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San Diego Turntable Institution Featured in the San Diego Reader

  • DJ Pnutz (with student)

Best Places to Train as a DJ in San Diego

By Eve Kelly, Sept. 26, 2012

It started at Disneyland, of all places. The park brought in a DJ to perform in sync with a light show built around Tron: Legacy. My teenage son saw stars. He already makes music on his computer, but what he really wants to do is DJ.

Laura Bolokoski, aka DJ Pnutz, makes sample-based electronic music, with an emphasis on mixing. She is also owner and instructor at San Diego Turntable Institution (866-244-8411, “We start students on vinyl-record turntables,” she says, “though some people use CDJs — they use digital CDs, as opposed to vinyl. The turntables are combined with a DJ mixer and a cross-fader. The cross-fader is the switch that allows you to choose which turntable is live,” while the mixer allows you to control the sound.

“Basic students start out with music theory — counting the music, learning musical structure,” explains Bolokoski. “Then we cover basic beat-matching mixing — working on the transitions between songs. It’s really important for a DJ to make sure that all of the songs are going at the same tempo, so that people on the floor aren’t having to dance fast, then slow, then fast again.” After that, “we’ll work on some scratching, which involves manipulating the record and the cross-fader to produce different sorts of sounds.”

All classes at SDTI are one-hour private lessons, “so the curriculum is really personalized. I have one student who is eight years old, and my oldest is 56. A lot of people want to learn as a hobby,” but some are trying to get into the nightclubs. (She notes that beginners will be lucky to get gas money for an opening set, while experienced DJs who enjoy a following and have connections to promoters “can earn $50 to $100 an hour, depending on the club and the type of music.”) Practice time is included in the price, which varies depending on how many classes you buy. “If you sign up for eight or more, it comes out to $59 a class. And we offer a payment plan.”