When learning to DJ, you should try to practice on someone else's DJ equipment to start off. Before you go out and buy all that expensive DJ equipment yourself, you want to make sure you know it's something you really want to do. The learning curve with DJing is much steeper on cheap, bad DJ equipment. So use a friend's equipment first, and if you like it, then invest in some quality DJ equipment. You'll learn to DJ faster with good equipment.
How to Mix
DJ mixing is the act of smoothly transitioning from one track into another. This is the first step to learn how to DJ. While the DJ has one song playing out to the crowd, he has to "mix" a second song into the first without stopping. This serves two purposes.
Match the Volume
The first part of learning how to mix is matching up the volume of the two songs. You don't want to mix the second song into the first if it's too loud or not loud enough. It won't sound good. So a DJ can use the LED level indicator lights on his DJ mixer, as well as his headphones to check the sound level of the new song he plans to mix.
The lights are a visual representation of the sound coming from each music source (turntables, CD players, etc.) The lights should peak at around the same spot for each side if the sound levels are matched up correctly.
DJ headphones can also be used to check the sound levels. A good DJ tip is to use a DJ mixer with a split cue setting. This way, the DJ can learn to listen to one song in one ear, and the other song in the other ear.
The second part of learning how to mix is to match the Beats Per Minute of the songs. Also called the "BPM", this is how many beats the song has in one minute. It measures the speed of the song. If the BPM of both songs are not matched, the mix will turn into what is called a trainwreck. DJ Tip: It sounds pretty bad, and people will run for the door!
As with matching the volume, beat matching can be done with both the LED level lights on the mixer (watch the beat), and the DJ headphones (listen to the beat). The DJ must cue up the next record he plans to play, by playing it in his headphones only. So the current song can be heard by the crowd, but not the next song he plans to play. The DJ must then attempt to match the BPM of the new song with the one that is already playing to the crowd. This is done by listening to the song that is playing out loud with one ear out in the open, and using his headphones on the other ear to preview his cued up song.
The DJ then uses the pitch adjustments on his turntables or CD players to speed up or slow down the new track until it matches the one that is already playing. Once it is matched up, he can slowly fade in the new song while simultaneously fading out the old song. If done properly, the mix should sound great.
These are just basic tips & tricks to learn to DJ. If you'd like to learn more advanced skills and DJ tricks, including how to market and promote yourself as a club DJ, check out Learn to DJ DJ Tips