DJ session in Malvern scratches surface of kids’ potential

Thanks, Dragons, but no thanks.

That’s the message Scratch Labs DJ Institute sent to the moguls of the CBC’s Dragon’s Den when the school turned down the show’s offer to train and then make money off its students.

Instead, Scratch Labs offers free sessions, including one at Malvern Public Library on March 16, because it says it puts education and opportunity ahead of financial gain.

“Our vision for our school was completely different,” said Scratch Lab graduate Craig Brooklyn, who hosted the hour-long library session.

Brooklyn’s program taught local youth how to scratch and mix, as well as some timing exercises.

Using four turntables and a few small mixing boards, students took turns getting first-hand experience in music manipulation.

“Blending techniques. Execution techniques. Scratching, which is a big deal. Beat juggling,” Brooklyn said, listing what he typically teaches. “There’s a lot of coordination, you’re always doing multiple things at multiple times. I always say DJs are the multitask kings.”

The majority of participants at the Malvern library session were children from Skills Training for Youth Through Learning and Education (STYLE), an organization that provides services to youth living with learning disabilities in high-priority neighbourhoods.

“The DJ program is actually pretty unique. The libraries do a lot of cool stuff like this,” said Adeel Mulla, STYLE program coordinator. “And [the kids] are totally focused, they are really enjoying it.”

Engaging the students through some masterful scratching, Brooklyn kept everyone’s attention, teaching the beginners basic scratching. He also took questions, telling the attendees to work hard at whatever they do.

“Having programs like this in high-priority neighbourhoods — low-cost programs — [are a] good idea,” Mulla said. “We’re getting them to do other stuff, learn new stuff during the [March] break.”

This was the first time Scratch Labs held a session at the library. If they return to do it again, they can expect a bigger crowd.

“If [Scratch Labs] came back, I’d probably bring more kids,” Mulla said.