Scratch - L.A.'s Own Premier DJ Academy

Known as one of the founding fathers of hip-hop and of the ground-breaking group Run DMC, the late and great Jam Master Jay has inspired hundreds and paved the way for millions over the years, but it wasn't until he took his passion for hip-hop and the turntables that he changed the way people could express themselves.

Four years ago Jam Master Jay founded the first DJ academy, Scratch, in New York City. For many years this was the only school available-that was until Scratch expanded its second location to Los Angeles.

With the increasing demand for a DJ academy in Los Angeles, a man by the name of Hapa joined forces with various people to bring us Scratch.

A DJ for eight years, and a club DJ for seven years, Hapa is the academy director of Scratch; part-owner of REHAB Records (an acronym for Real Experiences in Hip-Hop and Beat); and part-owner of DJcity.com, an online record store established in 1999.

On Jan. 8, 2004, the grand opening of Scratch L.A. opened its doors to eager minds on the art form known as DJ-ing. The first semester began on Jan. 15 and for six weeks students learned and honed their skills. March 19 was the beginning of the second semester.

Jeremy Magalong, a student at SMC, has been tutoring DJ 101 at Scratch since its grand opening. Magalong's passion for DJ-ing goes back to middle school. "I remember listening to the radio and DJ Melo-D was asked to scratch and I was completely ignorant to what Scratching was. Most would call it noise, but to me it was music to the ear. From that point on I began saving money for my first turntables and mixer," said Magalong.

Magalong tutors on Wednesday nights, but sometimes is spotted there other nights helping students with any difficulties they may come across. "The school gives each student the time to learn the techniques and practices the applications of DJ-ing," said Magalong.

Although DJ-ing is Magalong's passion, to be a DJ is not a major goal of his. "I would love to produce and make my own music, but I'm not at that level yet. My focus is to learn more and fine tune my skills," said Magalong.

Scratch has an estimated 100 students and offers three classes; DJ 101 - Basic Fundamentals; DJ 150 - Intermediate; DJ 202 - Intermediate Scratching. "We are in the process of adding the course Beat Making and Advanced Scratching, which will be available in summer 2005," said Hapa.

Sponsored by Stanton, the school offers 18 turntables and a record library for the students. "The goal of Scratch is to teach as many people as possible - to expose people to this art-form. We want to elevate the DJ musician and the turntable as an instrument," said Hapa.

For those who want private lessons there are several packages to choose from. All courses are taught by professional and celebrity DJs such as Mr. Choc, a professional DJ and a permanent fixture on Power 106 radio, DJ Revolution, DJ Numark and DJ Joe Cooley.

Mr. Choc, who has been DJ-ing for 20 years, voiced his feelings. "Teaching at Scratch gives me the chance to give back to the community that taught me about DJ-ing," he said.

For those who are DJ-challenged, here's some history on how the DJ evolved: In the early '70s Grand Wizard Theodore, arguably the inventor of scratching, was in his bedroom playing music on his turntables when his mother came in yelling for him to turn off the music. Quickly placing his hand on the record to stop it, he began moving his hand back and forth and the unfamiliar sound created was scratching.

But it wasn't until "Rock it," a record by Herbie Hancock, that included DJ Grand Master DXT, that scratching as a style was brought to the forefront of music. Scratching is the use of vinyl on a turntable and the use of a mixer.

Classes range from $200 to $300 dollars with private lessons starting at $90.

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