classes start April 2nd!