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Student Spotlight: Studying Skratching online with DJ Qbert

gemini belt drive turntableZSonic has been an ArtistWorks student for over 2 years now... We asked him about his experience studying skratching online with DJ Qbert, and here's what he had to say: 

One of my early exposures to skratch music was The X-Ecutioners debut album, X-Pressions. The year was 1999 and I was 16. I purchased it on vinyl a few months after getting my first set of Gemini starter turntables. It opened my mind to a world of musical skratch composition, I was inspired! I practiced skratching every day for about 5 years. But without instruction or quality focus, my skratch practice fizzled out and I got more into mixing and making beats

Then around 2013 I wanted to incorporate more skratching into my production. But my cuts were rusty, and my rhythms were loose. Hungering for improvement, I researched online skratch lessons. That was when I discovered Qbert Skratch University at ArtistWorks. Thankfully, my mom bought me a 12 month subscription for Christmas. It's been over two years now, and I still ain’t quittin’. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

video exchange on skraching tears

Once I started going through some of Qbert's Video Exchanges on the site, I quickly learned the importance of two fundamental techniques for skratching: Stabs and Tears. I had been skratching for 14 years but had never focused on Stabs or Tears! As it turns out, Tears are really hard... and my Stabs were sloppy. But I practiced them every day and got a little better.

Around 6 months after first joining ArtistWorks, I switched up my style and tried to skratch with my right hand on the record (what I like to call, "northpaw"). This was in contrast to the "southpaw" style I'd been practicing before with my left hand, but I found that Tears came more naturally for me this way. I was also able to be more patient with myself working on Stabs because it was like starting over again.

Then after 6 months of practicing with both hands, I got a pretty deep cut in my left thumb and could only practice Tears with my right hand on the record for a couple weeks... But I wasn't going let a cut stop me from cutting up music! So I kept at it, and over time, my Tears improved significantly. I finally understand their importance and application more than ever!

Now I only train northpaw, and after 20 months of focused training with some quality guidance from Qbert at ArtistWorks, I am way better than I ever was with my southpaw style.

To prove it, check out this video I put together to show how much better I've gotten over the last couple years: 

Having a solid path to follow has helped a lot. Qbert's curriculum at ArtistWorks is organized into 8 lesson categories: Skratching, Skratch Theory, Digital Applications, Training Dojo (which is full of useful tools), Beat Juggling, Setup & Gear, Helpful Hints, and Guest Professors. The Guest Professors section includes “Real Instrument Skratching with Alex Sonnenfeld” which is packed full of enough intensive material to be a school all by itself - trust me, it goes deep.

skratch tutorial from alex sonnenfeld

All of the main skratch techniques and combos are organized into 5 Levels in the Skratching Lessons category. If you’re a total beginner or would like to reinforce the basics, then you should start at Level 1. If you’re intermediate, start at Level 2 or 3. For crazy advanced otherworldy skratches go to Level 4. Level 5 is the most advanced concepts with a lot of lessons on the different methods of Drum skratching.

No matter your current skill level, it’s safe to say there’s probably at least a few techniques in each Level that you haven’t mastered yet. Besides the thousands of Video Exchanges, there’s currently over a hundred official lessons, and Q keeps adding more all the time. So there's a ton of material to go through... I'm still working on mastering all the Level 1 & 2 skratches!

You can learn a lot from the main lessons, but the real gold at ArtistWorks is Q's advice for his students in the Video Exchanges. Students are constantly uploading videos with their skratch questions and Q always responds with positive, constructive, and inspiring feedback. You can learn so much from these exchanges: practical info, proper turntable height, rhythm theories... also important concepts like "turn-arounds" and syncopation that you can apply to many different techniques. These tips really help you get better more efficiently because you have a clear idea of what to work on.

My first Video Exchange with Qbert was asking him how I should place my hand on the record when doing a Tear skratch. Q told me there’s no specific hand position, you should just make sure to listen to the Tears. Great advice! You can’t skratch with your eyes.

video exchange response from dj qbert

Imagine the impact on your skills if you could ask Qbert any question you want about skratching... That’s what you get at ArtistWorks, unlimited access to a wellspring of skratch knowledge and philosophy. There is now over seven years of Video Exchanges between Qbert and the students he’s been guiding online since 2009. 

Think about all the thousands of serious skratch questions that have been sent in to Qbert already - and he's answered them all! That's what you get in the Video Exchange Library, there's an overwhelming amount of gems to discover.  

Qbert Skratch University is so much more than just an archive of how-to videos. It's an evolving community enriched by an international student network, all focused on musical progress. ArtistWorks equips you with the map and compass so you can navigate your own personal skratch expedition - it's a lifetime journey of exploration!

Anyone can call themselves an expert and post a video to YouTube... a great teacher provides a learning environment where you can thrive. Qbert, along with the multitudes of skratch students from around the world, synergize at ArtistWorks to create a perfect environment to further develop your musical turntable abilities. The material is expansive, the content is updated regularly, and the members interact in a positive way to assist, encourage, and motivate each other.

Skratching can be a dark and frustrating journey without proper guidance. ArtistWorks provides the light and path to help orient you on your way to skratch mastery!

skratch theory lesson on connecting skratches

Study skratching online with DJ Qbert at

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