When people speak of careers and jobs, most of the time an image of a person slouching in front of a computer, tons of papers on the desk and maybe a cup of almost cold coffee next to that comes into mind.

Taking part in parties, roadshows, coming on radio, celebrating weddings and "jamming" all night long are never the "usual" job descriptions you read in the classifieds.

But what if that's the job you are looking for? Then becoming a disk jockey or a DJ maybe your thing.

It is true that in some cases pursuing this career may get you to lead a vampire-like lifestyle where you come alive at night and sleep in the morning, but if DJ-ing is what you are really into, then why not give it a shot?

"A DJ's job is to work the crowd and make people happy. You run the show and see what makes the crowd move. Of course, it all depends where you are playing and for which occasion," said Omar Shoukri, a DJ and a lecturer at SAE Institute, Dubai.

"Generally a DJ's day starts at 10pm and ends at six in the morning. You might be doing this four to five times a week."

So what makes a good DJ?

"A good DJ is one who plays music that has not yet hit the radio stations. People when they hear a song have to say they heard it first from so-and-so DJ," said Shoukri.

What does a good DJ possess?

A good music sense and a strong background in various music genres. "You need to understand the rhythm of the music. That is, to know when to introduce another song, when to make the scratch… know a variety of styles… go back to the sixties and seventies...," said Shoukri.

Training one's ear is also a must. "You just know when to introduce the next song, match the beats… which song to slow down… how to match the tempo. You need to practise," he said.

How to become a DJ?

It is all about practising; however, nowadays it is easy to mix and match songs.

"In the traditional analogue style, a DJ had to physically work on mixing songs. For example, when he or she is changing from a song to another, they need to look for the right records and make sure that the beat of the new song matches the old one… this can be by slowing down the new song and it's all done physically," said Jason de Wilde, general manager of SAE Institute Dubai.

Nowadays this whole process has become easier. "You can press a button and the beats will be configured without any trouble. All you need is your laptop and electronic DJ system," he said.

However, Shoukri believes that the first step towards becoming a DJ is to create a demo record. "Make a 30-minute demo record and upload it on social networks like MySpace. Be on top of the latest trends, check out event planning and organisation companies. If you start working at weddings, parties and so on, people might start requesting you," said Shoukri.

Connections and contacts are also important according to Shoukri who has been in the business for almost 10 years.

Can a DJ make good money?

According to Shoukri one can negotiate the money. He gave examples of how much one can make saying: "Well, for working at a fashion show one may make Dh250 an hour, for a wedding it can be Dh2,000 for the night… it all depends," he said.

How to test the music?

A DJ is no longer only present on radio. In fact, DJs are now composing their own music.

"We are used to DJs playing on radio but this profession is no longer limited to that," said Shoukri. "DJs are now involved in making their own music, remixes and composing."

However, in the end what matters is how the crowds would take it. "When I want to try something new, I play a hit that people are familiar with then start changing and put on my music to see the reactions.

Prospects of the profession in the region?

There isn't much competition; it is easy to enter the dance floor. "But it is important to know your audience. People in the Middle East like to incorporate Arabic in music… you need to consider the melodic background and what type of music they are into," said Shoukri.

The DJ lingo

This refers to spinning a record backwards for a short and quick spurt. It is used as a special sound effect and can be used to give the peak or build some more energy.

A moment in a musical track where the main beat changes and becomes more subtle. The break of a musical track was designed to break the monotony of modern dance beats and provide a change in the mood of a song.

Most modern electronic dance music consists of loops of sound. A loop is a piece of sound that can be played again and again in a coherent sequence.

Dance music consists of many types of loops layered on top of each other to create music. Typically a loop will consist of 16 beats.

A sliding control device on the mixing board that allows the DJ to transfer the audio output from one source to another in a smooth manner.

This is the act of moving the needle back and forth in a record causing the sound contained within the groove to be played forwards and backwards at various speeds.

A DJ will usually have one hand on the record and the other hand on the crossfader located on the mixer.

— Information courtesy: www.famousdjs.com

SAE to offer a digital DJ course

SAE Institute is introducing a Digital DJ Course starting September 23rd. The four-week part-time programme teaches the skills and techniques required for a DJ.

Any interested person as young as 16 with love for music and the art of mixing.

Courses are offered two nights a week for three hours from 6pm to 9pm.

Learning will be divided into two parts:
Students will learn the technical skills of how the work of the DJ used to be the traditional analogue way

Students will then be introduced to Digital table-turning using computers and the new Torq software for music mixing.

Availability and deadlines
The course will be offered to 10 people. There is no set deadline.

Admissions will stop when the seats are filled.

How to apply
Interested students should visit the SAE Institute Dubai at the Dubai Knowledge Village, Block 16.

For more information log on to: www.sae-dubai.com