Over the past decade, Bounce has made its hobby into its business by organising and performing at parties, festivals and events all over Ireland, England and Europe.
Their new project, Bounce Junior, aims to provide the same opportunities for teenagers, organising DJ lessons, courses and events for under 18’s to become involved in music through the world of DJ-ing.
During a recent Introduction to DJ-ing lesson at St. Columb’s College, Bounce founder and well-known DJ Kwame Daniels took time out from teaching to explain the background and relevance of this most innovative curricular activity.
“We have been doing this for years now. As part of the curriculum, the classes are available at any school that wants to take them on board,” Kwame tells the ‘Journal.
“Basically, we started off working with other public sector bodies like the Probation Board and Youth Justice through the Nerve Centre. Then the Nerve Centre suggested the courses could be broken down and taught within schools. So, we approached CCEA and presented the scheme of work to them and they liked the idea of incorporating it into the existing GCSE for Music. It’s an accredited part of the curriculum alongside drums, piano, guitars, and you can be examined in exactly the same way with decks than with any other traditional instrument.”
“It’s all about a good sense of rhythm, timing, listening skills, instinct and decision making,” Kwame said.
“Of course you have to have a sharp ear and be able to pick up and manipulate certain beats under many layers of music.
“You also need to be able to select quality music too, and be confident enough to substantiate your DJ-ing skills in a discussion, there are so many elements and so many things you can fall down on.”
Bounce’s website www.bouncindj.com aptly describes their basic aims – ‘to educate, create, develop and stimulate, regardless of age’ – and they are certainly achieving all four.
Bounce are currently working with candidates in St Joseph’s Boys’ School, St Cecilia’s College, Oakgrove Integrated College, Foyle College, St Columb’s College, St Peter’s School and St Dominic’s Grammar School in Belfast, and Kwame seems to relish the challenge.
“We’re starting an event organising course as well. There are so many skills involved in not only DJ-ing, but putting on an event – these are transferable skills that are all about interacting with other people, invaluable in all areas of life.”
Such complex musical education is difficult to teach, though, as Kwame, who is originally from Ghana, admits: “This will be my seventh year being involved in the teaching and examination process and it’s been really successful.
“I guess it is hard to teach because there are so many things that I assume people know, when of course they don’t. So breaking everything down and communicating that to the boys is a skill. Doing it in a fun way, and keeping them interested and engaged, that’s the key.”
This is the fourth year of GCSE candidates at St. Columb’s College.
Aspiring DJ and student Niall Gallagher, a 14-year-old from Culmore in Derry, has been doing the course for two years and hopes to take it further.
“I developed an interest in music when I started to listen to Daft Punk and stuff like that and wanted to take it up,” Niall told the ‘Journal’.
“You can do loads, dance, hip-hop and R&B, it’s all about remixing songs and putting two songs together and making it so that their beats are at the same beat per minute (BPM), beat-matching songs and mixing them.”
“We have to bring in a CD of new music every week to work on. I already have a pair of decks at home and I would really like to have a career in it. It’s far better than some of my other classes - I wish I could get it more than once a week!”
Not only do participants get to spin decks in school, they also get the chance to showcase their skills publicly too, through Bounce Junior events at the Nerve Centre.
On a whole, the project encourages confidence, self-esteem and enhanced interpersonal skills in its young masters.
13-year-old DJ Conor Scott from Groarty Road in Derry started the DJ-ing course eighteen months ago.
“I saw it advertised on the school notice board and decided I would like to try it – it’s great, I wouldn’t mind doing it for a career.
Conor says it takes practice to master such technical equipment.
“The first few days, it is hard to get used to all the equipment but it gets easier as you learn what everything is and what everything does. It’s really good fun and makes school a bit more exciting.”
Bounce have been particularly busy of late. To celebrate World Community Arts Day on Thursday, February 17, Bounce will team up with Beyond Skin, Seeds, Youth In Music and St Brigid’s School to produce a live music youth performance at Cafe Del Mondo.
Bounce Junior have also joined forces with forward thinking St Cecilia’s College to deliver a ten-week Youth Event Management course, training 15 young participants to organise, manage and deliver their own Music Showcase event whilst working towards their Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE).
Kwame is pleased that the course continues to go from strength to strength.
“It’s getting better and better. The candidates are enjoying it and not only that; they are telling their peers and their friends how much they enjoy it. And with Bounce Junior, now they have the opportunity to display their skills for others. That can only be a good thing, as it’s all about self-esteem and self-confidence.”
To find out more about Bounce and Bounce Junior, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or see: www.bouncindj.com