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Mixin' and Scratchin': Dub Academy keeps the art of DJing alive

It's hard to describe the energy you feel when you're dancing to music created by Barrington Miles, founder and owner of Dub Academy. His enthusiasm for producing music is contagious, even when he's not performing. 

"Oh my gosh, when I DJ, I envision the dance floor as my blank canvas," Miles says. "The people on the dance floor are my colors. My tracks and turntables are my brush and strokes. I hope to paint a perfect masterpiece every time."

Like most DJs of his time, Miles learned how to mix music through trial and error. After all, tutorials on YouTube weren't around yet. With years of practice and discipline Miles managed to turn his love for DJing into a career. "Someone once told me to find my passion, figure out how to make money doing it, and you will never work a day in your life." 

 "When I DJ I am the Maestro, and for a moment I can use music to help folks forget their troubles and worries, fantasize and get lost." 

Wanting to share his passion with others, Miles decided to open a DJ school in Austin. Some people thought he was crazy: "I was told not to do it and that it was a bad idea. But we are in the Live Music Capital of the World, and I believed that if I built it, they would come."

Miles rounded up a few friends (all experienced DJs) and opened up Dub Academy in April of 2010. As he predicted, people did show up and you'd be surprised to see who fills the seats at his studio on East 5th Street today. "Our students range from six to seventy-six years old. Some of our students are lawyers, doctors and professionals who have always wanted to learn to DJ or just to try something new." 

That's exactly what led me to sign up. Learning how to DJ had been on my bucket list for years, so I too decided to give it a shot. As a former band nerd I actually believed going into my first lesson that I would be good at this. It turns out I do indeed have rhythm and can match a beat or two (although I'm sure some would disagree).

As a DJ 101 student you learn some basic DJ skills like "scratching" and "beat-matching" along with a little DJ culture and history. You get your own personal workstation that includes Technics 1210 turntables and Rane 56S mixers — apparently some of the best equipment in the business. You also get to come up with your own DJ name. I'm still trying to come up with mine. Any ideas?

Don't let the cool factor deceive you: DJing is harder than it looks. "Some may think because they have 1,000 songs in their iTunes library they are a DJ or because they can beat-match they are a DJ," Miles says. "The art will be lost if something isn't done to educate the public on what a real DJ is. There needs to be a place where up-and-coming DJs can learn the old philosophy and apply new technology."

Over the years Dub Academy has turned out some of the city's best DJ's. Chances are you've danced to the tunes of a Dub Academy DJ at a wedding, party or club. "About 50 percent of our students stop halfway. The students that want to make a living as a DJ or earn supplemental income continue with our 103 and 104 DJ classes," Miles said. "Once completed, we offer a job opportunity with our sister company Texas Professional Disc Jockey."

While a profession in DJing is likely not in my future, it's easy to get addicted to the power DJs have and understand why Dub Academy keeps attracting students year after year. "When I DJ I am the Maestro, and for a moment I can use music to help folks forget their troubles and worries, fantasize and get lost," Miles says. "To be the creator of the best medication ever is truly epic. Maybe that’s why people typically take lessons."

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To learn more about Dub Academy or to sign up for one of their upcoming classes click here.

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