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Best Place to Learn How to DJ Phoenix 2013 - Turntableology 101 at Cyphers: The Center for Urban Arts

Herbie Hancock's groundbreaking 1983 song "Rockit" was a landmark piece of DJ culture. It introduced the art of record scratching to the masses while inspiring thousands of future wax workers, including local selector Jay "Akshen" Valdez. And its historical and personal impact is why he uses the song as the basis for some of the many lessons that make up the various "Turntableology 101" curriculum he teaches at Cyphers. Akshen, who's been spinning for 28 years, covers the ins and outs of the ones and twos at the Center for Urban Arts via a few different options. On the final Friday of every month, Valdez conducts a two-hour symposium (open to potential platter jocks of any age) that's aimed at introducing them to the art of DJing using a hands-on approach. It features loads of history — including the contributions of Kool Herc and Grand Wizard Theodore, as well as "a lot of nerdy stuff" — and firsthand experience with turntables and mixing gear, and guest appearances by such local club scene veterans as DJ Reflekshin. (Additional less-structured versions focusing solely on kids ages 5 to 12 also are offered separately on various Saturday afternoons.) Teens and adults eager for additional schooling can then enroll in a more comprehensive 12-week program that starts in late fall and emphasizes such vital skills as beat-juggling, cuing, and song-selecting. Valdez already has led at least one prodigy to major success: his son, DJ Yeah, who was recognized in 2004 as the youngest scratcher ever, at age 5. So, if he can teach a hyperactive tyke how to light up the decks, we're sure he can school you — or your kids.

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